Joystiq goes to Maddenpalooza

Kevin Kelly
K. Kelly|08.12.08

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Joystiq goes to Maddenpalooza

The Rose Bowl was Madden-ified yesterday to make way for the 20th anniversary of Madden games, as well as the new Madden NFL 09 game that went on sale at midnight last night... or 9 PM Pacific if you were lucky enough to be in the stadium in Pasadena. The upper deck was wrapped in gigantic Madden sail cloths promoting the game and featuring poster boy Brett Favre in his Packers gear. The playing turf featured autograph sessions with NFL legends, skill games, free Pepsi schwag (which we forgot to photograph, whoops), a Slurpee booth complete with Hooters-esque booth babes, a mini Wal-Mart store, and a giant gaming tent full of tons of Xbox 360s, and a scant few Wiis, PS3s, and PSPs.

Read on, dear gamer, to discover the rest, including a confab between rapper Busta Rhymes and EA's Peter Moore. Plus you can click on the gallery below for loads of photos.
While there was a ton of gaming going on inside the massive tent of consoles that contained hundreds of units all tuned to the new Madden, one of the highlights of the event had to be those photos of Busta with Peter Moore. Seriously. If there's a secret Busta Rhymes unlockable player inside Madden 09, we called it here first. The main reason Busta wanted to meet Moore? He wanted some free stuff. No kidding. Anyhow, yes. Buttloads of 360s, a couple dozen Wiis, and a very small section of PS3s that went largely ignored. And those PSPs? Untouched.

EA must have dropped a lot of dough on this event, although we're sure the sponsors probably helped out a ton. By the time we were heading out, more and more people were starting to line up, since it was post-quittin' time, and the event was scheduled to last until 10 PM. This was one of the few West Coast launches we'd been to where they let people purchase the game as of midnight on the East Coast. No complaints from the people who were lining up to buy their game vouchers.

Speaking of lining up, the mini Wal-Mart store on the field had a lot of NFL schwag for purchase, ranging from game balls to jerseys, and they also had a huge shelf full of Xbox 360s. Would you head out to a gaming event in a stadium to impulsively pick up a new console? Probably not, and we didn't see anyone lugging one around either. They should have stocked up on some Favre Jets jerserys. Those would have pulled in some serious dough.

Most of the time people tended to shuttle between the gaming tent and the stage, where bands like From First to Last and Good Charlotte rocked the sometimes meager audience in front of the stage. Some former NFL players were on hand, like Ron Woodson and Warren Sapp, and they had incredibly long lines of people waiting on their signatures. Staff members were handing out wristbands and cutting those off early, much to the chagrin of sports fans.

We tried to head up into the stands to score some shots of the field and the entire stadium, which was impressively dressed up for the event, but we were denied by stadium security. Several times. We were told that it was "too dangerous" to head up into the same stands where thousands of screaming USC fans had to watch their team get beaten in the final seconds of the 2006 Rose Bowl. We guess those stairs can be treacherous or something.

Still, if you want to see some good shots from up top, check out Major Nelson's flickrfeed. He got the good stuff. We did spend a lot of time playing the game, mostly to avoid some of the ear bleeding intensity of bands we hadn't heard of (okay, Good Charlotte ain't bad [Umm, yes they are - Ed]). It definitely looks a lot better than the last Madden, and we'll be picking up a copy eventually. However, if the online play sucks again, we're going to Busta Moore than a cap in someone's rear end. And win the bad pun of the year award while we're at it.

The only thing that could top the Busta/Moore lovefest was the fact that Midway had driven two enormous rolling billboards for Blitz: The League II down to the Rose Bowl. Priceless.
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