John Madden review - Sega Megadrive

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American football is a game of four quarters. It's rough, it's tough and only the fittest survive! Can you make the big time on the gridiron? John Madden's Football gives you the chance to find out.

On the title screen there are a variety of options that let you choose a side from a list of the 16 most famous NFL and AFL teams or a John Madden All-Star team, choose whether the game is sudden death, a playoff or a regular season, select one or two players, and set the time per quarter.

Once those are chosen, it's onto the game proper. The action is displayed in 3D, viewed from above and behind the offensive line-up. As play happens, the screen scrolls up and down the field and also left and right in realistic multi-level parallax to follow the ball.

There are a huge range of plays available to the player, and are chosen using a series of easy-to-use menus. First of all the main team is selected (big, fast, hands and so on), which gives access to a variety of plays (shotgun, running, pro-form etc). Once a play is chosen, a further set of windows open up detailing a variety of player movements. Chose one of these and play begins.

When the ball is snapped, the player takes control of the quarterback, who either runs or passes. If the ball is passed, player control is handed over to the receiver. Offensive moves are chosen in exactly the same fashion, and during the play you can control any player you like.

Although this seems quite complicated at first, it's surprisingly easy to get into, and the sheer wealth of plays and options made available to the player gives huge scope to develop your own playing style. And you've certainly got to do that to get to the Superbowl, so get practicing.

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" I've never been a fan of American football - after all, any game called football in which you carry the ball has got something wrong with it (unless you're Maradonna, of course). But this game stunned all of us at MEAN MACHINES as soon as we saw it. The sprites are brilliant - all the moves are there, and the players jump, fumble and dive, just like the real thing. The sound is amazing as well. Wait 'till you hear the yell of "It's good!!" when you make the extra point, and the thuds and groans of the Defense as they hurl themselves at the running back. Despite all these features, it's the playability that puts this game into the stratosphere. Don't expect to master it quickly, but do expect to have a great time trying! John Madden's Football is easily the most popular game we've ever had in the office, and deservedly so.

" This is the most stunning sports simulation I've ever seen! It perfectly recreates all the thrills and spills of American football. There are so many amazing touches, I just don't know where to start: the absolutely gob-smacking 3D graphics which have to be seen to be believed, the superlative music and sound effects, the incredible amount of play options, the way the players celebrate a touchdown, the completely brilliant two player option, the way the players all gather round before a play, the highlights from other games that are played after a match... I could go on, but I'm sure you've got the message. John Madden's Football is the best Megadrive game yet - if you're a sports fan it's an essential addition to your cartridge library. "


Overall Score95%

Retrospective comments


Before playing this game, I had zero interest in American Football. I knew nothing about the sport. The rules were a mystery to me. However after a few weeks of non-stop play, I was a fan.

One of the best multplayer games on Sega's 16-bit console, JMF is also the game that helped Sega make a massive dent in Nintendo's market share Stateside. The game is a joy to play with plenty of options and nice tight control. The graphics are great too - the 3D effect on the pitch is simple but effective.

Although the following versions improved on things slightly, I still prefer the original. A must-have.

JT - 26 Oct 2008, 14:39 GMT

This was the first sports game i bought for my then new Megadrive and wow what a purchase it was. Never was i so addicted to a game so quickly and i played it to death, well until i was told to turn it off by my mother who seemed to think playing a game into the early hours was a bad thing on a school night!!
The game play was fantastic and the controls were easy to pick up. Completing a Hail Mary pass and scoring late touchdowns was brilliant, eventually i'd beat teams by 50+ points but i'd still go back to it. I loved the follow up too but i agree with Damo that i prefered the original!!

Dan - 19 Feb 2009, 14:10 GMT

THIS was the game that did more for American Football and C4's NFL highlights (and Northen Exposure's) ratings than anything else has ever in the UK. Like Damo I knew nothing of the sport before playing this, then after a few months of sheer amaizingly addictive play I was an NFL fan. It was a bit too easy after a while, (488-0 scores were common ;) ) and my personal fave version was Madden 92, but it was still an awesome game and if MLS wants to take off EA best repeat their feat withg soccer stateside.

On a side note, remember EA back then? They were THE games company, this game established them like Appetite for Destruction did Guns N Roses. How tragic to see EA now towing the commercial line worse than anyone else with rehash after rehash of butchered games.

And whatever happened to Rob Hubbard? Great tunes ;)

Mean Machines Issue 3 - December 1990
Sports Game Sega Megadrive
Electronic Arts
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John Madden

John Madden

John Madden

John Madden

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