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John Madden Football (Genesis)


Company: Electronic Arts
Year: 1990
Plataform: Sega Genesis (Megadrive)
Other Names: John Madden Football – Pro Football
Controller: Default controller of the console.


The dude with white jersey took too literaly the idea of adding green food to his diet.

Early 90s. The 16bit consoles started to gain popularity replacing the 8bit ones. Videogame developers trying to get advantage of the increased tech power of the new consoles, started to develop interesting and innovating videogames.

Electronic Arts realizing they had an unpolished diamond in an american football game for personal computers, where the main issue was the one-button controller, adjusted a bit the game taking advantage of the multi-button controller of the Megadrive, developing one of the first killer apps for the console, literally mounting a high-scoring offense.


Select a play, you can not complain of a scarse variety.

The videogame keeps the vast library of plays and formations, either offensive or defensive ones, but now it’s a lot easier to select one using one of the buttons from the controller. This simple change has a deep impact in improving the pace of the match. The interface is clear enough and it’s amazingly easy to distinguish between passing and running plays.

The execution of the play remains the same, but instead of double-clicking one button, you use only one to send the ball to the quaterback, and if a running play is in action, it goes automatically to the runner. But if it’s a passing play, it’s possible to see in the top of the screen to which receiver send the ball if you press any button. It’s quite clear to see the receiver, but you have to still keep an eye on upcoming deffensive players.

Whoever has the ball, can perform a dive to try to advance a couple of extra yards (which can be definitive) and other button to temporaty increase the speed for a few seconds. Deffensively, the use of the buttons is similar, and it’s possible to give incredible hits to the rival using them at the right time.

Give good use to the time and find the right receiver.

Just like other videogames, if you pick up the right deffensive play against the offensive play, the rival will suffer from not advancing at all to a fumble. Otherwise, ge ready to suffer the consequences, because the offensive will advance like a hot knife thru butter.

The way to kick, either to score or punt, also has a vertical bar to show the power of the kick, and an horizontal one to show where the kick will go. So, be careful not to miss an almost sure extra point kick.

Finally, you can use audibles, meaning you can change the play at the line prior to the hutt. Personally I see this as playing a Russian Roulette, because it gives a certain touch of uncertainty to the game.

The videogame provides three game modes: regular season, playoffs and sudden-death series where the team to score first is the winner. The last one is incredibly good in tournament amongst fellows.


Considering that neither license from NFL or its teams were available to use in the game, don’t expect to find real players names or nicknames in this videogames. Also, not all of the teams are present in the game. Instead, there are only the cities and the colors of the uniforms, with one exception:

DenverHoustonKansas CityLos Angeles (Rams)
MiamiMinnesotaNew EnglandNew York (Giants)
PhiladelphiaPittsburghSan FranciscoWashington

Being that exception, the “bully” of the teams, not available in regular season mode, All-Madden, which in an incredible cosmic coincidence, has the same colors as the Los Angeles Raiders.

Every team has its strengths and weaknesses, relatively well taken from the real ones of the teams they are representing at the time. By example, New York has great linebackers, Denver a high-scoring quarterback but lacking a strong deffensive against the run, Miami has a really good quarterback but do not have nice running backs.

Other Plataforms

Nintendo Super NES

Executing an audible.

The game appeared for this platform the next year. It’s practically identical to the Genesis one, but personally, I think it’s less fluid and the graphics are not as well defined.

But, this version compensates by getting the use of all the teams, although still naming them only by city, with the following changes:

  • New York Jets appears as New Jersey
  • Los Angeles Raiders appears as Oakland

The gamemodes remain the same, but a nice touch is a brief analisis of both teams given by Madden himself before the start of a match, indicating strength and weakness of both teams. Like quarterback, running game, deffense, and others.

Yes, the Rugal team, All-Madden, still appears wearing the Raiders colors, and of course, vastly superior on all categories to any other team available.


The port of Super NES was later ported to a Commodore Amiga adaptation.


Is it really necessary to mention it? Adjusting a few details of the first version, this game became an outstanding success whose sequels have practically appeared in every game console since then.

We’ll probably write about some sequels in the future.


Uff, the tournaments with my colleague buddies were legendary. Since it was easy to play, hard to master, allowed even the most rookie ones to enter a tournament without humiliating themselves a lot.

I usually was a good offensive videoplayer, being my main weak point, the hability to anticipate effective defense plays.


Sport Icon designed by Smashicons of FlatIcon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.

Console Icons taken from Retroarch.

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