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Hands-on with Madden for the Wii

Hands-on with Madden for the Wii

The hard-core Nintendo fan base is not one that takes kindly to perennial sports franchises. It's no surprise, then, that EA's GameCube support has been rather spotty when compared to its more adept online competitors, the PS2 and the Xbox. Those expecting a retread of half-assed support may be surprised when they see the Wii version of Madden in action.

The "behind closed doors" demo of Madden in the EA booth consisted of three parts: passing, kicking, and a quick game. The passing was surprisingly intuitive, considering how complex it can be. The analog on the nunchuck controller moves the QB, while the D-pad chooses the receiver. A flick of the Wii remote tosses the ball, with the velocity of your movement affecting the pass's intensity.

Kicking isn't quite as central to the Madden experience, but EA has put plenty of work into incorporating the unique control method. To set up your kick, the nunchuck analog stick controls the aim. Pressing the remote's A button starts the kicker's approach, and an upward flick kicks the ball. The timing takes a bit of getting used to--you do the motion slightly before the kick--but it's a fun alternative to one of the sport's more boring video game mores.

The standard gameplay portion, and my performance in it, wasn't quite up to snuff. While using the motion pointer to select a play was pretty neat, as was the ability to point at your defenseman instead of the frustrating cycling that went on in traditional Madden title, the running game could use a little fine-tuning. The running moves seem to be haphazardly mixed between button presses and controller movements. Keeping track of the tricks has never been easy for Madden neophytes; now they have to contend with bizarre hand movements too. If the developers can make the game a bit more manageable and user-friendly, the Madden-averse may find their hook into the franchise.