Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Madden VG Legal To Drive, But Cannot Buy Cigarettes Or Alcohol: A Somewhat Tangent-Laden Retrospective

My first copy of Madden was the 1995 edition for the Sega Genesis. Remember the Sega Genesis, Grandpa? I was in the dorms at Eastern Michigan, hours from home, didn't know anybody. It was the only game I could play with the other guys on the floor, even though they were more of a Tecmo Bowl and Bill Walsh College Football crowd. I always wanted to play Madden. This was the first time you could see the numbers on the players' jerseys, but only when they were parallel with the goal line. Outside linebackers often ran away from the quarterback, and the sound effects were so bad, they were mocked by 386 PCs and even some TANDY models. But, between not going to class and trying to get laid, the game was a nice reprieve, and probably my only chance at breaking the ice with the black kids on my floor (that's just how it is).

I didn't buy another version for three years, when I picked up Madden 98 for the PlayStation, back when it was THE PlayStation, and the centerpiece of the Family Basement. The Maddenisms were fresh and actually enjoyable. Pictures of the players appeared with the descriptions of the plays.

J. BLAKE PASS INTERCEPTED.
R. WOODSON INTERCEPTION RETURNED 98 YARDS.
TOUCHDOWN STEELERS.

Glorious.

I would play my little brother, who was a total Reset Button Bitch, and would absolutely destroy him regularly, to the point where I had to guard the Reset button every time I scored, but then he would start walking away or, worse, crying like some Little League right fielder (He would eventually enlist in the Army and knock up some girl. Where's your Reset button now, little brother?).

The next millenium, and newer game consoles, would bring even more sweetness to Madden. I was stuck in Real Life for awhile and wouldn't pick up another copy until late 2003, when I got Madden 03 for the PC (yes, nearly a year behind, but it was only 5 bucks), and then the same copy for PS-Uno. I would eventually own or play every subsequent version of Madden from there.

I've hosted and played in tournaments, had Madden parties. We've discussed Madden at work, contemplated the overpricing of the game, compared it to NFL 2k5 (which I contend is superior to M-05 in every significant way) and even played out entire seasons using redrafted rosters. Madden has often been the bridge to friendships and conversations I may not have enjoyed otherwise.

Which is why I get just a little pissed off when people point to the game as an example of the demise of society. Jeff MacGregor was critical of the game in his SI piece last week. A quote:

Without real-world consequences, video games make us no smarter emotionally, and intellect unleavened by empathy is the empty triumph of the technocrat.

And now the English version:

Take the violence out of football, erase the pain given and taken, reduce the grunt and the struggle to the push of a button, eliminate the magnificent inconsistencies of the human heart and its capacity for courage or cowardice, and the game, the war, is no more than a fast-twitch exercise -- a battle fought without personal cost. It is cause without effect, a victory only for technology and opposable thumbs.

So it was the best of chode, the worst of chode? Erase the pain and struggle? Jeff, have you never tried to pin a punt inside your opponent's 5-yard line? Never dodged those little softballs that come after you in the Precision Passing camp drill? Never had to play a whole season with Kenny Watson as your starting tailback? Tried to use that motherfucking passing cone? That, my man, is the essesnce of pain.

What bullshit that is. Everything is push-button these days. This is 2006. Do you wash your clothes in a wooden tub, over one of those boards you see in bluegrass shows? Hell no, you don't. Once technology advances, the skills that that technology replaced are obsolete. You wash your car by hand? Great, I guess, if you have the time. So you can throw a perfect spiral with a real football? Fuck you, go home and play with your kids.

My one gripe about it all may be that Electronic Arts, the caretaker of this noble institution, insists on ass-raping us every year with what amounts to a fifty-dollar roster update. For those of us stuck with our now-obsolete PS2s and XBOXs (XBOXes?), we may not see another significant game improvement for our systems. The XBOX 360 version looks awesome, and after having played the demo in Meijer, functions same. Is $50 too much to pay to finance and partake in this fraternity? It may seem so in terms of up-front cost, but in the greater scheme of things, at least for me, probably not. I have a real job now, I can afford it.

