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PSP Review: Madden NFL 06

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Off to a slow start in the current generation of handhelds, EA’s Madden franchise just can’t find footing in the portable realm. The two DS entries were less than stellar, and now the glitchy PSP port arrives in typical, toned down fashion. It’s impressive to feel and use the physics of the series on such a small piece of hardware, but it’s not fun to deal with the multitude of other problems.

Missing most of the typical game modes, Madden ’06 arrives with a whimper. There’s no standard season mode, no deep, involving create-a-player, and the actual gameplay enhancements are minimal. Instead, exclusive to the PSP version are some quick mini-games, which add little to overall package, and even less to the NFL experience.

On the field, the vision cone passing added to the home console renditions this year is thankfully gone, both because it was needlessly complicated and there’s only one analog stick available. Precision passing remains, a nice feature that lets QBs direct passes to specific areas near the intended receiver. It’s a subtle change that will be passed over by novices, while players more familiar with the series will swear by it.

The running game is a sore spot, far too easy on most of the difficulties (with even a meager running back). You’ll need to spend a few games playing with difficulty sliders to find the proper levels suited to your style of play. Defensive backs will have no problem covering receivers, yet seem to have no vision to lock onto a rushing game.

Tackling is fine, the reasonable player models likely looking as good as they could be. Collision detection is perfect, and breaking a tackle is a great feeling. There are moments of slowdown when stepping to the line of scrimmage. It’s a small annoyance and doesn’t affect gameplay.

This can create some problems with the link mode, allowing true overly die-hard Madden fanatics to continue their franchise on their PS2 from their PSP. Simply connect a USB cable to the Playstation 2 to download the necessary data. It’s an easily explained step-by-step process. The obvious gameplay differences will either change the way your franchise was played, or mess up otherwise realistic stats.

Of special note to the PSP are the delays between selecting a play and getting back on the field. It’s brief, and it’s almost to the point of being fussy to make it an issue, but it can be noticeable, especially in a tight contest when you want to be on the field. Commentary is as bland as it can be, and turning off Madden and Michaels isn’t such a bad idea. It will alleviate some of the loading issues.

That’s hardly a major problem when the game crashes however. Countless reports, complaints, and personal experiences show that this one was severely rushed with major coding problems. Be extremely careful when exiting week two (sometimes later) of a franchise game. Madden ’06 will completely shut down your PSP; powering it off and there’s no way to stop it. There have also been sporadic reports of the game erasing memory sticks of all their data, though this hasn’t been confirmed.

It’s not the only problem to contend with either. The game will occasionally hang up during the brief between-plays loading moment. Sometimes pausing will help, as it does to the kick meter when that fails to show up during a kick-off. Other times you’ll need to exit the game completely. All of this seems random, and there’s nothing that can stop it.

That means this is full of glitches, gameplay quirks, and it’s nearly featureless compared to the other versions of Madden. What makes it worth playing? It’s the closest we’ve ever come to a true, current Madden on a handheld, not just a port from the previous generation. That alone will make this appeal to fans of the series who religiously spend $50 a year on it. How agitated they become when the game stops working for them will be the true test of their loyalty.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for His current passion project is the technically minded You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • Nando

    I have FIFA 06 and I am sad to say the shutdown glitch is back. Its a shame too – EA fixed many of the flaws that ruined FIFA Soccer, and it is a really good game except for this one major flaw.

  • Gantua

    Yep, the poweroff thing in Madden 06 ruins what otherwise is a decent game. EA shouold be forced to recall this worthless attempt at coding. I’ll probably never buy another EA coded product again.

  • Brandt D. Locke

    Where can i go to find game sliders for madden ’06. Could you please help?



  • Plan B

    Wow. I thought it was just me that the power off thing happened to. Overall its the best portable port of Madden ever but it could’ve been made so much better if it wasn’t rushed Hopefully EA will get it right for ’07.

  • sebastian

    I was so stoked to get this Madden ’06 for my PSP but I am now totally angered and let down by EA. Way too many glitches and the worse one being the total system shutdown after and sometimes during a game. I read about how they offered a final solution for this problem and will do no more to fix it. This is definitely worthy of a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and I recommend everyone to file one. The more complaints the fast everyone will get a forced refund from EA. It’s just absolutely unaccepptable that they will not go the distance to insure customer satisfaction and let alone back their products 100%. Imagine buying a car and it shutting down everytime it over 3 miles, and the person who sold it to you saying, “oh, well.” You wouldn’t stand for that, so people do not stand for this farce from EA. As far as I am concerned they all of us a refund. Remember,..The Better Business Beurea, or google it and file a complaint with them.

  • PSP Movies

    I love the game, however the general manager “draft” takes forever so I lost a little interest.