Setup & Timing
Basic menu navigation in Madden NFL 09 is pretty simple. "Multi-Player" is right on the main menu, followed by "Single-Card Play" on that menu. Opening credits pretty short and the total download time is under one minute.
Menus & Navigation
While the menus are functional, they're not that well designed. Some of the options are small (height, not width). Some of the labels are small and can be a little hard to read (depending on your vision).
Ease Of Use / Play Control
Madden NFL 09 features two completely separate control schemes: Touch Screen control and Classic control. Having both control schemes gives players a great choice. The only problem is that the contol scheme has to be decided PRIOR TO THE DOWNLOAD, meaning if the guest isn't comfortable with the current control scheme, both players must disconnect, and then the host must select the new control scheme, and then reconnect.
One thing to note about Madden NFL 09... and, in fact, all of the core Electonic Arts sports games... is that the games for realism and thoroughness. What this means is that there is a lot to learn and a lot to remember, so playing one for the first time can seem daunting. In the case of EA sports titles, the best preparation is to know the sport that the game is based on (in this case, American Football).
Like last year's Madden NFL 08, this year's Madden NFL 09 features excellent graphics. The sound enhances the mode, sets up the plays, and makes you aware of what's going on. Feature-wise, Madden NFL 09's multiplayer football experience has all the same options as the previous year (with no new additions). The other Single-Card Download feature from last year's edition was enitrely removed as a Single-Card Downloadable option. It's still in the game as a single player minigame and for hotseat mode (where players pass along a single Nintendo DS system.
Last year's Madden NFL 08 was a great game with an excellent offering of both traditional American Football (for the core sports fan) and Paper Football (for the casual sports fan and non-sports fan). Last year's American Football is amazing and includes full games over Single-Card Download while last year's Paper Football is extremely fun and can get just about anyone involved, regardless of whether of nor they are a fan of the sports. This year's American Football is still amazing; in fact, it's exactly the same with only some player statistic changes (no additional teams, no additional options, etc. in this year's Single-Card Download offering). But what about this year's Paper Football? Well, it's kind of... gone.
For a point of fact, it's still on the cartridge, but is no longer available via Single-Card Download play. You can still play it Single-Player (as the host), but the only multiplayer option now is hotseat mode, an option that involves passing the containing Nintendo DS system around. One of the reasons I like Single-Card Download multiplayer (one of the many reasons) is because I don't have to put my system's security in the hands of someone else: someone who might drop it. Beside that reason, Paper Football via hotseat mode just isn't fun. In last year's game, I'd use the time my opponent was playing to plot my next move and keep my hand set from my last move to remember how to change it, and that isn't even possible via hotseat mode.
Now I know I've spent an inordinate amount of time on Paper Football and I've spent very little time on the full American Football experience. My reasoning is that the the American Football is just as great as last year. In fact, it's basically the exact same this as last year. There's nothing new to speak of. The loss of Paper Football (in terms of Single-Card Download) however, is much more noteworthy because of how fun and well-thought out the game was. My conclusion is this. Because I only review content sent via Single-Card Download, Paper Football is dead to me and doesn't contribute to the review score any more. If you'd rather pass your Nintendo DS system around with other people for mini games, buy Madden NFL 09. If you'd rather have other people downloading a copy to their Nintendo system, save some money and pick up a copy of last year's Madden NFL 08.
Change the menus to enlarge the tappable options and their labels.
Allow for the sellection of the control scheme as part of the download, not just on the main menu.
Reinstate Paper Football's Single-Card Downloadable status.
Offer a Single-Card Download multiplayer option for all of the minigames (in addition to their current hotseat mode).
Provide a Single-Card Downloadable Demo option for all of the minigames to be played as single player game demos.
Category Score: 12.5 / 15
Overall Single-Card Download Rating: 80 / 100 (a.k.a. 40/50)
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