What’s The Best Madden NFL Game Ever?

After being thankful and eating lots of food, football is a staple of most families’ Thanksgiving. Whether we like it or not, Madden has been the series leader for the last 3 decades. So we thought in the spirit of Thanksgiving we would cover each of our favorite Madden games in the long series.

Flash’s Runner Up: Madden NFL 95

Madden NFL 95

While Madden NFL 95 is one of the early entries in the storied series, it remains one of my favorites. Some of you youngsters may never understand the pain joy it was to play with passing windows. If you just said “huh?”, let me break it down for you. 

You know how in the Madden games from the last two decades, when you drop back to pass, the game zooms out for you? This mechanic allows for more believable play-action passes and delayed handoffs. Well, in the early Madden games, the game stayed at the same zoom level! To see your downfield receivers, you relied on a close-up window of them at the top of your screen. 

Horrible, right?! 

Well Madden NFL 95 decided to get rid of this awful feature and, because of it, many view this as the best Genesis rendition of the game. Madden NFL 95 had weather effects which affected the run game with at-times-ice-skate-like momentum. All in all, the game was fun! Pick between your favorite 90s powerhouse of the Cowboys, 49ers, or Packers and run wild! 

The game’s engine was so good it was featured in other Genesis hits. Bill Walsh College Football and Mutant League Football both had the same look and feel. One allowed you to play as college kids featuring college playbooks. The other allowed you to beat the living snot out of your opponents. Make sure you feed Bones Jackson (no relation to Bo Jackson) the ball!

If you haven’t tried Madden NFL 95 before, go grab an emulator and give it a whirl. Just don’t get the SNES version. It was oddly and surprisingly horrible in comparison.

Yoshyaes’s Runner-up: Madden NFL ‘99

Madden NFL 99

When I’m not hanging out with friends, franchise mode is my go-to. Madden NFL ‘99 was the first to let gamers grind through multiple seasons with a franchise, signing free agents, trading players, and building your ultimate dynasty.

I also invested heavily into the draft, meticulously planning out any positional gaps I had from year to year. As a diehard Eagles fan, I built around a young Duce Staley and Brian Dawkins over the course of many seasons. By the third year, I had high potential players at every position and was striking fear in the eyes of every other team!

With the prior year’s release introducing 3D graphics, ‘99 got the benefit of the upgraded visuals to make franchise mode look even more stunning. ‘99 also brought in the chop block, which opened the door for more big plays in the running game!

To top all this off, you could play as the ridiculously OP Tiburon team! This fake squad was made of dozens of near-perfect players who would make any created team blush.

For all the people out there who remember sleepovers, Madden NFL ‘99 took advantage of PlayStation’s multi-tap, allowing for up to 8 players at a time! In the days before the internet, this was unheard of, and a great way to keep several teenagers busy at a time.

Flash’s Favorite: Madden NFL 2005

Madden NFL 05

Madden NFL 2005 brings me back to my college days. Following the entry that I almost chose here Madden NFL 04 with Michael Vick on the cover, Madden NFL 2005 brought attention to the defensive side of the ball unlike any of its predecessors. Following the infamous introduction to the Highlight stick in 04 where everyone and their mamas ran absolutely wild with arguably the most unstoppable sports video game character ever in Vick, the developers had to do something.

The Hit stick was the worthy counterpart and Ray Lewis ushered it in with emphasis. At the flick of the joystick, you could have your Linebacker, Safety, or Edge Rusher deliver a devastating blow to an unfortunate carrier of the ball. The screen would rattle and the sound would be amped up. Pass over the middle? Not so fast. Toss to the speedy halfback? No thanks. QB scampering for a first down? Better learn how to slide. If you weren’t careful you would be the recipient of one of these infinitely satisfying blows and more often than not the ball would be on the turf. 

If not using the Ravens, you could have just as much fun wreaking havoc with the Bears, Bucs, Panthers, or Steelers. I’ll always believe the key to a good football game is making defense engaging and fun. Otherwise, every game just becomes a run and gun shootout. Madden NFL 2005 accomplishes this and then some.

Another redeeming quality about Madden NFL 2005 was its competition. As good as it was, there is a significant amount of people who believe ESPN NFL 2K5 is the superior game. Ignoring the less than 50% price tag, the mechanics of the game felt like a more realistic entry than Madden games offered. No matter which side of the coin you sit on, the simulation football gaming space needs competition again!.

Someone start a petition so EA can release its exclusive rights to the NFL and NFLPA so a formidable opponent can once again force the default king to give us great content again!

Yoshyaes Favorite: Madden NFL 2006

Madden NFL 06

I can’t say nearly enough about the cone of vision. This feature singlehandedly made me the most dominant Madden player in my friend group for the entirety of my first year in college. My proudest moment was when someone from my floor left the game at halftime, walked out of the room, and never played me again. Forced retirement ftw.

For those unfortunate souls who don’t know what the cone of vision is, let’s just say it’s the greatest thing to ever happen in a simulation football game! It was a literal cone that protruded out from the front of your quarterback, effectively creating an area on the field where your throws would be most accurate.

For elite QBs like Peyton Manning, the cone was basically the width of the field. For the less accurate passers (*cough* A.J. Feeley *cough*), you had a sliver of a cone that looked more like a line.

Back to my Eagles’ roots, Donavan McNabb was 97 overall, with a nice cone of vision and great mobility. I was absolutely untouchable with this team, with regular blowouts when anyone challenged me!

Those who couldn’t use the cone complained about it 24/7. But for me, I could manipulate any defense to one side of the field before throwing a bomb down the opposite side. 

What is your favorite Madden game of all time?

You may have noticed we haven’t picked any Madden games released in the past decade. This is in part due to a switch in genre preference but more importantly, Madden has been getting consistent subpar reviews the last several years. 

Do you think it’s time for a competitor like 2K Sports to present a true rival again? If you’re still playing Madden, what has been your favorite over the last decade? Would you change anything about the direction the franchise is heading in? Let us know in the comment section!

If you like games and want to be the first to read our latest post, leave your e-mail below. We promise not to spam you!

[mc4wp_form id=”158″]

Also, we just started a new podcast! Check out episode one here, where we talk about the free-to-play gaming model!

Ready to start your journey?

It's dangerous to go alone! Join us!