Madden 99 is a vast improvement over last year's lackluster Madden 64. It really beats it and just about any other realistic N64 football title in every way. With hi-res graphics, smooth control, and great AI, this should have been the game to introduce N64 owners to Madden.
How is it better than last year's Madden? Well, for starters, this year's carries the NFL license, so now it has all of the real NFL teams, players, and logos. Plus, Madden 99 has loads of options and features that you can alter to your liking. For example, beginners can play in one-button mode, which allows you to play the game with, you guessed it, only one button. OK, say you're running with the ball, and a defender is about to tackle you. When you push the almighty button, the computer automatically decides which of the moves would be most helpful for you. This allows beginners to get a feel for the game without getting confused. You can also choose how you would like to pass the ball. There is a directional setting that lets you simply push the analog stick in the direction of the receiver you would like to throw the ball to, similar to the style of passing that's featured in NFL Blitz. Madden 99 still has the typical icon passing as well. The graphics are ten times better than last year. The new hi-res graphics look extremely sharp. The other reason the game looks so good is the new motion capture animations that give the players on the field lifelike movement and actions. For instance, the receivers and cornerbacks turn their heads to look at the incoming passes. Defenders will sometimes wrap their arms around the ball carrier when tackling. There are tons of different tackling animations. The only problem animation-wise is that there is none when the play stops. The players get up and kind of stand around for a second and then gather in the huddle. This one second of inactivity after the play unnecessarily ruins the otherwise flawless suspension of disbelief that the animations of the players give. The only other visual problems that Madden 99 suffers from are its frame rate and speed. Both are a bit on the slow side especially when compared with something like GameDay 99. But with the hi-res graphics and loads of smooth animations it's the most beautiful football game to date.Unfortunately, Madden 99 doesn't deliver the same quality in the audio department. Pat Summerall lends his play-by-play talents to the game alongside John Madden himself, who once again delivers his oft-imitated style of announcing. The only real problem with the audio is the lack of audio. It's got the usual sound effects and music, and those are on par with any other football game, but the lack of play-by-play calls is weak. In fact, the voice-overs from Summerall and Madden are so few and far between that you sometimes forget that they exist. As all football game fans know, the graphics and audio don't make a football game great. It's all about the control and AI. The control in Madden 99 is really good, although it takes some time to get adjusted to to the precise analog control. Once you do make the adjustment you'll never want to play a football game with a digital pad again. The computer AI is well balanced. If you play the game on easy it will let you get away with a lot of plays over and over again. But the moment you bump the difficulty up to pro, all of those money plays you were running are gone.
Overall, Madden 99 is the best realistic football game on the N64. The control is great, the AI is great, and of course, the graphics are well done. The game gives you everything you could ever want on the features side, plus the ability to change them. And with the addition of franchise mode, which allows you to play season after season, football gamers can and will play Madden 99 for a long, long time.