The biggest secret of the Madden Football franchise is that MaddenFootball is, for the most part, real actual garbage. I’m sorry. I know that hurt for some of you.
But by and large, it’s true: Madden games still tend to make for clunky, unforgiving gaming. It’s almost miraculous how Madden can take the fastest sport on grass and somehow make it feel like trench warfare fought with throw pillows.
That being said, the franchise has had its moments, and I have to give a tip of the cap to Madden 2001, whose next-gen graphics blew the mind of every child who walked into Target in the early aughts and saw the demo set up on a brand new PlayStation 2. The first time I saw digital Eddie George and his to-scale soap-bar mouthguard, I left the store figuring he would elected president very soon.
Honorable Mention: Pong
Developer: Atari (1972)
The GOAT original game that pioneered the stay-at-home, Netflix-and-chill environment for parents of millennials to come.
NBA Street Vol. 2
Developer: EA Sports BIG (2003)
The natural product of the AND1 Mixtape Tour’s explosion in the early aughts.
I don’t remember if NBA Street was fun from a gameplay standpoint, but I do remember you could unlock Stretch and his magnificent afro, and that was all that really mattered.
Best Part: Trying the characters’ dribbling moves in your driveway and walking away bloody.
Wave Race 64
Developer: Nintendo (1996)
The game that taught a generation you aren’t really flexing until you pull up to the function on a dolphin.
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
Developer: EA Black Box (2002)
The first racing game I can remember that tapped into man’s deep desire to down-shift and make Officer Polanski earn this one when being pulled over.
Best Part: Breaking the law.
Best Part: Sitting sideways, bottlenose in the days.