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Madden NFL Arcade review

Warmed-over, ahem, "extreme" football that leaves us yawning


  • Easy to jump in and play
  • Controls are simple
  • too
  • Lag-free online games


  • No real single-player modes
  • No announcers
  • either
  • Should be $5
  • not $15

Instead of doing what everyone wants – blatantly ripping off the beloved NFL Blitz games of yore and serving it to a yearning public - EA Sports has been plugging away at their own version of alternative NFL games for years now. First it was NFL Street, then NFL Tour, and now Madden Arcade. Unfortunately, it seems that as long as the EA-NFL exclusive partnership continues, all we’ll get are neutered “extreme” footballers that satisfy no one.

That’s where we stand with Madden Arcade, the bastard child of this year’s HD and Wii Maddens and the last NFL Tour. You can almost see which section was pasted from each EA code base; stadiums are eerily reminiscent of console Madden, the play selection, short field, fireworks, and inflatable helmets were borrowed from Tour, and the slightly-cartoony player models appear to be a direct import from the Wii. Overall, the mish-mash of Arcade winds up being bland and relatively lifeless, offering precious little of the furious, over-the-top action you want.

The basic premise is simple enough. You’ve got a short field, a handful of players, and no clock – just score a touchdown in 4 downs or you hand the ball to your opponent. The first team to get to 30 (or whatever you decide to set the winning tally to) wins. Along the way, random powerups appear; some are helpful, such as bringing in bonus players or getting an extra down to use, while others are either annoying (like a super-slow-down that benefits no one) or criminal (such as being able to steal all of your opponent’s points).

While this may sound a little interesting, the final package lacks any real oomph. Maybe it’s because of a shocking lack of game modes (there’s nothing other than a quick play option and multiplayer) or the underlying familiarity of it all, but whether we played alone or against another human we never got remotely close to excited.

We should give credit where it’s due, though – namely, the easy-to-learn playcalling and controls. You get all of four plays (one run or short, medium, and long passes) and there are no turbos, dives, or spins once you snap the ball. If nothing else, Arcade is plenty noob-friendly.

Even so, for fifteen bucks we wanted a lot more game than Madden Arcade delivers. A bland on-field experience coupled with no single-player season/tournament/anything translates into another failed attempt at “extreme” football. Please, just give us our NFL Blitz back!

Dec 18, 2009

More Info

DescriptionA mash-up of everything in EA’s football arsenal that winds up being very little of what we want in this XBLA game.
Franchise nameMadden
UK franchise nameMadden
PlatformXbox 360, PS3
US censor ratingEveryone
Release date25 November 2009 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)