Spittin’ Game

For the past 12 years or so, most decent Madden reviews have completely stopped commenting on the game itself and just served as an inventory of the newest features.

So here are the newest features: An icon system displaying player’s strengths is the first thing you’ll notice, and the first thing you’ll complain about. Did you know Jay Cutler has a strong arm or Marvin Harrison is good at running routes? Now you do, thanks to large, yellow, cartoonish icons around key players’ feet, which explain the various abilities that make players good, and ugly up the otherwise sexy graphics.

And speaking of the graphics, they’re (of course) better than ever this year, though no amount of real-time helmet reflections or realistically stretched jersey perforation can make up for the return of those dead, soulless eyes. A better feature is the ability for your smartest players to read the opposing team’s formations if the same plays are called too many times. This actually makes the game more challenging, and works to discourage you from repeatedly calling that same long bomb. The only better way to do this would be a sporadic pop-up animation of John Madden saying: “Dude, don’t be a douche.”

Another great feature is an upgraded catching function that allows you to protect the ball after a catch or risk a drop to get the ball in a better position for some sweet yards after a catch. Also, it’s the newest version of Madden. Don’t act like you haven’t already bought it.

WarioWare is the ultimate party game, if your idea of the ultimate party is everyone standing around trying to figure out why you spent $50 on this game instead of a keg of cheap beer. If so, here are some talking points for your guests.

First and worst, you have to unlock multi-player by suffering through single-player mode. You have to earn the right to play with other people in what’s billed as a party game. Why didn’t the designers of Twister or “I Never” think of that? Single-player’s short, so you don’t mind asking your guests to wait around while you try to swat flies or pluck nose hair with an awkward control scheme, do you? (Another possible discussion question: What would be a natural-feeling control scheme for plucking nose hair with a motion sensor -equipped remote control?)

The majority of the mini-games are absolutely terrible, challenging you to tasks like … dropping something … or moving the controller approximately one inch in any direction. Some games are fun, but for every driving simulation or paper airplane piloting mission, you get seven games that involve picking something out of a nostril, or, worse, games where the objective seems to be based on some form of alien logic, and you end up winning by accidentally handing a lampshade to a pterodactyl or something equally random.

This might be an OK time-killer if you’re throwing the kind of party where people stand around discussing the merits of Nintendo games, but if you’re throwing a good party, this is only taking time away from the part where bikini-clad MILFs play for the right to do Jell-O shots off one another. This is what I assume happens at good parties. I mostly crash the kind of parties where people end up talking about Nintendo games.

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