Genre: Sports Developer: Electronic Arts Publisher: Electronic Arts Players: 1-2 Released: 1992
John Madden Football is probably the most well-know sports game series ever made, no doubt about it. Debuting in 1989 on Apple II computers, Madden Football has probably appeared on more video game consoles than any other game series out there (except for probably Tetris), and is still going strong. But did you know that there was a rental-only version of Madden for the Genesis called John Madden Football ’93: Championship Edition (referred to as JMF: CE from here on out)? Let’s take a deeper look at this obscure game.
JMF: CE was released as a rental store exclusive game, much like Final Fight Guy on SNES and Flintstones 2 on NES were, meaning you could only find the game at places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. This makes the game a bit difficult to find, but since most people don’t know how rare the game is (or that it even exists for that matter), a copy can be found for cheap at times, even on eBay. Complete copies are much rarer than cart-only copies though due to the nature of the game being a rental store exclusive. Boxes for this game were probably thrown away or used as display cases, and therefore are much tougher to find. But don’t fret, if you look closely, you’ll be able to find a copy at a reasonable price.
First off, what makes this game unique over John Madden Football ’93 is that the game features the best championship pro football teams from years past for each city rather than the current teams, along with two “Madden Greats” teams (John Madden’s favorite players all put on one team). This feature is really interesting, and something I have never seen a football game include. Some cities have multiple teams this way, and each team is designated by their city’s name and the year (for example, Philadelphia ’80). Each team has different stats, and some have weaknesses and strengths.
There are four different modes of play, pre-season, regular season, playoffs, and sudden death, although you can’t take a team through a whole sixteen game season like in other Madden games. But the playoff mode is very good, watching the best teams ever to play pro football duke it out. There’s also a built-in save battery, so there’s no passwords needed in this game.
One more thing I like about the presentation of this game is that there are different weather conditions and grass you can play on, which gives the game a little bit of replay value. You can play in the rain, in snow, on turf, or grass, in a domed stadium, or an open stadium. There are a lot of possibilities for gameplay.
The gameplay in JMF: CE is solid. You’ve got a vertical view of the field (unlike the other football games of the time like Joe Montana which feature a horizontal view of the field. Personally, I prefer the vertical view of the field; it makes passing a LOT easier and gives you a better view of the entire field. The controls in this game are spot-on, and there are a variety of different plays and positions to choose from, from 4-3, to 3-4, to shotgun, to far, normal, all kinds of different plays to choose from, the possibilities on which play to run seem near endless at times.
The AI isn’t all that challenging, but it’s not too easy either. At times it will give you a run for your money, and sometimes it’ll fumble the ball. What I found interesting about the gameplay is that the AI doesn’t pick its play right away; it takes about ten seconds in the huddle, reminiscent of a real football game. The one thing I don’t like about the gameplay though is that the quarters tend to drag on a little too long at times it seems. The game is four quarters long, and you have the option of making quarters five, ten, or fifteen minutes long. I also would have liked to have seen a sort of “Madden’s play pick” feature as seen in the Joe Montana Football games, but it’s not something that’s truly needed.
The graphics are decent. The field has scaling, which reminded me of SNES Super Mario Kart graphics, and looks pretty impressive for the Genesis. The game doesn’t look all that colorful though, nor is there much detail. There is an interesting John Madden on the title screen though that moves like an animatronics robot, which always gets a few laughs out of me as he waves his arms around goofily.
I must say one thing though; the sound in this game is ear-bleeding. There are all of about two songs: one for the title screen, and one for the ending. They both sound really just horrible. Thankfully, there is none of this bad music during the gameplay, so it really doesn’t affect the game. There is a little bit of speech, but only four or five sayings, and they only are heard when someone carries out a really good play, a play screws up, or something unexpected happens.
Overall, JMF: CE is pretty decent football game. It’s got some nice features, great gameplay, and realistic graphics. If you don’t have a John Madden Football game (or a football game in general), pick this one up. It’s probably the most unique Madden game for the Genesis. It’ll look pretty good on the shelf too.
SCORE: 8 out of 10