Madden NFL 2005 Review

Lack of advertising, and especially lack of competition, makes the GBA version of Madden NFL a very quiet footnote in the NFL football game wars. With all of the video football game hype each year is focused on the home console systems it wouldn’t be surprising if EA Sports simply rehashed the same game each year, simply updating the rosters and changing the year in the title. However, that is not the case at all with Madden NFL 2005. A number of updates to the game this year make the title the best NFL football game available for the GBA – yes, it is the only title available for the GBA, but it would still compete for the title even if it had a little competition. If you’re thinking about picking up Madden NFL 2005 because you’re looking for a portable football game then you’ll find that the game will fit the bill nicely. If you are a series veteran who’s been holding off on upgrading for a couple of years, then now’s a good time to update to the latest game in the series.

The first change the game has undergone is very apparent – the graphics have been completely overhauled. The camera has been moved back to give you a wider view of the field and the players now appear thinner and more realistic. You can even pull the camera back further before a play to get a look at your opponent’s set and call any audibles as needed. The playbook interface has been updated to reflect that used for the home console versions of the game, making playcalling easier and more intuitive as it is now easier to tell where everyone will be going once the ball is snapped.

There are plenty of other changes in the game, some of them quite subtle. The AI has gotten an overhaul and now makes for a much tougher opponent. EA Sports has been hyping their changes to the defensive AI in the Madden games this year and this overhaul includes the GBA version as well. The defense plays smarter and reacts quicker, so much so that it can be difficult putting together a consistent rushing attack in the game. If this proves frustrating to you (or you need even greater challenge), then you’ll be happy to learn that Madden NFL 2005 lets you customize the game’s AI through adjustable skill setting sliders. There are 18 specific categories in which you can adjust the AI’s behavior on offense and defense so you’ll be able to tweak the game’s difficulty to your liking.

Madden NFL 2005 can be played in quick play mode which is a one game match-up, as well as situation, practice, drill, and modes. These latter modes are good for practicing plays or recreating various in-game scenarios by selecting the teams, score, time remaining, etc. The game also comes with a season mode that lets you control a team throughout an entire season, playing through the entire NFL schedule and managing the roster through trades and free agency. The game will track statistics and records, but unfortunately the statistics are team-based so you can’t check on the performance of an individual player. The game also has a Madden Challenge feature that awards you with points for making good plays. These points can be saved and then redeemed to buy “Madden Cards”. These “cards” are essentially bonus boosters that let you improve the stats of a player for a short duration.

The gameplay allows you to swap freely between defenders, taking control of a player at any time during a play. Sprint, jump, and dive buttons allow you to try to stop the runner or defend against a pass. On offense you control the quarterback, and then take over for the running back or receiver after the handoff or pass. When passing, each receiver is mapped to one of the GBA’s buttons and you throw to a receiver by pressing his corresponding button. When carrying the ball you can make a player sprint, dive, or put on a spin or juke move. The number of controllable actions on both sides of the ball may be less than you have in console versions of the game, but the GBA version gives you enough to perform all of the basic football actions.

Overall, Madden NFL 2005 pales in comparison to its console cousins, but it does a good job of providing NFL fans with football action on the go. If you want to play some football on the road, you won’t be disappointed if you pick up the game.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 84%.  It would probably be the best NFL football game on the GBA even if it were not the only NFL football game on the GBA.


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