Have a Ball With Backyard Sports!
Right off the bat, this game has strong potential with the younger crowds. But before we get deep into the gameplay, let us start right at the beginning.
Of course, we start at the main menu in which we choose the team we want to play with. There is no discerning quality between teams, which makes this menu almost needless. My suggestion here would be to give each team a specific ability–something that makes me say, “Yeah! I want to pick this team over the other.” Right now, it is all the same, so I just choose a random team just to get on with the game. After a team is chosen, however, all the characters are the same! Joey plays for every team? Add different rosters to the different teams. It may take a little more work, but it would give this game some more replay value.
Another issue with the main menu is that there is no way to access it again once you have chosen your team and player. I would suggest including a button to go back, in case I want to change teams… though at this moment, there is no incentive to do so.
Now it is time to talk about the gameplay. I like the idea of this game: It is a simple baseball game that does not rely on complicated mechanics that allows me to kill a few minutes here and there without trying too hard. But there are some issues, and they have to do with ease. I have been playing the game for a good ten minutes and I have not been able to make it past the first level. First of all, there are no strong instructions on how to play. Okay, so it is just a point and click type of game that does not require much instructing, but even the easiest games would provide some information about how to play the game. So when I start batting away, I have no idea why I am not getting a home run. There is no meter that tells me how much power I am using in hitting the ball, there is nothing that tells me the speed of the ball. It is definitely just point and click, except that no matter how I point and how I click, it has little effect on the ball. It feels almost random as to where the ball flies (or does not fly) to when I hit it. (I would like to note that I eventually got a home run.) Lastly, I like the ten-ball chance mechanic of this game, but it makes the strikeout aspect of baseball pointless. I would suggest either getting rid of the strikeout component or change the mechanics to innings.
In terms of functionality, I would also like to see a “restart” button while in-game. Essentially, it would be nice to be able to navigate between menus and game with ease, for as of right now, you are only able to go forward, at least until you fail.
As for the graphics, they could use a little improvement. I understand that this game is not meant to be Crysis-level graphics, but they are a tad coarse around the edges. The menus and text look great, but the characters are too pixelated and the game. The game also lacks a certain fluidity that makes the movements seem too rough. And lastly, the grass could use some more texture, something that could make the game feel multi-dimensioned.
Sound is a big problem for this game. With just a couple of mono soundbites, the game becomes repetitive. It would not be too hard to obtain or create original records of some of the comments made during the game. While it would be harder to give it a little music, I would also recommend that–but the soundbites would be the priority. I would also like to hear a sound when I fail a level, not just when I pass it. The other sound effects also need to be revamped. The bat sound falls flat when I swing and when I hit the ball. I would suggest varying sounds for the different ways to hit the ball.
All-in-all, this game has great potential. It is simple and fun, but could use some improvements for added fun. I hope that I have covered my bases with this review!