I honestly intended to write a deep, well-researched article on the history of the Madden NFL series. After all, I am a hardcore gamer and the hardcorest of gamers adore Electronic Arts and consider the annual releases of their various sports franchises to be the highlights of the gaming calendar. Duh.
After a decade of serious retro game collecting, I’ve somehow accrued just about every entry in the series to date. I decided to start around the middle; something not old enough to feel primitive but not new enough to be too familiar.
I rummaged through a stack of loose PS2 discs and decided that Madden NFL 2003 would be a good place to start.
My mission to pen the ultimate retrospective on the Madden series was quickly derailed, however, as the main menu loaded up and “Party Hard” by Andrew WK began to blare through my television speakers.
There is perhaps no musician more important to who I am as a person than Andrew WK. It isn’t because his music is particularly profound — because it definitely isn’t. There’s nary a bit of room for philosophical musing or intricate musicianship between the roughly seven hundred layers of way-too-distorted guitars and immeasurable amounts of silliness.
Yet his debut record, I Get Wet, helped me figure out who I am as a person. It spoke to me in ways the most thoughtful, poetic, and progressive music never could. It helped me embrace the charismatic absurdity hidden inside of me and has been a defining trait of my personality ever since.
So hearing “Party Hard” brought me back to when I was sixteen years old and watched Andrew WK headbang his skull to mush in a wheelchair and absolutely not give a fuck about what anyone thought about it at the inaugural Spike Video Game Awards in 2003.
I was sure it was the coolest thing anyone ever did, and it inspired me to begin to pick up a guitar and begin making my own music. I scarcely played another video game for about six years as I slowly crafted my own unique sonic stylings.
So there I was, my brain flooded with memories of better years gone by and some seriously epic parties that my CD copy of I Get Wet provided the soundtrack for. I let the song finish, shut off the PS2, grabbed my whiskey out of the fridge (Windsor Black Cherry, because I have very little dignity and even less money), and poured myself a drink.
Three hours later, I was positively drunk and watching awful 1980s heavy metal music videos on YouTube. I had Madden NFL 2003 to blame for that.
I realize that you almost certainly didn’t come to Retrovolve to read about which rock and roll musicians, like, really spoke to my soul, man. So in order to carry out my responsibility to provide some sort of retro video game analysis, contrived or otherwise, I declare EA Sports’ 2003 edition of Madden to be to be the greatest to date.
And yes, that merit was earned entirely as a result of my unwavering love for heavy metal and shitty booze.