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 is a simple football simulation intended for kids who aren't yet comfortable with the more adult sports games. While the game has a practice mode, parents may need to help explain how you run plays to kids unfamiliar with playbooks. Occasionally, a tackle can look as though one player punched another to make him fall down, but no one is hurt. The Backyard Kids are a diverse group of both girls and boys, of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. This is a fun game for two friends to play together in the Pick-up Game mode.
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What's it about?
If you have a young gridiron fan who isn't ready for the complexities of Madden NFL 08 or NFL Tour, BACKYARD FOOTBALL 2008 on the Wii may be a good fit. The idea behind this series is that kids play sports with other Backyard Kids, including child-versions of current professional players. This edition features Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Urlacher, Reggie Bush, Michael Strahan, and nine other NFL pros. Each Backyard cartoon kid will talk to you, encouraging you to pick him or her while you draft your seven-person team. During this draft, the Backyard Kids' strengths and weaknesses are displayed in terms of simple charts. Once you've selected a team, you can manage it through a whole season or opt to play a quick pick-up game with a friend or against the computer.
On the easiest of the three levels of difficulty, you hike the ball by pulling up on the Wii remote, and throw it by mimicking that action with the controller. On defense, you tackle by flicking both the Wii remote and nunchuk down; and to jump, you flick the controllers up. Other more sophisticated moves incorporate the other buttons on the controllers.
Is it any good?
Backyard Football works well with kids who are new to football. Playing this game will help them understand how professional teams run offenses and defenses. Unlike other football video games, it makes playing the game simple, since most of the main actions are tied to intuitive motion-controls using the Wii remote. Even on the hardest level of difficulty, this is a streamlined football game that's perfect for video game rookies.
To learn how to play the game, there's a practice mode, and the manual explains the basics of the game. Kids must select plays to run. If they have never seen these before, the practice mode doesn't do a good job of explaining how they work. Parents might want to help at first. However, once you get a feel for how to play, what makes this game so much fun for kids is that you can throw in wild arcade-style power moves. For example, you can make the ball slippery by using the Grease Ball power-up, which causes the offense to drop the ball. Plus, watching pint-size cartoon versions of famous pros is entertaining in itself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it's like to play sports with other kids, including famous NFL Pros as kids. Do you think Tom Brady sounded and looked like what he was as a kid? How about the other stars including Peyton Manning and Reggie Bush? Did you like playing with the crazy power-ups? Was it fun unlocking wacky stadiums in which to play, new players, and more power-ups? Was it important to you to play as a NFL team, and if so, why?
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