Feature Article
Madden Superstar Mode an Exercise in Awful

Perhaps I’m both a sadist and a masochist. Is there really any other explanation?

Every year, I devote just a little bit of time to Madden’s Superstar mode. Not because I really think that I will enjoy it. No sir. I do it simply, because it is so brutal. But why, you ask, do I immerse myself in this agony, even for a moment? I have a two-part answer.

For one, it’s a perverse attraction to the painful. I somehow enjoy, if only for a brief few minutes, experiencing this mind-numbing train-wreck. It’s like watching a couple have a bitter break-up in public. You know it’s bad, but you just can’t help but listen to it. And in the end, you feel ashamed that you reveled in the travesty.

By that same token, I also enjoy spending a split second in Superstar mode to inflict pain on EA Sports. That’s right. I heartily enjoy hurling verbal barbs at Madden’s developers for continuing to package in this stinker with their flagship franchise, despite the fact that it appeals to absolutely no one. It’s boring enough to agitate the hardcore football fan, yet complicated enough to alienate the casual newcomer. So why, oh why, does it take up precious space and development time that could go to improving the core aspects? Your guess is as good as mine. 

I somehow enjoy, if only for a brief few minutes, experiencing this mind-numbing train-wreck.

To expose just how bad this mode is, let me give you a concise recap of my experience.

-At the onset, I am given the choice to pick an existing rookie, or to create my own potential hall of famer. Since I am a sucker for realism, I pick an existing rookie. Because I am a huge homer, I pick Illinois alum Rashard Mendenhall.

-The first training camp is a never-ending cycle of running the same play, which wouldn’t be bad if it were a running play, or even a passing play in which I could run an actual route. Instead, it is a passing play where I am assigned to block. With no discernible way to change the play, I felt like Phil Connors in Groundhog Day. After the 30th repetition, I seriously considered hopping in the bathtub with a toaster.

-After running the same play for an eternity, where within I never actually touched the ball (and yet somehow every play affects my “Player Influence,”), I have finally had enough. I quit training camp, vowing to sim any and all practices. I think I would have had just as much fun running head-first into my television for 20 minutes, concussions and brain damage included.

The only thing worse than playing a football game mode with a limited role, and on a limited number of plays, is doing so for only a single half.

-Game time. I take the field in my first preseason contest. The action is almost as dull as practice, although I do get to run the ball on occasion, and get to catch a pass or two. From the “Influence Points” I have accumulated in my simulated practices, I am able to modify my toughness and stamina attributes ever so slightly. This has no measurable affect on the gameplay. How terribly exiting.

-Enough with preseason. The only thing worse than playing a football game mode with a limited role, and on a limited number of plays, is doing so for only a single half. Time to start the season.

-Just prior to taking the field in Week 1 against the Texans, I figure it might be worthwhile to check out the main interface of Superstar mode. After reading some vanilla e-mails from fictitious family members, hiring the most evil agent possible, and pimping out my equipment, I figure that I have seen quite enough of this hodge-podge of crappiness. I suppose I should play the regular season and get this disaster over with before I realize how much time I'm wasting.

-After a few snaps, I realize that the only upside to playing this mode as a RB is the ability to hone my skills in the new running system. I am certain the same could be said for playing the mode as any other position. Still, I’d rather hone my skills in games, or even in practice mode, where I have some semblance of overall control.

-When I’m halfway through the second game, I begin to wonder why I’m doing this, and not starting my Bears franchise. Then I remember that I’m supposed to write about it. Damn it, my life is difficult.

-After a whopping three season games, I decide it’s time to sim once again. I might as well see what the offseason has to offer.

-I do get the chance to have some interviews within the season sim, which are made up of some snazzy questions with multiple choice answers. I decide to answer in the most conceited and self-absorbed way possible, throwing coaches and teammates alike cleanly under the bus, all while touting my own greatness. It’s fun to play the heel. Too bad this isn’t a wrestling game.


Superstar mode is about like the Dolphins alternate unis..no redeeming qualities whatsover.

-During the offseason months, I have the opportunity to increase my skills by partaking in the traditional mini-games. How stimulating. Pass.

-A whole bunch of simmed mini-games and sarcastic interviews later, it is time to start the whole drudgery all over again, starting with training camp. I power down my console. Might as well give it a few hours of R&R while I eat and prepare for my franchise.

A whole heap of negativity, I know. Hopefully I haven’t forced you head-long into a state of depression. I was on the brink by the end, and I barely played for two hours.

Of course I am being over-dramatic for the sake of your entertainment, but there is a bigger point to be made. Typically, I try to highlight both the good and the bad when looking at a game, or even a specific mode of a game, but I can find no real positive in Superstar mode. Any minuscule enjoyment is completely peripheral to the mode itself. As a whole, it is simply not fun.

This again raises my perpetual question: why is it even included? True, it does not ruin the game overall, but it is a meaningless mode. I do hate to continuously point the finger at this faux pas, but until this mode is either completely rebuilt, or scrapped altogether, I will continue my eternal tub-thumping.

