Madden NFL Arcade is, well, exactly what the title says. Take your standard Madden game and strip it down to one game mode, make the players look kind of funny, and put five players on each side of the ball. This makes for an NFL Street meets NFL Blitz type of feel to the game. EA has taken America’s sport and created an ultra-accessible, fast-paced version. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s just realistic Madden with five players—there are enough new ideas here to make it fresh.
On defense, you will play with a lineman, a linebacker, two corners and a safety. On offense, you get your own lineman, a quarterback, running back and two wide-outs. The game is preset with the best five players from each team (in EA’s opinion). This is the team you’ll have the whole time. They won’t get hurt, so you don’t have to worry about protecting your players, and there is no option to substitute players into the game, as there is no bench.
This is an arcade game, so you’ll have to be prepared for a version of football that is far from, well, real football. Much of what makes up traditional NFL football is not present here, such as penalties, timeouts, challenges, kicking, etc. The main result of these omissions is that the game moves very quickly and there is very little down time. That’s not to say, however, that both teams will be marching down the field and scoring on every possession. The Game Changers, explained in a moment, see to it that defenses can control games at times too.
Game Changers are what add a real twist to Madden NFL Arcade. These are essentially quick-hit weapons you are able to use on given plays. They are given to you at random, and you can implement them before a play with the push of a button. There are 13 of them in all, and some are more effective than others. Some of these Game Changers include freezing one of the opposing players in place, adding a second defensive lineman to go for a sack, gaining an extra down on offense, speeding up or slowing down the play, and even turning off the opposition’s passing icons when you’re on defense. They make for an interesting dynamic on almost every play, and they save the game from monotony.
You can obviously take this game online and show off your skills. You’ll be able to play one-on-one against an online opponent, but you can also play cooperatively with up to three other players on your team. This is a really nice addition, and adds some much-needed depth since there are no offline modes other than quick games.
Visually, this game looks like the Madden we all know with a coat of cartoon paint. The players are shaped disproportionally, and the environment looks very animated. It’s not meant to look real, and the game excels in creating a fun, light atmosphere. The quirky and entertaining sound effects also do a lot to create this atmosphere.
Madden NFL Arcade is a very entertaining little game. It doesn’t attempt to be an NFL sim, so don’t buy it expecting one. The arcade feel with real NFL teams and players included is a nice combination, and at only around ten bucks this will be a great addition to your library that you can fire up and enjoy a few minutes of fast-paced arcade fun.