Backyard Sports: Sandlot Sluggers
What parents need to know
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?
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?