John Madden Football

From Sega Retro


JohnMaddenFootball title.png
John Madden Football
System(s): Sega Mega Drive
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Sports

Number of players: 1-2
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive
$49.95[1][2] 700001
Sega Mega Drive
£39.99[4] E036SMXI
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
Sega Mega Drive
?Ptas E036SMXI
Sega Mega Drive
R$? ?

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John Madden Football, known as John Madden American Football in Europe, is an American football game developed by Park Place Productions and published by Electronic Arts. It is the second in the long line of Madden titles, which have been released annually since the creation of this game. The previous game, also called John Madden Football, was released in 1988 and is largely unrelated to this one, aside from the similar themes; that game received a sequel of its own after this one, in 1991 (John Madden Football II)

John Madden Football for the Mega Drive can be seen as "Madden '91", being followed by John Madden Football '92, '93, '94 and so on. Every game has been named after John Madden, American football player, coach and commentator.



Having seen success and rapid growth in supporting the home computer market, Electronic Arts chose in 1989 to make the move into video games, and more specifically, the Sega Mega Drive. However EA were not keen on paying royalties to Sega (roughly $8-$10 USD per cartridge), and so invested time and money in reverse engineering the console in an attempt to circumvent these policies.

However, unlike Nintendo's efforts with the NES, bypassing the security system of a Mega Drive required the use of the word "SEGA", the thinking being that unauthorised use of this trademark would give grounds for Sega to sue companies which attempted to reverse engineer its console (something that was famously challenged when Accolade attempted a similar feat). To avoid this, EA made a proposal to Sega that the fee be reduced to $2, with the overall fee not exceeding $2 million USD. Sega agreed due to fears EA would sell the information to other companies, and the process would reportedly save EA $35 million in the next three years.

While EA released several computer-to-Mega Drive conversions during 1990, this new John Madden Football was seen as its first major contribution to the video game market. However, Sega were also keen to exploit the 1990 holiday season (and newly acquired license with NFL quarterback Joe Montana) with an American football game, using Activision's Hard Yardage as a base. The project however was struggling and was set to miss its deadline, so Sega approached EA to sell John Madden Football as Joe Montana Football.

EA refused, but gave Sega a watered down engine for Joe Montana Football (which still proved successful).


John Madden Football was an enormous success for EA, and is seen as an industry game changer - one of the first steps to take back market share from Nintendo in North America.

Elsewhere in the world, John Madden Football and its sequels have been less successful as the sport does not tend to resonate outside of the US, however EA has applied the annual release system to other sports titles, namely NHL, FIFA, PGA Tour Golf and NBA Live.

Production credits

  • Designed by: John Madden, Scott Orr, and Richard Hilleman
  • Developed by: Park Place Production Team
  • Programmed by: Jim Simmons, team member
  • Graphics Design by: Steve Quinn, team member; Brian O'Hara, team member; Art Aliva, team member; Cynthia Hamilton, Paul Vernon
  • Music and Sound by: Rob Hubbard
  • Production Assistance by: Troy Lyndon, team member; Michael Knox, team member
  • Produced by: Richard Hilleman
  • Associate Production by: Michael Brook
  • Assistant Production by: Ed Gwynn
  • Thanks to: Sandy Montag and the Maddens
Source: In-game credits

Magazine articles

Main article: John Madden Football/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Print advert in GamePro (US) #18: "January 1991" (199x-xx-xx)
also published in:


Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
90 [8]
97 [9]
95 [10]
95 [11]
92 [12]
86 [13]
87 [14]
75 №5, p92
95 [15]
93 [16]
96 [17]
91 [18]
81 [19]
94 [20]
92 [21]
100 [22]
90 [23]
84 №18, p66
83 [24]
95 №16, p90/91
Sega Mega Drive
Based on
20 reviews

Mega Drive, US
JohnMaddenFootball MD US Box Back.jpgJohnMaddenFootball MD US Box Spine.jpgJohnMaddenFootball MD US Box.jpgJohnMaddenFootball MD US Box Spine2.jpg
JohnMaddenFootball MD US Cart.jpg
Mega Drive, EU
JohnMaddenFootball MD EU Box.jpg
JohnMaddenFootball MD US Cart.jpg
Mega Drive, BR
JohnMaddenFootball MD BR Box.jpg
JohnMaddenFootball MD BR Cart.jpg

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 90fb8818
MD5 6c2b1deff4ad246d5ac0962591e1f974
SHA-1 10682f1763711b281542fcd5e192e1633809dc75
512kB 1990-07 Cartridge (US/EU)
Sega Mega Drive
1990-11-07 Page


Electronic Arts sports games for Sega systems
American Football
John Madden Football (1990) | John Madden Football '92 (1991) | John Madden Football '93 (1992) | John Madden Football: Championship Edition (1992) | Mutant League Football (1993) | Madden NFL '94 (1993) | Bill Walsh College Football (1993) | Bill Walsh College Football '95 (1994) | Madden NFL '95 (1994) | Madden NFL 96 (1995) | College Football USA 96 (1995) | Madden NFL 97 (1996) | College Football USA 97 (1996) | Madden NFL 98 (1997)
Tony La Russa Baseball (1993) | MLBPA Baseball (1994) | La Russa Baseball 95 (1994) | Triple Play 96 (1995) | Triple Play: Gold Edition (1996)
Lakers versus Celtics and the NBA Playoffs (1990) | Bulls vs Lakers and the NBA Playoffs (1991) | Jordan vs Bird (1992) | Team USA Basketball (1992) | Bulls versus Blazers and the NBA Playoffs (1993) | NBA Showdown '94 (1994) | NBA Live 95 (1994) | NBA Live 96 (1995) | Coach K College Basketball (1995) | NBA Live 97 (Mega Drive) (1996) | NBA Live 97 (Saturn) (1996) | NBA Live 98 (Mega Drive) (1997) | NBA Live 98 (Saturn) (1997)
Zany Golf (1990) | PGA Tour Golf (1990) | PGA Tour Golf II (1992) | PGA Tour Golf III (1994) | PGA European Tour (1994) | PGA Tour 96 (1995) | PGA Tour 97 (1996)
Ice Hockey
NHL Hockey (Mega Drive) (1991) | NHLPA Hockey '93 (1992) | NHL Hockey '94 (1993) | Elitserien 95 (1994) | Mutant League Hockey (1994) | NHL 95 (1994) | Elitserien 96 (1995) | NHL 96 (1995) | NHL Hockey (Game Gear) (1995) | NHL 97 (Mega Drive) (1996) | NHL 97 (Saturn) (1996) | NHL 98 (Mega Drive) (1997) | NHL 98 (Saturn) (1997)
Mario Andretti Racing (1994) | Andretti Racing (1996) | NASCAR 98 (1997)
Rugby World Cup 1995 (1994) | Australian Rugby League (1995)
FIFA International Soccer (8-bit) (1993) | FIFA International Soccer: Championship Edition (1994) | FIFA Soccer 95 (1994) | FIFA Soccer 96 (32X | Saturn) (1995) | FIFA Soccer 97 (Gold Edition) (1996) | FIFA Road to World Cup 98 (Mega Drive) (1997) | FIFA Road to World Cup 98 (Saturn) (1997)
EA Sports Double Header (1992) | IMG International Tour Tennis (1994) | Toughman Contest (1994)