EA Canada is looking to bring something new to the home console football experience. Here's everything we know about the Wii version so far.
Last updated: 08/02/2006 by Steven Rodriguez
Madden NFL 07 for Wii is going to be a lot different from any football game that has come before it. Instead of pressing buttons on a standard controller to perform on-field actions, Wii players must instead use the Wii remote controller and mimic actual motions that are done during a real football game. Because of this, how the game plays is what's going to make or break the Wii version of Madden.
The passing game revolves around the action of “throwing” the Wii remote like a football. The A button and the four D-Pad directions each represent a different receiver. After snapping the ball from scrimmage by quickly flicking the controller upward, players need to tap the corresponding button of a teammate and flick the remote forward to hurl him the ball. (If the QB's primary receiver is open, flicking the remote is all that's necessary; they are preselected when the ball is snapped.) The strength of the forward motion determines the throwing speed of the ball, so it's possible to take some zip off a pass if it's better to lob a ball over a defender's head.
Kickoffs, punts and place kicks use the Wii remote in a clever way. Pre-snap, a traditional direction and kick angle gauge is displayed at the kicker's feet, aimed with the analog stick on the nunchaku. After snapping the ball with the A button, instead of determining kick power with a timing meter, the kicking player must swing the remote part of the controller upwards. A fast upwards motion will equate to a hard kick, but a slower motion could be used if a punting player wants to pin the opponent deep in their own territory. There's a twist to the kicking mechanic, and quite literally at that; if the remote is not held level as it is thrust skyward, it will introduce slice to the ball. The more crooked the controller, the more severe the shank. Just like it's difficult for a kicker to keep it straight on long field goal tries, it gets tougher to keep the remote on a level plane when a stronger upswing is used.
The running game uses the analog stick attachment for movement, which is what you'd expect. The two buttons on the stick half of the controller allow the ball carrier to sprint and cover the ball up, while the A and B buttons on the remote allow for spin and dives respectively. The motion sensing parts of the Wii controller are what allow the runner to do more advanced moves. Juking is triggered by twisting the nunchaku in the desired direction of the direction change. Stiff-arms can be initiated by flicking the remote to the left or right, making it possible to pick which side to stick out that arm. If a touchdown is in sight and there are no defenders around, it's possible to showoff to the crowd (and your opponent) by shaking the remote, causing the player high step into the end zone.
Football is more than just offense, though. The defensive side of the ball has some of those neat Wii features, too. Before the snap, selecting a defender is as simple as pointing at him with an on-screen cursor and pressing the A button to gain control over him. If the defense is at their home stadium, waving the entire controller in the air will raise the arms of the defense and pump up the crowd, creating noise to throw off the offense. (A QB at home can quiet the crowd in the same manner.) Once the play starts, a big hit stick tackle can end it by thrusting both halves of the controller forward. If a pass is headed toward a receiver, the A button will get player control over to the defender nearest the ball, where an interception or ball deflection can be attempted by waving parts of the controller over one's head, mimicking a jumping or swatting motion.
Taking a page from the DS version of Madden, the Wii game uses the point-and-shoot style cursor (like that to select a defender pre-snap) for play selection, audible calling and defensive shifts. Calling an on-field audible will bring up a list of plays to choose from, complete with the Xs and Os used to layout regular plays in the playbook. If a called defensive play is the right one, but the line up is on the wrong side of the field, it's possible to point at a group of players, like the defensive line, and order them to shift toward the other side with one button press.
A member of the EA Canada development team showing off the E3 demo explained to me that one of the goals with the Wii version of Madden was to appeal to the football fan that doesn't usually buy football games, or gets them rarely. Whether or not they can succeed at that mission will be determined on how well the final product is put together. The game doesn't have an exact release date set at the moment, but one can assume that Madden NFL 07 will be available for the Wii at the system's launch later this year.