By: Jared Black
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
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.
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).
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.
selection of over 150 plays
- Sound is
gameplay wonít appeal to hardcore football fans.
- Gameplay is
limited severely in several key areas (defense, running game,
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.