I'm probably dating myself here, but I remember playing Backyard Baseball many years ago when it was a CD-ROM game for Mac and Windows. It had memorable characters, each with an actual voice, commentators that were fun (and a little repetitive), and other unique features that gave the game (and a season of baseball) a life of its own. So I was happy to see that this game made it to the Wii. However, upon further examination, it is only a shell of what this game used to be. It's basically a baseball game with very little to do with kids playing baseball in the backyard. No individual voices for the characters, generic looking kids that might have the same names as the classic versions but lack the personality found in those older versions, and unrealistic locales (top of a building? Come on!). Sure, the power-ups are still there, and still crazy as ever, but not nearly as fun and unique as it used to be.
I'm disappointed at this effort. Certainly game technology has come far enough along that you can eclipse graphics and recorded dialog from the late 90s, right? Apparently not.
After a few failed attempts to get kids to play major leaguers as kids, Backyard Sports has gone back to it’s PC roots by letting you control fictional kids on made up teams.
You pitch and bat by waving the Wiimote while holding the A and/or B Button (or not) and you can also use the Nunchuck to place a pitch anywhere in the strike zone. To throw the ball at/run forward or back to a base, hold down the control pad the right way while swinging the Wiimote. That’s about it for the controls.
Some people might want a more immersive experience, but remember, this game’s for kids -- so simple controls are almost a must.
Yet the games aren’t very satisfying. The two announcers are elderly men who make some very odd comments - “There’s a daisy cutter”, “That’s a grass clipper.” They are not the right choice for doing the play-by-play and the commentary for a kids’ game.
It doesn’t matter if you play the Story Mode, the Playoff Mode, the Season Mode, or the Pick Up game, you’ll be playing uninspired baseball games.
The game makers try to spice things up with five mini games that test you hitting, pitching, running, and throwing to certain bases. But I didn’t find anything exciting about them.
What really has me wondering “What were they thinking” is all the times the game says to go out and play the game for real and not waste any time by playing video games like this.
So I say to you, take up that offer - try it for real, and don’t even bother with Backyard Sports Sandlot Sluggers. SKIP IT.