Breaking Madden: The 1,500 Point Super Bowl

I promised I’d explain the origin of the Football Fetus. It’s from the Breaking Madden Season 1 Super Bowl, which is still one of the funniest bits of game writing in memory. Jon Bois does good work.

Half Denver Bronco, half Seattle Seahawk, all madness. It was spontaneously generated by Madden 2013 when Jon Bois set up an experiment to engineer the biggest drubbing that the software could generate. The Broncos fought the Seahawks for the Super Bowl that year, so he set up a match between them, and decided randomly which team would be the Gods, and which would be the Worms. The Gods, the Seahawks, would all have maximum stats in every category. The Worms, the Broncos, would all have the minimum stats.

Image from SBNation

In particular, all the Broncos had the minimum stat in Awareness, which affects their AI, and which seems intended by the developers to create improvised video game comedy. A low Awareness saps a player of the ability to function on any competent level, for any football-related purpose. A low Awareness produces people who willingly walk into tackles. A low Awareness stat produces men who can only say huh.

Further, durability stats were all minimized for the Broncos, so they kept getting injured, but they ran out of replacement players they could field, so they kept on playing, getting more and more hurt. Infinitely hurt. People don’t die in Madden. It would have been a kindness if they could. Oh also, all the penalties were turned off.

Just to make the obliteration complete, Jon took control of the Seahawks. He began to rack up points. Before the first quarter was over, he discovered that Madden 2013, a game for the Xbox 360, still tracked scores with a single byte. The Seahawks’ score froze at 255, although some places listed it as 256. I suppose we should be thankful it had bounds checking, and didn’t wrap back around to zero.

So Jon took a cursory count of score himself. Somewhere around 1,500 points, the game called a penalty even though they had been disabled. Viewing the footage on the play presented, not video, but a single frame, locked in time, of the Football Fetus, resting in the center of the field. A creature of chaos. A mandala of nonsense. Procedural generation at its finest.

While entertaining, still, things like this shouldn’t happen. Jon Bois is generally careful not to tear too hard into EA’s programmers, and truthfully I don’t want to either, they only have jobs to do. But EA Sports is the only source for sports games for multiple fields. If you want to play with pro players, if it’s the NFL, you can only get it from EA Sports, and it’s been that way since 2005. It’s a monopoly, and it’s inevitable that craftsmanship would decline. 2K Sports, these days, is the same with the NBA.

How sports games have been ruined by monopolies is a story for another time. There’s an article from a student newspaper from 2021, by Blake Malick, decrying their sorry state. Presumably I’ll weigh in in more detail myself someday, but that would require caring about sports games, which is something I am not prepared at this time to do. I will leave that to Jon Bois and the other inhabitants of the Fumble Dimension.

Anyway, still, bad craftsmanship in a game can be hilarious, and so it is in Breaking Madden. Please, enjoy. And here’s the rest of Breaking Madden, which includes the saga of Clarence BEEFTANK. Ah, BEEFTANK. We should look back on his storied career at a later time too.

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