Friday, 3 February 2012

John Madden Football [Mega Drive] - Johnson, you idiot!

Grab the pretzels and nachos because it's that time of year again, the one weekend all Americans shove pillows up their shirts, wear colanders on their heads and pretend to be Joe Montana.

Apologies to actual American Football players, at New York or any other team, called 'Johnson'. And yup, I did indeed miss the opportunity to pit New York against New England but the footage was recorded before I even knew who was taking part in the 2012 Superbowl, or even that it was happening this weekend. In fact I decided to turn it into a Superbowl special last Thursday because, well, I'm a massive current events bandwagon-jumper like that.

Madden was one of the first games I played for the Mega Drive and holds a special place in my memory, even though I can't bring myself to sit and watch a whole game of (real life) American football. Admittedly, however, this is mostly because the majority of NFL matches take place at 3AM GMT, meaning I'd have to adjust my sleeping patterns to such an extent I'd be forced to take a pillow to work. Somehow I don't think my boss would put up with my snoring all the way through our Tuesday meeting. I mean, he'd probably tolerate me sitting there, face planted on the desk, drool pouring all over his freshly-printed copy of last week's accounts, but he draws the line at 10 minutes of snorting bull terrier impersonations.

When creating this 'review', I realised I was going to sound like a complete idiot to all you football-literate Yack watchers, but it's a risk I was willing to take. Having recently played the game again upon the suggestion of Lakepalmer (yes, he of Games I Am Aren't Playing), I found one or two things I never noticed all those years ago. I was interested to discover that our old friend Rob Hubbard is responsible the menu music, and what a superb soundscape he has created; I don't think the Hubster is capable of composing anything other than sonic gold. (Not to be confused with Gold Sonic.)

Other intriguing and humorous little programming titbits, which are addressed in the video, make this a noteworthy addition to the Abomination series (out on Blu Ray Christmas 2028). So, Mr Lakepalmer, you're the proud beneficiary of Harry Yack's first request video.

Enscribed proudly on the front of Sega's Mega Drive is the 'high definition graphics' logo, though we haven't been able to experience the system's true visual capabilities until now, some 20-odd years later, in an age where HD television is more widespread. Perhaps playing Madden '90 on my 38 inch Toshiba LCD HD screen has artificially inflated my opinion of the game's graphics, but they are more than adequately clear, crisp and colourful. I was impressed by the scrolling, which is smooth even when taking into account any slowdown caused during the game's conversion from NTSC (US) to PAL (Europe). Though we had to endure such problems this side of the Atlantic, we weren't to know any different; it was only recently that I discovered how much faster the game runs on the North American Sega Genesis. Just check out how quickly the game runs in this video:

I guess the ultimate testament to Madden's enjoyability is that I'm not a fan of American football. Or perhaps it's because of my lack of familiarity with the sport that I like this game: I'm not picking apart its knowledge of offsides and time outs because I know so little of the rules anyway. Maybe such innocence is the best way to approach any game to avoid getting wrapped up in the cynical nit-picking that characterises my own videos. Not that I will stop making them or anything, but it does make one stop and think.

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