Madden Football fans on the go--especially ones who used to enjoy playing the now-classic 16-bit Madden games on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo--don't have to look any further for a solid game of football. Madden NFL 2003 delivers a tried-and-true game of football that will be instantly familiar to longtime fans of the series.
The game includes all 32 NFL teams and multiple modes of play, including exhibition and a surprisingly in-depth season mode. You trade players with the other teams in the NFL and even use the game's create-a-player mode to make your own.
On the field, the game plays just like the original 16-bit Madden games, which were, obviously, a little more simplistic than the Madden series is today, but it isn't without its bells and whistles. The game uses icon passing so that you can hit your receivers by just pushing the corresponding button that appears over the receiver's head. Just like in all the classic football games, the passing in the game works effectively--sometimes a little too effectively. It's easy to get big gains in the air. Running is, comparatively, a lot tougher. More often than not, the line simply comes together, leaving you no holes for runs and forcing you to go to the outside. Holes in the line do open up if you call your plays right, though, and this will allow you to occasionally break out for a few yards. The game includes more than 150 offensive and defensive plays. The play selection screen is very similar to what you've seen in any other football game, and it lets you pick plays very quickly and easily.
Visually, Madden 2003 is a good-looking Game Boy Advance game. The players don't have a great deal of detail or animation, but you can make them put their arms up in the air and make vicious diving tackles. The camera offers a slightly tilted top-down view, which gives you a good view of the field. The game's menu selection and play selection screens are all very well done and even show you the routes your receivers will travel.
In the audio department, Madden 2003 includes a few John Madden and Al Michaels voice samples, including Madden's patented "Boom!" The sound effects are decent, but the grunts are a little too compressed, and the crowd sounds more like static. In the end, though, the sound more than gets the point across. It even contains a digitized version of Andrew WK's song Party Hard.
In the end, Madden 2003 for the Game Boy Advance is a classic game of football that most football fans can enjoy. The controls and overall presentation, while lifted from the Madden games of the past, are up to the current GBA standards and do a nice job of delivering NFL fun on the go.