#7 of 2009: Madden Arcade

Posted December 22nd, 2009 at 1:05 pm

The ranking of games in the best of 2009 list is based primarily on the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title. Some other factors include whether advertised features were fully delivered on, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is a personal take on the games. The analysis is weighted largely towards those which I had the most fun with while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the others.

This will probably be the most controversial addition to my top 10 but ultimately the amount of fun and value had exceeded many other games this year. Sure it is a simple arcade style game but it gets a lot of things right and the amount of time I’ve already spent playing online is telling.

It should be no surprise that at least one arcade game makes would make my end of year list. Last year NFL Tour was a surprise inclusion and in 2007 my top game was The BIGS. I appreciate them for the ability to play and not worry about doing so within constrained situations. They can be fun yet at the same time strategic and provide a refreshing change of pace from the sim games.

What Madden Arcade does especially well is with its power-ups known as “Game Changers”. There is good variety and the random nature of receiving them is refreshing instead of having to “build up” to earn them. Not only is there a decent mix of power-ups but how to use them will vary based on the individual. It isn’t just about strategy in when to use based on situations but also in when to activate them before or during a play and how to react to an opponent having one in their arsenal.

The game is not completely over-the-top. In fact games slant more towards defensive struggles than anyone would anticipate going in. The power-ups have to be used to really get that advantage and score. Outside of that I have the tendency to play field position. Which sounds ludicrous for a game of this mold but it is a legit strategy.

The one design decision that is troublesome is having a “reverse the score” power-up. I don’t understand how that could have been deemed as a good idea to include it. Luckily it is extremely rare, I’ve only seen it a couple times. However lose a single game because of it and it has the potential to overshadow any other fun that has been had.

Because of the restricted options in choosing plays the running back becomes the prime offensive target. In all but one of the four defensive plays the RB is left uncovered. Meanwhile the wide receivers are always man-covered. Of course you could always manually control a CB and blitz or play different coverage but the others will stick to the play assignments. Generally the RB won’t get huge gains but just the easy positive yardage can be a big thing in this Madden Arcade.

In terms of improvements to future offerings I really hope for a few additional plays. Having a play-action option at the very least would be a huge addition for the offense. On defense having some zone for the corners and better coverage of the running back would mix things up better.

At $15 Madden Arcade fell in the higher priced downloadable titles but the value feels right. It was just last year that NFL Tour, which couldn’t be argued to be much deeper, sold for $40. Like Tour this is essentially a game targeted for the online crowd. Online has been smooth and responsive since day one. EA has also provided a roster update and plan one more which is going beyond the typical support one would expect for a downloadable game.

Madden Arcade has provided exactly what it promised, fun head-to-head gameplay and unique strategical elements that make every game different. While there are certainly some improvements that could be made I have found it to be completely enjoyable and addictive. There isn’t much more that can be asked for than that.

#7: Madden Arcade
#8: NCAA Football 10
#9: NBA 2K10
#10: Fight Night Round 4
The Worst of 2009