Madden NFL 99

PlayStation 1
Released in 1998 by EA Sports
Grade: C+

It may have been impressive in its time, but Madden 99 isn’t much fun to play today.

Where it falls in the series

It’s the third on PS1. The first two use sprites with a pseudo-3D look and have football logic similar to the 16-bit Madden games. Madden 99 looks and plays totally different, using 3D polygons and more realistic physics. It’s pretty funny to read old reviews and see how these junky graphics blew people away back then.

Praises and gripes

The football logic has its strengths and weaknesses. On the bright side, plays look natural as they unfold, with lineman clashing, receivers gaining momentum as they run up the field, and defenders realistically following their assignments.

Passing is troubled, however. Receivers are often standing still by the time the ball reaches them, and even the best QBs misfire often, like a team that’s always a bit out of sync. Certain routes that are designed for an easy 5-yard gain seem impossible, and you have a better chance of completing a 25-yard bomb.

Running the ball is a good challenge in finding open spaces, but the control is stiff and sticky on the PS1 D-pad. When you’re on defense, it’s even more frustrating, with sticky control and inconsistent collision detection. I started to feel surprised when I actually made a solid tackle.

The playbooks are balanced, but small by modern standards. Strategy adjustments before the snap are also limited.

The game packs too much frustration than it’s worth. To get good at it, you’ll start to exploit its quirks, instead of using a well-rounded football approach. It’s a step in the right direction, but a lackluster final product.

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