Updated roster and new play mode notwithstanding, the Game Boy Advance version of Madden NFL 06 is roughly identical to Madden NFL 2005. The controls, interfaces, artificial intelligence, graphics, audio, and pretty much everything else in this latest game are mostly unchanged from the previous one. That's not a complete negative, since last year's game delivered some great football, but you may be disappointed if you were hoping to see significant upgrades to this year's model.
Iconic passing assigns each receiver to a button.
Exient Entertainment, the game's developer, made numerous improvements when it took over development from Budcat Creations last year. The folks at Exient made the AI smarter, put in adjustable difficulty sliders, made the field easier to see by pulling back the camera viewpoint, and made the playbook easier to understand by including diagrams of the receivers' actual routes. Madden NFL 06 also incorporates all those improvements but doesn't bring any fixes or enhancements of its own to the table. In fact, the development team didn't even implement the heavily hyped quarterback-vision-passing feature that was newly added to the console versions of Madden NFL 06. It did add a new play mode, however, called minicamp. Minicamp mode is a set of four minigames involving field goals, passing, running, and tackling, and it can be played with as many as six participants by passing around a single GBA.
Although it may be disappointing to some that the GBA version of Madden NFL 06 doesn't play the same as its console counterparts, there's no denying that it's a solid, well-rounded football game in its own right. Beginners can dive right in and start picking and running plays just by making use of the D pad and the A button. Seasoned players, meanwhile, can take advantage of expert controls that let players reverse plays, call audibles, and spin and dive all over the field. The playbook contains more than 400 different offensive and defensive plays. After picking a play, you can initiate the snap by tapping the A button, or you can change the play on the fly (known as an "audible") by tapping the B button. After the snap, the iconic passing system lets you toss the ball from the quarterback to one of three preset receivers using the GBA's button array. On offense, the GBA's button layout lets you tell your receivers and running backs to sprint, dive, spin, or juke. On defense, you can make your linemen sprint, jump, or leap. Whether an interception or a tackle occurs depends on where the receiver is with respect to the ball and the defender. The CPU seems to play an intelligent game. In particular, it's good about passing to the most open receiver on offense and deflecting long-range passes on defense.