The Nintendo Wii was a strange console. Despite its huge financial success, third-party publishers never really knew what to do with the thing. There were a handful of titles built exclusively for the Wii that turned out great (No More Heroes and Madworld, to name a few), but many third-party titles had to make some serious compromises in order to stand up. adapt to relatively weak motion control. console-based. Games like Dead Rising had a port (titled Chop till You Drop) which saw some serious feature removals and gameplay changes in addition to a big graphical nerf to the Xbox 360 version. Annual Call of Duty saw altered versions which, while mostly staying true to the original, were also clearly compromised. Then there’s this weird category of outliers that no one ever seems to talk about. Beginning in late 2008, EA Sports released Madden 09: All Play on Wii, a completely updated version of the game that had little in common with Madden 09 on other consoles.
Madden had gone through many changes over the previous years. 2005 saw 2k football title ‘ESPN NFL 2k5’ cut its launch price to just $19.99, leaving EA no choice but to lower its price to $29.99 . When the NFL got wind of this, they thought the low price might damage their license, so they offered exclusive video game rights to the highest bidder, which happened to be Electronic Arts. In response, 2K focused its efforts on another sport and went for exclusivity for the Major League Baseball license. Madden, now without competition in the space, could experiment with their titles in ways they couldn’t when they had to worry about competition. The result was this bizarre version of Madden that few remember.
The whole game features this weird cartoon art style that was actually surprisingly ahead of its time. Games like Backyard Baseball had something similar, but didn’t attempt that hybrid between realistic 3D renders and vibrant colors seen in those Madden titles.
Mechanically, it offered exactly the same features as its sister titles. Franchise mode was still in the game and you could still lead a team just like you had in all previous titles, but in terms of gameplay they had brought drastic changes. None of these games allowed you to play them in the “classic” way, with GameCube or Wii Classic controllers. The only way to play was with the good old Wiimote and the nunchuk.
Gameplay consisted of aiming the Wii Remote at a receiver or holding the button associated with that player, and wiggling the Wii Remote a certain way for a ball or lob pass. Despite this substantial change to such a core mechanic, it felt surprisingly intuitive and difficult to mess up – something even first-party Wii games with waggle mechanics couldn’t achieve. In addition to this serious change of control, it also allowed a second player to assist the first. With another Wiimote, another player could force defensive players to automatically hit the ground, allowing Player 1 to throw an uncontested pass or run untouched into the end zone. In any traditional sports game this would be unthinkable as a mechanic, but something about it works here.
The Wii versions also offered modes that the 360 and PS3 versions did not. These included a 5v5 mode, something newer that Madden would reintroduce around 10 years later as an online-only mode. It also allowed you to establish games on the fly. By using the Wiimote to plot routes for your wide receiver, you can quickly make changes based on the opponent’s defensive setup. The 5v5 setting allowed for more creativity with the draw system than the traditional 11v11, and served as a decent mode to introduce those unfamiliar with the rules of the game. The mode itself was not particularly deep, but the ability to play an entire 5 of 5 season showed a commitment to the mode that probably wouldn’t happen now.
Starting with Madden 10 on Wii, a new “Madden Showdown” option appeared in the main menu. This mode lets you customize the rules of a match, tweaking it with all sorts of modifiers, like having every tackled player now fumbled, or a game where every player on the court ran at maximum speed at any time.
It was a strange time for EA Sports, when a sudden lack of competition meant the mainline Madden series had stopped pushing the boundaries just like it had before. But the weird technicalities of the Wii also gave the team working on this version an opportunity to do some things differently. The Wii version would still pale in comparison if they tried to make a direct port of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, and here’s a console that has attracted a huge casual following with its motion control gimmick. So EA Sports adapted and created an original offshoot of Madden that not only got the most out of the Wii, but also innovated aspects of the Madden series in ways the mainline games didn’t. .