Mike Vick can tell you about it. So can Marshall Faulk, Donovan McNabb and countless others. For years, talk has spread of a curse that haunts any athlete that graces the cover of the latest edition of Madden. Well, kids, I’m here to tell you that the curse you think is real is not the curse you should be worried about.
We all know Madden is one of the best selling game series of all time and indeed, every single freaking year, the mainstream media comes down from its high horse and descends on the video games masses to cover the “event”. The only other time they give games any coverage is when they want to scare the unlearned masses into banning them. I used to get sick of the media covering Madden every year, like its some kind of surprise that this game sells well, but then I realized they were onto something.
It IS an event. Because every single freaking year, hardcore, casual and pseudo-gamers (see my last column about casual gaming for the definition of that term and then pay it forward) line up outside the stores and buy the SAME DAMN GAME THEY BOUGHT LAST YEAR. THAT is the true Madden Curse. That hard earned cash or credit is thrown down to a know it all clerk at GameStop or a know nothing clerk at Wal-Mart or Best Buy to buy something that is only slightly different than the previous year.
And I believe me, I know. I used to be one of them. I had Madden 02, skipped 03, got 04 (because my beloved Bucs won the Super Bowl and I wanted to experience dominating the league with them) got 05, skipped 06 and got 07. I will never buy Madden again.
First off, have you ever heard of something called Legacy issues? Probably not. Well, its a term used for things that have always sucked in the game and years later, have still not been addressed. For example, some passes, either thrown by you or the AI, are like tractor beams. The receiver will sometimes seem to get sucked into the path of ball, ensuring the catch, even if he was 8 yards away. Some safeties in the game are omnipotent and rather than use their powers for good, they use them to piss us all off.
Want more? I got more. Sometimes the defense has NO IDEA where the ball is. not during a fake or anything, but when its real obvious. Certain plays are guaranteed to work, no matter what defense is called and no matter what play is called by the opposition. Once, a friend called a punt block defense against me on first down and it worked. EVERY TIME. The online aspect sucks. They have online leagues this year, but its not worth the bandwidth. And the offensive line has and always will suck.
Now, I know they add and remove features, like Owner mode, Franchise mode and Superstar mode and they fine tune those and fix the mistakes they made the previous year. Madden seems to suffer from “The Red Queen Effect”. They add something new, people hate it, they take it out and try again with something else. They are running as fast as they can to stay in one place.
All this leads to the simple conclusion that when people say Madden is a roster update every year, they are right. And it’s barely that now, since the last two years have led to terrible glitches that needed to be patched. So they can’t even release the same game as last year without screwing that up.
The Madden Curse. It makes gamers everywhere come down with a sudden case of Alzheimer’s, so they buy the same game every single freaking year and other, more deserving games, like Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Beyond Good and Evil struggle to find a place in the market.