A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an incredibly realistic football simulation, even in its handheld incarnation. The game features the occasional hard hit (and some ads from game maker EA), but gameplay emphasizes the strategic and intellectual demands of football. The only thing parents need to worry about is how much time their kids will spend immersed in their virtual seasons. Parents should also note that this game is online enabled; Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for anyone under 12.
What's it about?
MADDEN NFL 06 is much like the installments that preceded it. Players manage almost every aspect of an NFL game in a perfect synthesis of coaching and player control. Players select plays, throw passes, run the ball, tackle opponents, kick field goals, and manage the game clock.
Teams reflect off-season roster changes, and there's an option for downloading updates. But the bread and butter of the game is the multi-season franchise mode in which players manage their favorite teams through training camp, pre-season games, the 16-game regular season -- and hopefully the playoffs and Super Bowl. This is a football junkie's dream: Players develop young talent, tinker with their lineups, practice critical plays and then unleash their franchise on opponents.
Is it any good?
What's most impressive about this EA installment is its strong move to a handheld system. Graphics are crisp enough to compete with console versions. The massive amount of player information and match-up analysis seems impossible for a small-screen system to handle. And yet, Madden NFL 06 delivers -- mostly.
The game suffers from some technical hiccups. Players experience a long pause any time a game-changing animation is initiated (like during a turnover or score); load times are long and loading screen images are often broken; and when players are in franchise mode, the game occasionally shuts down your PSP at the end of then game. EA has published a work-around, but this is still annoying. Overall, this is a great extension of the successful franchise into portable gaming.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about football's appeal. Are you into it for the brutish hits, the big personalities, or -- as this game emphasizes -- the complex strategy? Do you think your viewpoint is the same as or different from most football fans? Did the game's intellectual focus change your opinion of the sport?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.