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

Backyard Baseball - PlayStation2

Backyard Baseball - PlayStation2

Fall 2004 Video Games
Ages: 7 - 15 yrs.
Publisher: Atari, Inc. - MA
Price: $19.99
Gaming System: PlayStation 2
The same cute neighborhood kids packing personality and a wide range of baseball skills are back in this new PS2 version, but their appearance has gone 3D. Like in last year's GameCube version of Backyard Baseball, this one rounds those faces and sharpens the scenery at the ball fields--which takes a little getting used to for longtime fans of the Backyard sports series. Those flat cartoony faces were kind of funky.

While the controls may take some getting used to (try a practice round or two), playing on a console gamepad proves easier than playing on a mouse or keyboard on the PC version--one of the few differences in the game on the two platforms.

Otherwise, the game's all here with baseball's most basic rules intact (though simplified for kids). All the familiar and fun power-ups are in the line-up, such as the fireball and freezer pitches, and lightening and sonic boom batting. And the whole stats ballyhoo of baseball is back again for those hooked on keeping-the-book. Licensed with Major League Baseball, the game again features the logos of all 30 Major League Baseball teams. This time around, ten mini stars--MLB pros playing as youngsters--include Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Albert Pujols, Sammy Sosa and Dontrelle Willis. 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--plus a few bonus games.

So the cynical parental concern: Is it worth buying if past Backyard Baseball versions are around the house? This version looks cooler than ever. Some hardcore baseball-lovin' kids look forward to the new season every year--even in videogames.

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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