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Madden NFL 2005 Package Art
Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts

Madden NFL 2005

After the release of Madden NFL 2005 on the GameCube and Game Boy Advance, we had thought we'd covered all the bases. Months later, we're treated to one more version of the long-standing series on the Nintendo DS. The game takes certain advantages from the DS's touch screen and dual screen configuration, but there are several noticeable problems surrounding the title as well. The production values are questionable and there are even some glaring bugs trapped in the game. When comparing it to the Game Boy Advance version of the title, there aren't a whole lot of noticeable differences aside from the all new interface and improved visuals. When compared to the console versions, we found out the hard way that we've been spoiled by analog control and smooth, rich textures.


This is certainly not the best looking title on the Nintendo DS so far. In fact, it could easily be the worst. Each character looks distinctively similar to the next and they're all made out of what seem to be colored cardboard boxes. The character models are filled with jagged edges and tons of clipping issues. Certainly clipping can sometimes be excusable on a handheld system, but when players run physically through each other, things get a little out of hand. What the game lacks in polish, it makes up for in a steady, smooth frame rate. It's always nice to see a game run at a solid pace, even if it looks tragically malformed.


Thanks to the dual speakers on the Nintendo DS, the sound pumps out nice and crisp. Unfortunately, the sound production is less than adequate for a football game. While the licensed tracks which play during the menu screens is great, the sound effects and commentary go down hill from there. While the sound effects mimic that of a real football game, everything sounds recycled over and over again. Once you hear someone get tackled, there's nothing new to hear. The commentary isn't as diverse as it could be. Al Michaels makes extraordinarily generic play calls such as... "Touchdown!" while John Madden's normally informative analysis of the game is drab and boring. Almost like a real Monday Night Football game!


If you aren't familiar with the handheld series of Madden titles, you should be by now. In any case, Madden NFL 2005 features Season Mode and Play Now, which are easily the meat of the game. There's also Practice, Two-Minute Drill, and other styles of play, but you'll easily be spending most of your time in the former two settings. What's more important in this game, however, is how the developers took advantage of the DS. The game uses the dual screens in a rather unique manner which is what sport gamers have always dreamed about. The top screen is where the actual playing field is displayed, malformed character models and all. The bottom screen is used for a few different things including a list of the selection of plays. During the actual plays, however, the game switches to the the X/O format of the current play. This leads to some very cool touch screen features.

The touch screen is used to issue different plays, which is very helpful. Selection goes smoothly and you'll hardly accidentally choose the wrong play. The interface is easy enough to read, so you'll know how each play should work even if you don't know a whole lot about the game itself. After the play is selected, you'll be able to select hot routes and perform audibles using the touch screen rather than fumbling with the controls. You can also use the touch screen to select which receiver to throw to. This play mechanic is innovative, but seems a little too underdeveloped. The kicking meter is also used with the touch screen in a very cool meter system. You'll touch the screen to stop the directional and power meters to control the path and power of your kick. The feature is one of the first you would expect from the touch screen. All in all, the game controls much the same way as you would expect, although the D-Pad takes a while to get used to. You may miss a few plays if you've been spoiled by the analog controls on the consoles. The D-Pad is clearly not as responsive as it is in Super Mario 64 DS.


The game plays relatively well in multiplayer. The frame rate holds steady and it's just more fun to play with another person. Unfortunately, the game doesn't support touch screen audibles, hot routes, or even play selection. Also, the game supports only multi-card play. (Editor's Note: It was previously reported that the game uses single-card wireless downloading, but that information was incorrect. We apologize.) Even so, it adds much more life to the game and would have made this a generic sports title right out of the box.


Madden NFL 2005 makes for a fun game of football, make no mistake about it. However, there are just too many glaring problems that would make this game recommendable to anyone but the most faithful of Madden fanatics. If you're looking for a good portable football game, this is certainly your answer. It's innovative use of the touch screen and dual screens on Nintendo's new handheld make it worth the purchase alone. However, if you're looking for something like Super Mario 64 DS or Feel the Magic, you may want to save the space in your library.

final score 6.7/10

Staff Avatar Austin Starr
Staff Profile | Email
"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"

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