Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers Game Poster Image

Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers

Fabulous baseball game promotes exercise, sportsmanship.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Not only are the implicit message of the game positive ones, like "get exercise," "play outside," and "be a good sport," but those types of messages are literally written across the screen during load times.

Positive role models

Some of the characters can be a bit braggy when they win, but on the whole these kids are all good sports who appreciate good physical exercise and play baseball not just to win, but because it is fun. It's also nice that the cast of the game is so diverse -- in terms of gender, ethnicity, and even body type.

Ease of play

The controls are very simple, but the difficulty level could have been taken down a notch on Easy level. An Easy difficulty level should be for kids who need a major handicap, but the Easy mode here, doesn't seem all too different from the Normal mode.

Violence & scariness

The game features power-ups that include flaming bats and balls, but they don't hurt anybody they come in contact with. A freeze-ball power-up momentarily locks a fielder in a block of ice. In the Hot Potato mini-game, the timer ticks down until the ball "explodes," but despite the use of that word, the only thing the ball does is pop high into the air with a poofing sound.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

An advertisement flyer for a new sports drink is included in the packaging.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers is more than just a cute, family-friendly baseball game -- it's a celebration of playing outdoors. And it's so well designed that it actually stands a chance of meeting its goal and inspiring your kids to head outdoors and get some exercise. The DS version is the least complicated, and the Wii and X360 versions both offer 4-player mini-games and a special "Family Co-op" mode where a younger player can help or get help from another player.

What's it about?

BACKYARD SPORTS: SANDLOT SLUGGERS, the latest title in the Backyard Sports series, takes the franchise in a new direction, including not just the typical pickup games and season modes, but a full-fledged story mode as well. In the story, a bunch of bullies has taken over the sandlot, forcing all the other kids in town to retire indoors and play video games (ironic, we know). You come along as the new kid in town who plans to form a new team and show those thugs who really rules the diamond. But all the best players in town have their own teams, so you must defeat each of them in their own neighborhoods to show them you've got what it takes and get them to join you. If each neighborhood team has its own field, why does it matter if bullies have taken over one particular field? It doesn't matter. You're just there to have fun. Which you will.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

There was nothing wrong with the Backyard Sports series; all of its previous games were pretty great. Yet somehow, Sandlot Sluggers feels like a major improvement. Aside from the obvious benefits of having prettier graphics and smoother play control, you've also now got a bunch of fun multiplayer mini-games, a pair of commentators who provide coaching tips and useful information in addition to their color commentary, super-charged power-ups that take the game far from the realm of reality (but which come in very handy) and the awesome story mode. What you lose in this Backyard Sports entry is the childlike versions of real MLB players, but you won't miss them at all (and they never really looked like the professional players, anyway). This game has two goals which seem to be at odds with one another -- to be a fun video game, and to get kids to drop their controllers and go outside to play. Somehow, it all seems to work.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether it is ironic that a video game should be encouraging children to leave their TV sets behind and go play outside? Can the developers of the game really want you to play outside and still play their video game? What is the lesson about moderation that can be learned from this?

  • The characters in Sandlot Sluggers are all very different from one another, yet play very well together as a team. What does this say about including others who are different from you?

  • You can create your own player avatar for this game. Would you create a character that resembled yourself? Or one that is very different? Why or why not?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo Wii, Windows, Xbox 360
Price:$29.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Atari
Release date:May 25, 2010
Genre:Sports
Topics:Sports and martial arts
ESRB rating:E for Comic Mischief

This review of Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers was written by

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Kid, 5 years old December 26, 2010

great game

loves the Backyard Sports game
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byedward0208 July 27, 2013

cool

I think it is ok but does it need violence
What other families should know
Great role models
Kid, 10 years old May 15, 2011

For kids.

Great for videogame starters, Great.
What other families should know
Educational value