Madden NFL Football (3DS) Review

Madden NFL 99 introduced a feature that would to this day be considered one of the main features, if not the main feature, of the series: franchise mode. If you aren’t playing with your friends, you’re playing franchise mode, and with online franchise everybody does both at the same time.

So what do you call a new version of Madden that has no franchise mode?


Madden NFL Football (3DS [Reviewed])
Developer: EA North Carolina
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: March 27, 2011
MSRP: $39.99

And that’s exactly the word to describe Madden NFL Football for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s as barebones a Madden release as has been released in over a decade. It has no franchise, no multiplayer. It has a season mode that doesn’t track your stats, and winning the Super Bowl earns you nothing more than congratulations screen. The PSP versions of Madden may not be all that, but at least they have all the major features of the Madden franchise.

The gameplay is about on par with the PSP version — which is to say it’s not as good as the console versions but it’s far from awful — aside from a few weird glitches (like punt returners letting the ball hit them in the feet) and one gamebreaking screwup on the part of the development team. And it’s easy; I started off playing a game on Pro difficulty and managed to run back the opening kick off for a touchdown. I ended up winning the game by 60. Even on All-Pro the results weren’t too different, and only All-Madden provided any sort of challenge. I’m not what you would call an expert Madden player, so all this was pretty surprising.

The gamebreaking screwup I mentioned involves the post-play clock run-off; it’s a small feature introduced a few years back, and so its presence isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that you can’t turn it off, and so, no matter what the circumstances, 25 seconds are going to run off the game clock after every one of your offensive plays unless you throw an incomplete pass or call a timeout. If you’re down by four with a minute left in the game, the clock will run off 25 seconds. It’s horrible. And yet the computer team can run a no-huddle, while you’re stuck without it.

In addition to normal football, there’s an arcade-style 5-on-5, first-team-to-score-30 mode that’s probably the best thing about the game. This mode moves quickly, and has some interesting rules; you start at your own 30 and have four downs to score a touchdown. If you don’t make it, the other team picks up where you left off, and it goes back and forth like so, with no kickoffs, punts or field goals.

There is one other kinda cool feature unique to the 3DS: you can, after you call a play, use the stylus to redraw plays. It’s neat, but few people are going to actually get much out of that, because the fans of the series who are serious enough about it to be able to take advantage of such a feature are going to be so turned off by the rest of the game that they won’t care that you can do this. That’s how I felt, anyway.

Oh, yeah, this thing is in 3D. Yeah, that aspect of the game is pretty unremarkable, aside from when some sort of graphical flourish sticking out of the screen makes you feel like you’re being stabbed in the eyeballs. That doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen with regularity, and when it happens, holy f–king s–t.

On top of all of this, the game is out of date. My favorite team in real life is the Titans, and so it was amusing to me to boot up the game with Vince young as my quarterback and to call plays from “J. Fisher’s Playbook.” This game is Madden 11, basically. The folks working on the game were in a no-win situation in the respect, being that they’re releasing a game during the offseason, and an offseason featuring a player lockout to boot. So it’s hard to really blame them for just plugging in the old rosters, but it does make it all feel even more stale.

And that’s the story of this game. I honestly can’t see any reason to buy it.


  • Uh, it’s football, I guess
  • 5-on-5 mode


  • No franchise
  • Clock run-off
  • No multiplayer
  • MY EYES!
  • Everything else

Final score: 25/100

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