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Madden NFL 2002

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  3D6 Games
Publisher:  EA
# of Players:  1-2 (Link Cable)
Genre:  Sports
ESRB:  Everyone
Date Posted:  10-17-01

With the release of the immensely superior Game Boy Advance, GBC owners are quickly seeing new releases for their venerable handheld slow to a trickle. Despite there being a lot of money to be made off the GBC still, handheld developers naturally want to develop for the system they can make a better game on. Luckily for GBC owners, EA has long brought itís Madden series to every viable platform available (with the exception of the Dreamcast), and this year is no exception. Unfortunately, it also helps to make it painfully clear that the handheld scene needed an upgrade.

In terms of gameplay, EA really did all it could. The game plays much like every other handheld football game before it, which is to say very "arcadey" with little realism. Youíll be able to play all the different modes youíd expect, including Season, Exhibition, Playoffs, and Linked Game.

Offensively, the passing game breaks down to a "throw it and hope" strategy. When in the pocket, you canít see more than a few yards down the field due to the GBCís tiny screen. Worse yet, you can only pass it to two WRs per play. That means that when youíre running an offense with 3 or 4 receivers, you wonít be able to pass to some of them. The running game is also very simple. Since there are only two buttons to work with, there are no spins/hurdles/turbo boosts to be found. You just snap it and run it, with the only possible option being to dive.

Defensively, things are worse. Itís nearly impossible to cover a WR effectively, as you canít see where either of you is going. Thus, youíre practically forced to use a LB or lineman on each play. The kicking game is your standard kicking game (start the meter, stop the meter when itís full, direct the kick), but on occasion it can be too easy to block a computerís FG or extra point try. The kicker takes a long time to approach the holder after the snap, and thus any kind of decent rush will usually result in a blocked kick (or a really awkward fall-down by your defender).

Graphically, the GBC is painfully showing itís age. Since football is fairly taxing on the hardware (since it has to keep track of 22 different players), the player models have to be fairly simple sprites with minimal animation. Other areas of the game look OK (like the play-calling screen, Options screen, etc.), but not nearly as good as some of the vivid static screens on recent GBC games. Really the only standout feature here is the Instant Replay mode, which is mind-bogglingly good for a system with so little hardware power.

The sound is virtually non-existent. The music for various menus is pretty good, but in-game thereís very little to hear. Other than a few referee samples (ex: "first down"), the occasional crowd reaction, and a Maddenism at the end of the game, everything is eerily silent.

Overall, if you need a decent football game for long road trips this is a good option. While itís very limited by the hardware it appears on, this is about as good as GBC football will ever get. The important thing is that the game is fun, if not terribly realistic.


  • Gameplay is fun, if unrealistic.
  • Link play provides added replay value.
  • Good selection of over 150 plays


  • Sound is woefully lacking.
  • Arcade gameplay wonít appeal to hardcore football fans.
  • Gameplay is limited severely in several key areas (defense, running game, etc.).

Final Verdict:

Madden NFL 2002 is a decent football game, but itís painfully obvious that the GBCís maximum potential in the genre has already been reached. If you own a GBA, itís recommended that you wait and see how the GBA version of Madden turns out. If you donít, then Madden NFL 2002 is a good purchase to satisfy your handheld football need.

Overall Score: 6.5
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