In the actual, real world, John Madden the man is known almost as much for the fact that he practically lives in his giant bus, the Maddencruiser, as he is for being a complete nut-case who happens to have a high football I.Q. How ironic, then, that it's taken until now to get a portable version of his football game that hasn't been strictly second-string. The Game Boy versions haven't made the cut, and the less said about last year's Nintendo DS fiasco, the better. Madden NFL06 on PSP would still get smoked if it tried to defend against one of its full-sized brethren, but it's easily the most realistic, best-playing portable version of this or any other football game yet created.
Essentially, this is the PS2 version of Madden NFL06, but with quite a bit stripped out. Some of the absentees, like QB Vision, were new this year and didn't quite turn out anyway, so those we can live without. Precision Passing, which enables you to fine-tune your aim to make your passes more catchable, has survived, and it was our favorite addition.
However, we do miss some of the full-sized game modes: you're confined here to Practice, Mini-Camp (with or without Competition), a stripped-down Franchise mode, and wireless multiplay, both Ad Hoc and online. So those who wanted create-an-anything features, tournaments or the new Superstar mode are going to have a rough season.
Once the ball is snapped, we desperately regret the sacrifice of those special moves that would utilizethe right analog stick if the PSP had one: harder tackles or the ability to run right over a defender with a bulky fullback. There's also also at least one big hole in the gameplay that can't be blamed on the PSP's missing right stick: the running attack is far too deadly. The running backs are almost inhumanly maneuverable, able to turn on a dime, and theplayers seem dyslexic when it comes to reading a running play. You can consistently rip the defense for big yards on the ground. Pass defense is more realistic, and the balance smooths out at higher difficulty settings, but pounding the run is still unrealistically easy.