A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's a wonderful diversity of characters available in this game. Characters range from David Ortiz of the Red Sox portrayed as a child to Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners and backyard kids with the names of Dmitri, Annie, and Maria. Yes, every team selected by the game has at least one girl playing on it. It does an excellent job of introducing children to the game of baseball and how to play it as a video game.
What's it about?
BACKYARD BASEBALL 2009 is a return of an Atari favorite, last seen in Backyard Baseball 2007, with an expanded cast of real baseball players. The game imagines professional players as children in a backyard baseball lot playing with other children of all races.
There are six different games in all. Play Now and Pickup Game are one- or two-person games. The former randomly selects the players for each team, the latter allows you to pick your game options, teams, and players. Tournament allows up to 8 players to pick a favorite team and play a series of games, Season is the single player game with the most options including selecting coaches. Home Run Derby is a 2- or 4-player mini-game to hit the most home runs, and the All-Star Game fields only Pro players as kids on your team.
Is it any good?
What makes this game so good for kids is that the controls are simple. Flick the Wii remote like you are throwing a baseball to pitch and swing it like a baseball bat to bat. The force of the throw and the force and timing of the swing does make a difference but neither is too difficult for a child.
Two wacky commentators add to the fun. Plus, the game features "power ups" which are unusual powers that create unpredictable results. A "Slime Ball" covers the ball with goo so that when you hit it, and no one can field it. Another excellent feature is that the players have moods. Good days, Okay days, and Bad days affect players' performance on the field.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about having Good Days and Bad Days and how that can affect performance in a game or any other kind of event such as music and quizzes. What can cause you to have a Good Day or a Bad Day? What can be done to help make the next day a Good Day? What can be done to overcome a Bad Day?
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