For 30 years, we have come to love and enjoy the Madden video game franchise because it mirrors the thrilling experience we get when watching our favorite football teams in the field.
Combining the familiar football game-play with stunning graphics and other interesting elements, it’s hard not to love the Madden football games. Today, we take a look at our top 10 best Madden games of all time.
1. Madden NFL ‘95
At the top of the list is the ‘95 edition of the popular franchise. It became an instant hit to gamers and football fans and not just because it was the first to feature athletes on the cover of the video game copy.
Released in 1994, it was the first to acquire licenses of both the National Football League (NFL) team and profiles of the actual NFL athletes. Real NFL teams, stadiums, and players were all finally available to use.
We like how this release has also given players the option to remove the passing windows on the screen showing the list of receivers open. A widened camera angle is also an important adjustment.
2. Madden NFL 2004
If you’re a fan of former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, then seeing the cover alone may just convince you to name this one the best Madden game of all time. But that’s not the only good thing about this Madden game.
Madden NFL 2004 is the edition that introduced a game-changing aspect to the franchise, the Ownership Mode, giving the game a Sims treatment. Players get to play as owners, set ticket prices to games, and even relocate their teams to cities they like.
We enjoy playing The Sims, so we commend Electronic Arts (EA) for integrating its style into the football game. Funny enough, if you move your team to a certain city and the citizens feel apprehensive about their taxes; they can easily kick your team out and replace it with another.
3. John Madden Football
Clocking John Madden Football in at number three is a no-brainer when it comes to listing the top 10 Madden games. John Madden Football, released in 1988, was the first football video game to ever feature an 11-on-11 game-play, versus the 7-on-7 that other games were offering at the time.
Fun fact: it was actually Madden who strongly insisted the game to be as realistic as possible; hence, the game-play.
It may not have featured actual NFL teams due to the lack of NFL licenses at the time, but it has many elements that can be customized such as weather conditions and player injuries that keep fans interested. Who would’ve thought that what was once just an idea of EA founder Trip Hawkins and color commentator John Madden can have this much impact on the worlds of video games and football?
4. Madden NFL 2005
Year 2005 was the year of dominant defensive plays, so our number four pick, Madden NFL 2005, was crafted to feature defensive hot routes and another new element, the hit stick, to the game. Defensive players can use this feature to inflict brutal hits by flicking the right thumb stick in any direction.
Bonuses include having the Tony Bruno Radio Show and picking Ray Lewis as the cover star. In the Collector’s Edition, fans get to choose different game modes such as Madden Moments, where you can relive and play some of the greatest moments in NFL history.
5. Madden NFL 07
Our number five pick, Madden NFL 07, sparked quite a conversation when cover star Shaun Alexander went through a series of ups and downs during the entire 2006 season when the game was released. After appearing on the cover of the game, Alexander played the whole season with a broken foot while beating Barry Sanders’ record for most consecutive games with a 10-yard plus run.
The following year, the “Madden Curse”, as fans have called it, continued to haunt Alexander as he suffered many injuries including a fractured wrist and sprained knee and ankle.
Madden NFL 07 has two new features, one of which is lead blocking. In the past, it was far too AI dependent and there is never a 100% guarantee that your teammates will clear a hole you can run through. But with the new lead blocking feature, you can control the lead blocker and then the AI will take over control of the back and run through. You can then switch back to the runner.
The other new feature is the NFL Network mode, which many football thanks were thrilled to finally have as it enabled them to learn more about their favorite teams and rivals.
6. Madden NFL 2006
Following the ‘04 game that introduced other gaming elements such as ticket prices and stadium locations, the 2006 edition makes it to our list of the top 10 Madden games by letting players create an athlete from scratch.
We like how players can basically create the life of a character even to the point where we can choose his parents to arrive at the best combination of skills possible. It may not be totally football related, but it’s still a cool addition to the game.
If you’re into player customization, then this one may just be enough to settle once and for all the question of what is the best Madden game.
7. Madden NFL 2003
If you love a good game with a great soundtrack, then you will appreciate this 2002 release. Madden NFL 2003 introduces the EA Trax, the in-game soundtrack that features alternative rock music from acts like Good Charlotte, Bon Jovi, and Seether.
We also love that this edition features the Mini Camp mode, which is a series of mini-games which allow you to improve a player’s skills.
8. Madden NFL 13
Looking for a football game that is a bit more “now”? Lucky for you, the Madden franchise digs deeper into the modern world by featuring new elements to the beloved game with the release of Madden NFL 13.
Madden NFL 13 offers voice activation features with XBox Kinect. It is also the first Madden game to include an in-game Twitter feed. In a world where almost everyone has a social media account, this is a refreshing bonus to the usual football gaming experience.
It also has a refined animation system, although there isn’t much improvement on the gameplay.
9. Madden NFL 25
Our number nine pick for the top 10 Madden games was released in 2013 so you may be wondering, why not call it Madden NFL 14, just like how previous versions were named? The number “25” was actually used on the title to signify the 25th anniversary of the Madden NFL franchise.
Madden NFL 25 improved on its predecessors by having better graphics and more realistic player movements. It also allows players to bring back historic teams such as the Columbus Panhandles and London Monarchs.
10. Madden NFL 15
Rounding up our selections for choosing the best Madden game of all time is the Madden NFL 15, which offers major improvements to the series’ previous releases. Here, you get better graphics, better game-play, and better updates.
This edition also includes new defense features that enhance the overall gaming experience.
The Madden franchise has been and will continue to be one of the forefronts when it comes to awesome football video game experience. What do you think of our list of the top 10 best Madden games of all time? Were your favorites mentioned? Are there other editions, perhaps more recent releases, that you think should have made the list?
The latest Madden franchise available today is Madden NFL 19, which was initially released by EA Sports on August 10 this year.