Backyard Baseball

a game by Mistic Software

Platforms: GameCubeGBA

Genre: Sports

See also: Backyard Games, Baseball Games

Employing the same successful formula found in its previous 'Backyard'? series of sports games, Backyard Baseball for the Nintendo GameCube takes to the diamond with colorful 3D graphics, solid controls, and exciting game play featuring teams made up of pint-sized versions of some of your favorite Major Leaguers. And while Backyard Baseball may be intended for youngsters, there's a good chance many adults may be captivated by its charm as well.

If you can get beyond its 'kiddy'? image, believe it or not the game actually provides a decent-playing rendition of our favorite pastime. Partake in a single game, homerun derby, or create a team and explore the rigors of season play. The game does include an MLB license for all 30 Major League teams, as well as 10 backyard teams made up of fictional players. And while you won't find every major leaguer, some of your favorites, such as Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Jim Thome, and Pedro Martinez are included. Of course, like all the other Backyard sports games, the players are kids and the action takes place in fictional outdoor arenas as opposed to real Major League stadiums (Hey, with a game title like this, what did you expect?).

When you're on the mound you'll have a full arsenal of pitch-types to choose from including fastballs, curves, screwballs and change-ups, as well as a pitch locator in which to aim your pitch. At the plate, you can select one of four different types of hits: grounders, line drives, power swings, and bunts. In addition, during each game you can earn different power-ups that'll give you an advantage over your opponent. And despite the kiddy theme, the game provides a ton of options for setting the rules, changing your lineup, managing your defense, and viewing player cards and stats. The controls are straightforward and easy to learn. But be warned, once you venture beyond the easiest difficulty setting, the game becomes quite challenging. Nonetheless, it's a blast to play and each game becomes as unpredictable as the last.

The real charm of the game becomes obvious once you see it in action. The player graphics are absolutely adorable and the whole package is loaded with vibrant colors and comical animations. And for a game of this nature, the sound effects do a decent job of capturing the sounds of the ballpark, even if said ballpark happens to be a playground.

If you're a diehard baseball video gamer and only realistic simulations will do, then it's rather obvious that this game is not for you. But if you're a parent of young children, Backyard Baseball will be a delight for the whole family.

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