A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is a great way to introduce kids to playing sports in video games. The controls are particularly easy, making it a good fit for children ages 6 to 10. As kids select their team to manage, they can choose kid versions of pro athletes including Paul Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, and Yao Ming.
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What's it about?
BACKYARD BASKETBALL 2007 is the fourth iteration of the popular series where kids play basketball with fictionalized kid versions of professional athletes. In this game, kids can take it to the hoop with youthful versions of Paul Pierce, Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and others. The game is available for Sony's PlayStation 2, PC, and Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. This is a review of the PS2 version.
Modes include Mini Games, Horse, Pick-up Game, and the single-player Season Game. Kids select five players from a pool of 18 kid-pros and 22 regular Backyard Kids. On offense, you push one button to shoot, and the others to pass, crossover dribble, or call for a screen; on defense, buttons are for trying to steal, rebound, guard hard, and switch players. And for kids who aren't very good with using the controls, the game's artificial intelligence kicks in to make things happen.
Is it any good?
This game works well as an introduction to playing sports video games because the controls are easy. Minor annoyances include repetitive comments by the color commentators, limited dunk moves, and the inability to do much on defense. On the plus side, the sound reflects the ambiance of a real game, and the chatter is amusing.
It's just plain fun to play with pint-size versions of the pros on over 10 different courts with real NBA team logos and uniforms, three levels of difficulty, and with or without a friend. You can even unlock new players and bonus items -- in one, you can make players' heads expand. Don't be surprised if this game turns your mild-mannered kid into a boards-crashing hoopster.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how you think the pro athletes look as kids here. Do these depictions seem accurate? How do you go about selecting players for your team? Since the game allows you to design your own player, what skills do you look for most: shooting, speed, defense, quickness, or ball handling?
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