[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/madden2005ds/cover.jpg[/floatleft]The fact that I actually tasked myself with reviewing [i]Madden 2005[/i] for the DS should come as a huge surprise to anyone and everyone. If it were not for the fact that I am the only one with a DS, then I definitely wouldn’t be writing this right now. It isn’t that I hate sports games as much as it is that I suck at them and just don’t derive a lot of enjoyment out of them. Most of my games are completely based in fantasy, and I like it that way. With that being said, I am going to approach this from the most objective angle I can and not just write this game off as the newest crappy football game released by the behemoth that is EA. This should be very interesting.
I acquired [i]Madden[/i] for the DS shortly after its launch, so my willingness to review this game was in fact surpassed by my desire to not have to do that very thing. Sheesh, the things that I am willing to do for you, the readers. So here we are, closing in on March, and I am done playing that game. My experience might shock you a little, as my gut reaction was that I didn’t like it, but upon playing I didn’t find myself hating the experience as much as I expected to or wanted to.
My last experience was a few years back when I begrudgingly took on the role of “that other receiver that nobody ever wanted to throw to.” Since then, I haven’t bothered playing another [i]Madden[/i] game, so the advances that the series has made were all but lost on me.
[i]Madden[/i] made the jump to handheld gaming a few years back for the GBA, and the DS should give it the headroom it needs to improve alongside its console counterpart. The downside being that the initial jump to the DS left a lot of headroom for expansion, almost to the point that it seems like the game could have used a little more refining before its release. With the DS supporting 3D graphics, it was obvious that EA tried to make use of this feature, and the end result is blocky character models and 3D blobs in many places. I am sure that things will improve as everyone gets accustomed to the DS, but I felt like I was playing an N64 after a little Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox, and it was a little tough.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/madden2005ds/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]One of the nice things about [i]Madden[/i] on the DS is the dual-screen action. The top screen is your standard view for [i]Madden[/i] games, with the lower screen being your touch screen for play selection, as well as a top down Xs-and-Os view of in-game action. This top down view made it a lot easier to keep track of open receivers and ward off blitzing defenders. The second screen also means one more thing to be aware of in an already fast-paced game. Being a veritable newbie to the franchise, I spent a large chunk of time just trying to get my pass off to any receiver, much less an open one. In the end, I was throwing deep and burning the defensive backs.
The sound in [i]Madden 2005[/i] was decent. You could clearly hear the crowd ooing and ahhing at my spectacular skills, but virtually absent is the in-game commentary. Michaels and Madden chime in to announce things like a first down or a touchdown, but the commentary is sparse enough that you will definitely notice when the muffled voices kick in. The soundtrack is also decent, and with stereo speakers this time around, it is better than the GBA version.
The standard controls from previous versions of [i]Madden[/i] have made an appearance and-aside from the move back to a D-pad-based control-will be familiar to the [i]Madden[/i] veterans. Being unfamiliar with the controls, I found there to be a steep learning curve associated with remembering which buttons did what when I was on defense or offense. I attribute this mostly to my lack of time with football games in general.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/madden2005ds/ss04_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]As expected, the gameplay options in the DS version are somewhat trimmed down from the full-blown game. Exhibition, season, and multiplayer are present along with practice modes, two-minute drill, and situation mode. Season mode sports a slim number of franchise options and only allows you to play a single season before starting over. Fans of long-running franchises will not be pleased with that aspect. Despite these omissions, the Madden Cards have made an appearance and can aid you in beefing up your team and players.
While I historically have not enjoyed playing [i]Madden[/i] for any console, I didn’t hate my time with it on the DS. It is a solid game that needs some graphical tweaking and a little revision of the feature set, but all in all it is a well-made game. I can’t advocate that you should run out and buy it as the GBA version is probably a little better. But if you have a DS and want to see what the future of portable football has to offer, you may want to give it a shot.