Madden 06 DS Review

There's hardly anyone who would consider last years Madden entry on the DS a quality addition to the franchise. It was obviously rushed, and even as a port, it wasn't very successful. Significant strides have been made this year, both visually and gameplay wise. They're immediately apparent, and for die-hard fans, this isn't such a bad choice.

Game modes have been fleshed out, adding in franchise play, create-a-team, custom leagues, and more. The new mini camp is short-lived fun as almost every game here features innovative use of the touch screen. On the field is where the major improvements have come though.

Gameplay has been slowed down, giving the game a tighter feel. It feels like you're in control this year, unlike the previous attempt, which made running up field a chore. Passing hasn't changed, the new QB vision feature from the console games simply wouldn't work here, and mercifully, they didn't even try to implement it haphazardly. Running is on the easy side, as the juke moves are brutal on the defense that has trouble coming up with a solution to counter them.

That can all be fixed by tweaking the AI settings, and after a few games, you should find a balance to provide at least some challenge. Kicking has been completely revamped, now relying entirely on the touch screen. One of the mini-camp games serves as training, it's simplicity making it too easy to kick the ball off, and onside kicks easier to recover. If you're in a car bouncing because of a road, it's almost impossible to kick with any degree of accuracy.

The second screen still has other uses, including a well-implemented audible system. Play selection can be accomplished with the screen or buttons. Either way, it's simple to pick up. Instead of just the basic X's and O's, the full plays (including routes) are shown during play. This makes it easier to read the defense before the ball is snapped. It still doesn't offer much while the play is running, but this is a nice add-on to ensure the play is run properly.

The biggest overhaul has come in the graphics department, and in one of those rare cases, this is important. Last years unidentifiable blobs made things difficult to see. Now, players feature some small lighting effects, more polygons, and it's easier to read receivers. It's still tough to identify players during long passes, though the bright, impossible to miss icons make it difficult to make a mistake.

John Madden offers more comments from the booth (so many you actually realize there's commentary in 2006), and the general sound effects haven't changed. The crowd is rather dead, and hardly even perk up for a major play. The menus are accompanied by a single song, which is fine the first few times you power on the console. After that, it's just annoying.

It's odd to think this way, but this portable version has improved itself better than the console games. Everything has been cleaned up, fixed, and toyed with. The results are a staggering improvement. This isn't a replacement for those obsessed any of the home console versions of Madden '06, but a nice diversion when you can't get a fix on the road.

Comments (1)

Dan Ondeck:

Madden 06 for the ds is a much needed boost to the world of handheld football games. The gameplay is good. the graphics could be better and the game play is pretty good. I would like the mini camp to be more like the ones on the consouls but at least it is there. Over all its an awsome game.

P.S.--Is it the game or do I just suck that badly at kicking?

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