Sunday, December 13, 2009

John Madden Will Help You Beat Wizard of Wor!

John Madden's association with the videogame industry began long before Electronic Arts published the first Madden Football game in 1989.  Here he is in 1982, as the "sportscaster" for CBS Video Games, offering strategy tips for the Atari 2600 editions of Midway's arcade hits, Gorf and Wizard of Wor:

The headline is actually misleading, as the copy indicates that Madden got to "watch some of the best players in the country."  And clearly states, "Here are some of their winning strategies" (emphases mine.)  And the "strategies" aren't really strategies, anyway -- they're summaries of the gameplay, with a few trivial notes that will be obvious to anyone who's actually spent any time with these games.

So we may never know how John Madden really viewed Wizard of Wor and Gorf, or if he ever even played them himself.  And the Intellivision versions promised at the end of this ad never came out, no matter how hard players looked for them, or how soon, which means Mr. Madden's fact-checking may have left something to be desired, presumably in his rush to cash the check before CBS Video Games went under.  That in itself may have been a fine strategic decision.

But whatever was going on here, thanks to two decades of successful football games that bear his name, John Madden will live on in videogame history just the same. 

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