It must be weird working on Madden. You know full well that your fans will buy your game every year no matter what, but you also have to spin the mysticism that this year’s Madden is far superior to all previous Maddens. This year, you have finally solved football games, and you will lead us to the promise land. Then the game comes out, it plays mostly the same, and the next year is spent resetting the hype cycle entirely. In some respects, this creates an environment where the Madden property is constantly being updated and improved, but it also leaves room for some truly worthless innovations. Here is our selection for the six most useless features in the history of Madden.
QB Vision Cone – Madden NFL 06
Passing in Madden has always worked. Press the button floating over the head of the receiver you want to throw to. It’s elemental beauty, sports game design at its finest. Everybody in the entire world knows how to throw a pass in Madden, and that truly is something to be proud of.
But with Madden ’06, EA Sports attempted to refine the one thing in their game that wasn’t broken by adding “QB vision.” QB vision was a translucent yellow cone that spread into the field in front of your quarterback, which you could shift left and right with one of the control sticks. The idea being that your quarterback needs to be staring at wherever he’s throwing the ball for the most accuracy, and let me tell you guys, botching a throw because you weren’t looking in the precise direction was always exhilarating and never frustrating.
Here’s a quick note to people developing video games. When you call yourself a “simulation” we know that you’re not being completely honest, and that’s okay. You only simulate the stuff that’s fun to simulate, like timing an interception, drafting players, and swimming through offensive linemen. What you shouldn’t be simulating, however, is the contraction of muscles and bone required to look left and right.
Fight for the Fumble – Madden NFL 10
The Madden series can serve as a weird, football-shaped reflection of the times, and there’s no better example than Madden 10’s “fight for the fumble” mechanic. In 2009 the empire of Guitar Hero was just beginning to feel the nips of other commercial priorities, but not before EA got in and instituted their very own rhythm-game button-mashing competition in their most profitable franchise. You see, instead of playing Reign in Blood, you were trying to recover a fumble. I actually do love the concept that picking up a football requires the exact same sort of precision you could use to simulate the guitar solo from “Shout to the Devil.” Do you think there was anybody on earth who specifically purchased Madden 10 because it promised interactive fumble recoveries?
Superstar Mode – Madden NFL 06
The premise of superstar mode is simple. Similar to the much superior mode in NBA2K series, you create a player and enter the draft, hoping to eventually construct a legendary career. This works perfectly if you pick a quarterback, or a wide receiver, but superstar mode was ambitious, and let you pick any position you wanted. That means you could become a superstar offensive lineman. What could you do as an offensive lineman? Exactly one mechanic, the pancake block. That’s it. That’s all you could do. You could play a career’s worth of games in Madden 06 doing exactly one thing. It’s like EA wanted to punish you for trying anything even remotely different.
The Extra Point Show – Madden NFL 10
One day this will work. An A.I. generating prescient things to say about the virtual sport that just occurred. In Madden NFL 10 a green-screened Alex Flanagan told the world over and over again that both teams ran the same amount of plays. Just like a clay-mold of Doris Burke in NBA 2K, or a puppet Chris Berman in ESPN Football. We still haven’t figured it out, guys.
Create-A-Fan – Madden NFL 2005
"This game is really fun, but I think my experience would be greatly improved if I could create awful-looking fans that appear on screen repeatedly."-No one
Ring Building – Madden NFL 08
You could spent actual money to build championship rings. Like $500. You could walk around with a championship ring because you are good at Madden. That fact should make you mad every day of your life.