It's not football, but it's close enough. Besides, how else are we going to get close to that real football experience? By going outside?

35 comments:

Son of Brasky said...

Thank you sir. You just reminded me that I need to take a lunch break and go buy the new copy of Madden.

Here's to Shaun Alexander breaking is collar bone! Thanks Madden Curse! Yay!

The Last Unitard said...

My birthday is around this time of year, and my inevitable best buy $50 gift card will indeed go toward that shiny new roster update. I will play the game feverishly for a couple weeks, sporadically for a couple months, and not at all after that.

What's worse is I will have no one to play the game with, nor do I have the ability (nor the desire for a monthly fee) to play it online, so for a time I will become a drug and alcohol addled misanthrope, alienating everyone in my life whose role has been replaced by those sweet, sweet pixels.

The thought of all the time I will waste makes me sick to my stomach... and that's just the offseason.

Maybe I should use that gift card for something else.. like the Kids in the Hall season 2 DVD's.

Nah.. I know better. Fuck you Madden.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but, wasn't there a year sometime in the mid-late 90s where Madden didn't have the NFL license and had to use player numbers instead of names. And had to call the teams by their cities' names?

I remember there being a team with the Patriots colors named "Foxborough". I'm pretty sure it was a version of Madden, but if it was another game I'm thinking of please refresh my memory.

I also believe that that game came out back when NFL Gameday was the popular football game. I had that one for PS1.

Also, I thought NFL2K5 was better than Madden 05 too.

A.R.P. said...

I still can't forgive Madden for the lunacy of the "passing cone" and the empty, impotent promise that was the "truck stick."

Monday Morning Punter said...

I believe 95 was the first edition to have the player names. I know 98 did. Don't think 94 did, but I could be wrong.

Awful Chief said...

Was EMU still the Hurons back then? Ypsi will always hold a special place in my heart. There's nothing like driving by the water tower on the way to the Elbow Room or BW3's and eventually walking over to Deja Vu with a shit-eatin' grin on your face.

Monday Morning Punter said...

I believe my year there was the first year they called themselves the Eagles. It was the year we beat Duke in the NCAAs and Charlie Batch came off the bench to be our QB.

grungedave said...

"where's your reset button now?"

... so wrong, and yet I can't stop laughing.

Madden needs to bring back the stretcher and the ambulance - maybe that's where the SI critic was bitching about the lack of pain. Everything about EA Sports games has been sterilized ever since you could kill the QB or split Wayne Gretzky's head open on the ice.

Captain Caveman said...

We had a Madden league in my dorm my freshman year (96), complete with the Madden Bowl on the big-screen downstairs. My roomate's deep passing game was fucking ridiculous with C. PICKENS and D. SCOTT. Whoever had the ball last always won.

I believe I am the only person who has ever used a run-oriented, ball-control game plan on Madden.

TheBigO said...

"I believe I am the only person who has ever used a run-oriented, ball-control game plan on Madden. "

Nope, I do too religiusly, and am undefeated in my circle of friends and now hardly ever get to play because of that. I use the Seahawks of course and I will Mack Strong and Shaun Alexander you to death, good luck stoppin me and when you do stack the box you get the short game with D. Jack and Engram. Late in games I will let the damn play clock run down to 1 second before I will run my play, just to rattle my opponent, plus I have the lead and they want the ball back, so much fun.

Chillonamill said...

Nope, I was a meast with Barry Sanders back on the genesis. Sweeps all day long.

Unsilent Majority said...

my ball control offense worked wonders during the regular season of my freshman year madden season (we kept a running scoreboard written on the wall). once the postseason came around the black dudes started kickin my ass. i felt like turtle playing fight night.

...sorry cc

We Must Protect This Hoff! said...

Back in college, I had a buddy that just ran FB dives all game. All game, 3 yard gains. To retaliate, I would call timeouts when I'm ahead and there is one second left in the game. He always went completely ape shit. I did that in the playoffs once, he didn't talk to me for 3 days. I still laugh about it.

