|Classic Teams Reborn ?
Veteran Madden gamer Scott Hemphill laments on the disappearance of "classic" teams from recent Madden releases and suggests that it is time for them be make a re-appearance.
"Madden Day" for Madden 11 is nearly here, and only a week away. No reviews have hit the web yet, and the reception of the demo has been a mixed bag, depending on who you talk to.
But that's not what I'm going talk about. Rather, I'd like to take the opportunity in this article to suggest a way that the Madden series can be made fresh again, going forward, particularly online.
I sincerely believe that one of the main things that hurts the longevity of a given Madden release is the fact that the game is limited to the 32 current NFL teams. Lets think about that for a moment. Of those 32 teams, people generally want to use the top 4 or 5 teams online. Lets face it, people want to give themselves the best chance to win and therefore they aren’t exactly going to line up to play as the Bears, Browns, 49ers, Rams, Bucs, Raiders, and countless other teams. In short, Madden has a “too few teams to use” option by comparison to its NCAA counterpart, who’s got over a hundred teams to pick from, with much more varied schemes and play styles. Meanwhile, on Madden, people generally want to use top-teams only, and as injuries happen throughout the real NFL season, even those top five teams at the beginning of the season have depleted rosters due to injury and a fall from grace (not mentioning any names ? - Ed). For example, who would want to roll with the Colts if Manning is out? (Answer: very few people) So as the season progresses towards its conclusion, and Madden roster updates roll out to reflect the injured, people find themselves using a dwindling number of teams for online play, often not even a team that they actually "want" to use. Many gamers, such as myself, get bored with the current 32, and either don’t play Madden much, or tinker around over on NCAA, or jump to another game entirely.
(Modern Warfare 2, anyone? Halo Reach?)
This difference will only become more glaring between the two EA football products as NCAA improves (as it did to a great degree this year) and Madden still only allows those same tired old 32 teams to be taken online.
I am of the opinion that EA should mine its deep Madden past to come up with an answer for this “Madden limited team boredom.” In short, it is time for Madden to re-introduce the classic teams of the past.
Yes, it has been done before. I even know when it started. It was fall of 1992 when Madden ‘93 dropped for 16 bit. It shipped with not only the current 30 teams (at that time), but it also included 8 legendary teams of the past. Those teams were 76 Oakland, 78 Pittsburgh, 84 San Fran, 85 Chicago, 82 Washington, 72 Miami, 77 Dallas, and 86 New York. I remember the game being a dorm-room hit at my college. After we got bored of using the top teams in head to head (then, it was Dallas, Buffalo, and San Fran), we would fire up some classic matchups of the all-time greats. We’d have the 76 Oakland squad tangle with 78 Pittsburgh, and the 85 Chicago team fight it out with 84 San Fran. We loved it!
Shortly after that, EA released a Blockbuster Video Only Rental Title called “Madden 93 Championship Edition”. It was a 16 bit cartridge that contained only classic teams. It included all the Super Bowl winners and losers up until that year. To this day, that game still holds the record as the “most stolen rental in Blockbuster Video history.” Many gamers would just keep the game rental and pay the fine (which was slightly above the price of a new Madden game, if I recall). However, the point is, the game was a cult hit, even though it was merely made for rental.
Starting around Madden ‘94, all the Super Bowl winners and losers from the past were included in each release of Madden, though, understandably, they players were only numbered and not named.
Since that time, classic teams in Madden had their ups and downs. They peaked with Madden 2002 on Playstation 2. That was the year when not only were the classic teams included, but also many classic stadiums, such as RFK, Three Rivers, Old Oakland Coliseum, and Cleveland Municipal... just to name a few. Unfortunately, EA never allowed gamers to take classic teams online, so the feature kind of rotted on the vine, and fell out of favor. EA did away with even having the un-named roster classic teams in Next Gen versions of Madden, a situation that still persists today.
However, I think the time for classic teams in Madden is now... or at least Madden 12. Quite frankly, in very short order, Madden often becomes a very dull title due to limited teams that can be used online. It is time for EA to realize that they should also promote the NFL’s past as well as its present. I understand the difficulty in signing countless athletes from the past individually. I’m merely suggesting they do the same thing that they do for the college football game. Let us name them, and, worst case, let us number them correctly if we must. Just make sure to let us save and share the file’s online, and make sure that we can SEE those names/numbers online . We will do the rest. Period-specific playbooks would be great too. (Oilers with the Run N’ Shoot anyone? Or how about the run’n shoot 91 Falcons with a certain legendary cornerback, kick returner #21?)
I know, for myself, I’m way more interested in taking the 93 Oilers, 85 Bears, 89 49ers, 78 Steelers, 76 Raiders, and countless other teams, against my buddy who would be picking his teams from a huge slate of current and historical teams, all with different playbooks from different eras..
..Instead of the same old tired matchups of the current Colts, Saints, etc.
...and LORD knows how many times we’ll see the Bengals online this year.
2K Sports is realizing a similar thing with their NBA 2K NBA franchise this year, and including classic NBA teams in the mix. NBA 2K11 will ship with legendary teams such as the 85 Celtics, 91 Pistons, 90 Lakers, 94 Knicks, and mid 90s Bulls, just to name a few. (Good thing too, because how sick will we all be of playing people who plan on using nothing but the HEAT all season long!??!) 2K is starting to come around to this “classic teams” idea, but will EA with Madden?
EA, please give us some variety with Madden. Trust me, us Madden players will have had our fill of seeing the current Bengals, Colts, Saints, and Patriots by the mid-way point of the real NFL season on Madden 11...if not sooner.
Time to shake things up EA. Give us way more teams to use than the current 32 going forward. EA, please give us the classic teams of the NFL to go along with the standard 32 current teams.
..and maybe even their old stadiums too. ;)
We need the variety.