Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Backyard Baseball 2005 - PC Software

Backyard Baseball 2005 - PC Software

Fall 2004 Software
Ages: 7 - 12 yrs.
Publisher: Atari, Inc. - MA
Price: $19.99
Platform: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
Like baseball returns each spring, so does the newest version of this kid-friendly fun-and-strategy baseball game. Will yet another upgrade of its engaging arcade-like mix of playground and professional baseball action be worth it? The prospect report: This one is a hit.

There's all the fun power-ups such as the fireball pitch and the lightening bat that were there before. And the neighborhood kids are back waiting to be you drafted onto your ball club--a strategic decision based on their abilities, skills (players are rated from one to 10 in power, contact, pitching, running, and defense) or just unusual personalities.

The whole stats ballyhoo of baseball is back again for those hooked on keeping-the-book. And, yup, the logos of all 30 Major League Baseball teams are incorporated. This time around, its Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Albert Pujols, Sammy Sosa and Dontrelle Willis--10 MLB stars appearing as their childhood selves. And if you get good enough as the season progresses, you can unlock six more pros--Derek Jeter, Mike Piazza, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Shawn Green and Greg Maddux.

So what's new? The 3D graphics, that's what. These realistic cartoonish characters and baseball fields completely alter the appearance of this perennially acclaimed game. And there are more camera angles than before, more close-ups, more dimensions, simply more fun. Not only that, but this latest BYB includes minigames such as the veritable Homer Run Derby-- Nomar hit out the most when we played --and new and improved the baseball fields that are energized and vivid, from the beach boardwalk field to the desert classic!

Is it worth buying if your young ballplayers already have a previous version? Ask yourself, how much do they love baseball?

Don Oldenburg   ©2004 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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