BigRicks said...

THe greatest invention Madden came up with was multiple users in one franchise. I had a house of ten guys, 4 were fags who didn't play Xbox, the rest of us had a killer season or two, I won the SUper Bowl with Denver, now I will go home tonight, stick the game in my XBox 360, and play those same guys over XBox Live, I love technology.

Unsilent Majority said...

ricks, you enjoy that. i'm going to go home and have sex with a woman...who can spot me three bills?

Anonymous said...

"i'm going to go home and have sex with a woman"

is that a first?

Chillonamill said...

UM-

Camelot doesnt offer take out service.

The Last Unitard said...

I'll have to remember that people who don't play Xbox are fags.

A.R.P. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A.R.P. said...

Sorry...
I think you can get carry out at JPs or Good Guys. Just remember the seafood's more gamey and it'll probably have stretch marks and bullet wounds.

Unsilent Majority said...

wow norv...just wow

Big Al said...

NFL2K5!! youre with me, 30 year franchise.

Anonymous said...

Good work with the Madden analysis. I was wondering if you could throw me an invitation to be a poster at deadspin.com? Reply with a yes or a no to s_watson3@yahoo.com. Thanks man, keep up the good work.

feep said...

please circle yes or no if you would like to go steady with s_watson3@yahoo.com.

Seriously though, I find Madden completely unrealistic. For instance, I can actually win games with my Detroit Lions. I only say "my Detroit Lions" because Matt Millen clearly doesn't give a crap about the team.

Garth said...

Ball control offense, Cover 2 defense (I play the strong side defensive tackle). Basically, I reduce my game down to pure reflexes.

Oh... so I'm who that SI guy was talking about.

Doug said...

NFL 2K5 was indeed awesome, although I'm not really sure if I considered it better in every way, or just loved that it cost like 20 bucks and that kind of price will always get my support.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

2K5 cost $20 bucks, was just about the same as Madden 05 PLUS that thing where you designed your own crib was pretty sweet too. I remember unlocking a video to watch on the TV in my crib that featured Steve-O from Jackass.

I like NFL 2K5 so much that I bought almost all of the 2K sports games for a year.

I got the NBA2K5. It was ok, but it was ridiculously easy.

The NCAA B-ball one was awesome and pretty tough. You could be up by 20 points with 3 minutes and fall victim to a monster comeback.

The MLB one from that following year was sweet too. You got to unlock items for your luxury box which was just about as cool as the cribs from 2K5.

The only ones I didn't like were the NHL ones. The players were really small.

Other non-Madden games I had were Gamedays 97 and 98. I seem to remember a large amount of people having those two also.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

PS. ROCK THE RINK FOR PS1!!

Best hockey game that no one ever heard of.

I rented it when I was bored one night and got addicted.

Alex Fritz said...

S. Dawkins was unstoppable on Sega.

Just so you know.

Monday Morning Punter said...

I am a huge fan of the Ball-Control Offense (BCO). I also am a Madden loner in that I usually am playing (and even losing to) the computer. If I do break down and get internet, this will probably be the reason that breaks the camel's back.

Becky said...

It's posts like these that make me lament my utter lack of hand-eye coordination...

Christmas Ape said...

I was unbeatable with the Steelers in Madden '03. Kordell was ridiculously overrated (could run like Vick and pass like Favre on the run), Bettis was a guaranteed 5 yards even against goal line defense and Plaxico could out jump any player in the game on deep lobs.

I'd do ball control until I got sick of toying with a D and throw deep on Burress on the left side.

Anonymous said...

Where's the love for "Joe Montana Sports Talk Football" on the Sega Genesis? Every fake punt worked in that game; my brother and I would find it hilarious when we'd fake punt on 1st down and it'd work, but then again we were like 7.

Anonymous said...

F Madden this year! They took off the fantasy draft for the 360. LAZY BITCHES!!!!

Anonymous said...

Joe Montana SportsTalk

"San Fransisco is lining up in punt formation; it's second down and I can't believe it!"