Wednesday, August 20, 2008


It happened more than a week ago, but The Common Man didn't even notice. Once upon a time, he anxiously anticipated this day, standing outside the store, hoping to get in, out, and back home in record time. He's talking, of course, about the Madden release day. Every year in August, EA Sports rolls out its game, the gold standard (hell, now it's the only standard) of football games. Men drool and women go into mourning (for their lost men).

But this year, the release barely registered above a whisper. Maybe it's that the Madden commentary just gets recycled every year, making The Common Man feel like he's playing the same game every year, becoming more and more bland and cliched and nonsensical. Maybe it's that the game itself has finally gotten stale. Maybe it's that The Common Man's gotten so good he's not challenged anymore. Maybe it's that he turned 30, and thinks 30 year olds shouldn't be sitting 3 feet from the TV, punching buttons and pulling levers. Maybe it's that he stubbornly refuses to upgrade from his PS2 (a gift from when The Uncommon Wife was The Uncommon Girlfriend, does she ever regret that gift now).

The Common Man doesn't know, but frankly, for once, couldn't care less. He is just not excited. Not covetous. Not curious. He's over it. He doesn't even care that the Vikings are supposed to be very good this year (what with Adrian (Purple Jesus) Peterson at running back and the best defensive line since the Purple People

Eaters). Or that there's a new "adaptive difficulty engine" that automatically increases the game's difficulty according to your skill level. Or that Brett Favre is finally off the Packers.

And, frankly, that kind of makes The Common Man sad. Sad over his lost youth, when he could get really excited about a new video game. Sad over misspent time in his youth, playing Madden when he could have been reading or playing a sport or watching more bad movies. And sad that something that used to give him pleasure now gives him the "eh"s. But he also feels a little freer, happy he'll have additional time in a life that seems increasingly short of it. Still and all, The Common Man will have to find something to fill that hole. Probably booze. Maybe gambling. He'll let you know.


BillP said...

I understand just where you're coming from. However, I got mine in the mail yesterday. And:

(1) There's new commentary, by some dude and Cris Collandsworth, that's a lot better than the phony home-team radio broadcast they had (at least on the 360) the last couple years. Madden even did some new stuff, but not on-field; seems like he's kind of in J.B.'s studio-guy role.

(2) The graphics (again, at least on the 360) are different somehow. Better, I think, sharper, but they'll take some getting used to.

(3) The special 20th Anniversary edition contains a "full" version (which as far as I can figure means "exhibition games only," but they didn't have the NFLPA license yet, so a whole season would be interminable anyway) of Madden '93, which I'm quite sure we played thoroughly when it was new(ish) on your rockin' Sega Genesis when our arms got tired from HR derby. Playing a quarter of it last night was like trying to read an essay in which every other word has been translated into Mandarin. It kind of looks like football, but sometimes it's hard to tell that those are supposed to be little people running around down there. Very weird.

(4) Purple Jesus! Actually so far it's been really hard to run, even behind their almost-all-90-plus-rated line, but I assume I'll figure it out.

So, it's not the same as it was, but I think I'll still enjoy it. Cheaper and much less sleazy than gambling, and not mutually exclusive with booze.

The Common Man said...

The Common Man is glad to hear that there's been some actual improvement on the Madden franchise. And there certainly been some improvement since you and The Common Man were rockin' the Sega Genesis. Thanks for the memory. And for the review.