It’s been well chronicled in these pages that we love Madden - and don’t particularly like when people mess with it too much. Frankly, we’re not all that hyped up for innovation each season; a few key adjustments, some new animations, and addressing our biggest complaints from prior releases does us just fine. Last season’s initial Wii version of Madden, naturally, caused us all sorts of angst. We eventually came to terms with waggle football, and even learned to embrace it…sort of.
This season, we’re starting to fall in love. 2009’s Wii edition sports a new brand name – All Play – and a quirky personality that demonstrates EA is starting to get it when it comes to separating their NFL experience on Nintendo’s superhot console from the others. After all, random characters from your Mii Parade making guest appearances as that day’s referee or waving your arms like a maniac after scoring a touchdown to boost players performance won’t be found anywhere else.
Everyone knows that plenty of gridiron wannabes have been left behind as pigskin titles continue to grow hyper-complicated, and All Play is the best example yet of allowing casuals to get back in the game. If you’re a hard-working Dad who got the Wii for the kids and wants to throw down some NFL action on a Saturday night, then Madden All Play is made just for you.
Everything from the controls to the play-calling is streamlined. You can let Mii-Madden choose your play, pick from a small list of simple play types, or head deep into the playbook to find just the right one. Hiking and passing are done with a flick of the wrist, and you can steer the runners around with the nunchuk stick. Alternate game modes like a simplified 5-on-5 match also ramp down the intimidation factor. It’s all easy and relatively intuitive – pretty much the opposite of every other Madden you’ll come across these days.
To be sure, though, All Play’s not All There just yet. The standard games take waaaaaaaaaay too long on the default setting, as chances are Dad won’t be able to dedicate an entire hour to one game very often. The kicking mechanics are lousy too, causing gobs of missed field goals. We also couldn’t help mashing incorrect buttons when waving the Wiimote around like a maniac to hit a bullet pass or celebrate a touchdown. Throw in some seriously stale graphics and warmed-over animations we’ve been watching for close to a decade, and All Play isn’t quite ready for the Hall of Fame.
Even so, Madden NFL 09 All Play is blazing an important trail to reintroduce lost football fans to the franchise. It’s an undeniably fun experience that will please many in its target audience, and even includes roster updates and online play. Not to mention we’re really starting to like a little waggle with our football. We may be old curmudgeons, but fun is fun, and Madden does a lot more right than not.
Aug 12, 2008