Madden 2005 Nintendo DS Review

Talk about your pointless releases. Created simply to take advantage of a system launch, "Madden 2005" may have been another solid edition on the home consoles, but here on the DS, things are shaky all around. Everything here feels rushed, pieced together quickly due to a short development time and minimal experience with the console. It may be a step up from the Game Boy Advance versions; that's just not really saying very much.

Immediately apparent is the lack of a franchise mode. That leaves the game with a feature set out of 1999. You can still play a full season, create a scenario, go wireless in multi-player, and practice. Still, no matter how many modes were packed in, it's all revolving around a slap dash game that fails to come together, much like the player models.

It's already apparent that the DS isn't the most 3-D capable console. That's fine. It doesn't need to be. The least any gamer could ask for is a polygonal model of a football player with its head attached to its shoulders. Looking at the right angle (which occurs often during replays and pre-game) you can see directly through the back of the player's head because they don't exist. The rest of the models are blocky, chunky, and hilariously deformed. Every single model is the same size as a lineman. Saying it's a first attempt at 3-D football on a portable is making excuses. Either wait a year until things come together or just go sprite based. There's no shame either way.

Usually there's not so much focus on the graphics, but they have a detrimental effect on gameplay. Deep down field, especially when using the closer-to-the-line camera views, receivers and defenders blend together in a mish-mash of color and flickering polygons. That makes one of the few decent features, the X and O's on the bottom screen, somewhat useful. Of course, that does require you to take your eyes off the main screen, away from the key action.

For the rest of the unique features, there's not much. Using the touch screen to select plays is novel, though it's just as easy to do with the normal buttons. Plus, since the actual game can't be played with the stylus, you need to switch your hands constantly to adjust and get ready for the upcoming play. It seems more like work than fun. Picking a hot route or an audible is a bit easier with the touch screen; but again, just map this stuff to the buttons. Why make players fiddle with the stylus, D-pad, and buttons all at once? It's yet another example of a company using the screen just to use it. You can't even use the stylus to make menu selections.

Anyone who has ever played the N64 or PS One editions of this long-standing franchise will be on familiar territory here. If history has taught us anything, it's that "Madden" seems awfully outdated once a new generation arrives, and not surprisingly, the game seems one gen behind. AI glitches are all over the place, especially when it comes to clock management. For no apparent reason, the opposing team will just sit on the ball for the entire length of the play clock, whether they're down 27 in the fourth or just starting the first quarter. The running game is skewered far in the favor of the offensive squad and finding an open man is simple when throwing.

In-game audio is about as sparse as the graphics engine. You can play an entire game without even hearing the person endorsing the game and Al Michaels commentary is seemingly limited to "touchdown" and "first down." The crowd mumbles on, never changing their pitch. The menu screen initially sounds impressive, featuring a fully voiced music track. Then you get a bit deeper in and realize that it does nothing but repeat itself every minute or so.

Much like the other offering from EA Sports on the DS, "Tiger Woods PGA Tour," this game just screams, "wait until next year." At least "Tiger" has a solid foundation, one that makes it playable (and even enjoyable). "Madden 2005" doesn't have anything of the sort. It's forgettable, cheaply produced, and oh yeah, pointless.

Comments (1)

I saw Madden 2005 on the DS for the first time today. Wow I must say the DS should stuck to 2D brawlers and scrollers. I don't even think Mario 64 DS is that impressive.

Having to look down to the 2nd screen during the heat of the play is just plain annoying.

I really can't wait to either see a game to NOT make the DS look like a total gimmick machine, or it to go down in a blaze of glory as ONLY a gimmick machine.

Nintendo is releasing a successor to the GBA soon right? Are they cannibalizing their own user base?

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