Who’s with me?

Madden NFL 09 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 kblu54 @ 08/19/08 12:23 PM
Absolutely right... Complete waste of hard drive space
# 2 DocHolliday @ 08/19/08 12:28 PM
I havent tried it yet because I heard its gonna e awful and they didnt work on it.

Its a shame because its a great idea that would be awesome if executed properly.
# 3 rellix1 @ 08/19/08 12:45 PM
They didn't change it one bit between 07, 08 and 09.

It's terribly boring, and only bearable if you somehow create a stellar athlete from the get go - that way you are having amazing games. The only position I've found tolerable are RB and (sometimes) QB, but even that's a pain.
# 4 rellix1 @ 08/19/08 12:45 PM
Forgot to mention: if you do create a stellar athlete, which again is the only way to enjoy your play - well, you're going to be in the hall of fame within 2 years because your player is so good.

mmm realism.
# 5 JBH3 @ 08/19/08 01:22 PM
I'm with you...!

Superstar is a freaking joke. It's the most mundane experience. Your right I would rather run face first into a brick wall...At least I would get a cool "numbing" feeling.
# 6 walliworld @ 08/19/08 01:34 PM
I totally agree, they could spend time on Presentation and better gameplay. It's a great idea, but it needs so much work which they obviously don't care about.

I think they put alot of Quantity and not Quality into their games.
# 7 Heshi @ 08/19/08 02:12 PM
The idea is great and I'd really like a good game of First Person Football... MLB's RTTS mode is boring as well and I play it over and over... even gave NCAA's Campus Legend a shot. I do agree that Madden's not doing it right.

Who remembers the great "Libero Grande"?
# 8 thejake @ 08/19/08 02:19 PM
I had a lot of fun in ncaa campus legend this year as a RB. I can't get into madden's though. I never have been able to get a decent 40 time either on that stupid mini game so my 99 rated overall player from ncaa got drafted in the 3rd round.
# 9 adembroski @ 08/19/08 02:27 PM
Can't argue with you. I think it has potential as an idea, and one must give credit to Madden for the idea, but like so many other modes, it was created then left to collect dust. It needs a serious overhaul if it's ever to be worth it's disk space.
# 10 DubTrey1 @ 08/19/08 02:55 PM
Had potential, now - it's just another "feature" to stamp on the back of the box. Trash it a like you did the Madden Cards EA and focus on the field and gameplay.
# 11 BSanders @ 08/19/08 03:04 PM
They need to improve on the mode but I enjoy Campus Legend and love playing RTTS, I think it comes down to what you want.... Franchise mode gives you the option to run everything if don't enjoy sitting out plays or controlling one player. I do agree with some points you made and in my opinion Superstar mode needs to be more like NCAA or RTTS..
# 12 mmceld1 @ 08/19/08 03:11 PM
I found out you can change the play in practice mode by pressing timeout before the snap. It still doesnt help its case though
# 13 asu666 @ 08/19/08 03:43 PM
Tiburon needs to go back and study NFL 2K5 and the Owner Mode in MLB 08: The Show. Mix those two things together and most people will finally stop complaining about how Madden is almost a total waste of the NFL and ESPN licenses.
# 14 LingeringRegime @ 08/19/08 05:13 PM
Yeah, they should scrap this feature and really blow up the presentation. Full blown pre-game, halftime, post game analysis. Plus a weekly Sportscenter, or NFL Network type of show. Just copy 2K, EA, and you will make us happy.
# 15 briax87 @ 08/19/08 06:49 PM
I haven't played the 09 version of superstar mode yet, but all of what you said is true for last years version too. Nothing beats making the hall of fame in your second year as a pro...
# 16 thescoop @ 08/19/08 08:40 PM
Superstar Mode needs to go.....I'm with you. It is sad that year in and year out people say this and for three years running EA keeps putting this in. I'd rather see classic teams, better presentation, more ESPN interface (I mean why did you get a contract with them since you NEVER use ESPN in your games??????), a weekly recap show, all these things would be better in the game than this waste of space that is Superstar mode.

Great article. Too bad it will fall on deaf ears at EA.
# 17 ChubbyBanana @ 08/19/08 08:49 PM

I can't stand this game mode, and honestly haven't stepped foot into it since 07.

If they haven't changed it, why waste my time.
# 18 Tengo Juego @ 08/19/08 09:03 PM
I'm with you...

And really made my day. Very entertaining read lol.
# 19 teebee @ 08/20/08 12:56 AM
I must say i'm enjoying the ncaa version of campus legend, is that anything like this?
# 20 Shadymamba @ 08/20/08 11:29 AM
They should of made it like '06....the reason to me '07,'08,'09 stinks is that damn camera angle...there is no freakin way you can control a DB let alone cover a TE as a linebacker with the camera angle the way it is...go back to '06 when the same angle you play a regular game is the way you play franchise..i had so much fun that year even got a big contract deal and played 4 seasons but they changed it to be more real..and totally messed it up...i havent even started on the damn training camp..40yd dash and stuff but im with you bro..it does stink.

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