Aside from the inclusion of a few new minigames, Madden NFL 07 doesn't have much to offer over last year's game. In fact, it contains all of the same play modes that the two previous Madden games on the GBA did, and it looks, sounds, and plays identically to them, too. That's all well and good for anyone that's happy playing the same solid, functional football game for three years running, but it's sure going to disappoint everyone else who was hoping they'd finally choose this year to jazz up the game's overall energy level, or, at the very least, put in a franchise mode.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2006/241/reviews/932582_20060830_embed002.jpgMadden NFL 07 looks and plays exactly like the previous games did.
Play modes and options match what was available last year. Full games can be played in the quick play and season modes. The season mode lets you run through an entire NFL season with your favorite team, although its GM options are fairly limited. You can trade and sign players and assign players to the roster, but that's about it. Outside of full games, you can also kill a few spare minutes in the practice, two-minute drill, situation, and minicamp modes. They're nothing special, although the minicamp mode does offer nine football-themed minigames to play. Two players can link up to play against each other in the majority of game modes. Up to six can participate in the minicamp mode in a pass-and-play fashion. Once again, this year's game doesn't offer a franchise mode or a create-a-player feature.
Gameplay hasn't changed one bit since the previous game. Like its predecessors, Madden NFL 07 on the GBA isn't overly intricate, but it does provide a suitably authentic portrayal of the gridiron. For the most part, the CPU plays an intelligent game. Running plays are slightly more effective than passing plays against the computer, but the CPU usually switches to a pressure defense if you attempt consecutive runs. As it is, you can adjust specific aspects of the CPU artificial intelligence from the settings menu.
By and large, the only major difference between this year's game and its predecessors is that the minicamp mode in this latest game offers a wider selection of football-themed minigames. They've added five new ones this year, for a grand total of nine. Besides goofing around with the same field goal, passing, running, and tackling drills that were present in earlier games, players can now also try their hand at short-distance punts, catching passes, covering the wide receiver, sacking the QB, or running a 40-yard dash. None of the new minigames are all that great, but they are decent time wasters that offer an alternative method of practice that doesn't involve playing a full game or a two-minute drill. The ability to challenge as many as five of your friends in pass-and-play fashion is also nice.
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/2006/241/reviews/932582_20060830_embed003.jpgThe big improvement this year is the addition of five new minigames.
Instead of putting so much effort into coming up with new minigames, the development team probably should've devoted some of that energy to sprucing up the game's audiovisual presentation. Once again, the skewed field viewpoint and sprite-rendered players do an adequate job of conveying a faked 3D perspective. Player movement down the field is also silky smooth, as has always been the case. Unfortunately, play-related animations, such as for dives and tackles, haven't changed, either. They're still just as choppy and stilted as they were two years ago. The bigger issue, though, is that the presentation still doesn't offer much in the way of excitement or personality. On the visual side of things, there aren't any animations or cutaways devoted to posttackle or touchdown celebrations. As for the audio, it mostly consists of persistent crowd noise and a few player grunts. John Madden and Al Michaels do chime in with a canned comment here and there, but the variety and frequency of their contributions is very limited. Their recorded comments are also the same ones from the previous game.
In the end, whether Madden NFL 07 for the Game Boy Advance is the right football game for you depends primarily on which handheld game systems you own and how much exposure you've had to previous Madden games on the GBA. Owners of last year's game, for instance, might want to pass on this new one, since it's primarily just a roster upgrade. By contrast, if you're new to the whole Madden thing and the only handheld you own is a GBA, then this version of Madden NFL 07 should be sufficient for your needs. Its presentation may lack heart, but it still provides the same solid fundamentals that the franchise is known for. Of course, anyone with access to a Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable would be crazy to plunk down for the GBA version, since the versions available for those systems are peppier and offer a wider selection of play modes.