B.T. : While the 2014 World Cup is over for the United States, I can’t stress how proud I am of them to get as far as they did. And Regardless of where your team ends their run you too should be proud of them. To be honest I’m not a huge soccer fan and yet as I look back in my childhood, one of my favorite things outside of playing video games with my friends I would have to say was playing soccer in my backyard and elsewhere in the neighborhood. Ironically enough there is a game that makes me remember backyard soccer aptly called Backyard Soccer.
This game was made by Humongous Entertainment and published by Infogrames on PC, PlayStation and much later for iOS. Now I never played the actual PC version but it has been said that the controls were horrible comparable to the PlayStation version. This is likely due to the fact that it had no controller support for a genre that is not comfortable to play with a keyboard and mouse.
The Backyard games are a sports series of games including this game, American Football, Basketball, Ice Hockey, Baseball and Skateboarding. Though I have only ever played this game, Baseball, and Ice Hockey; I would have never played any of them if it wasn’t for my older brother getting me into this game series. For me I would have to say it was because it brought a childlike sense of fun to a genre that I typically don’t associate with. That’s not to say that I hate sports games, they just aren’t something I play regularly and I could honestly live without them.
Jon: This game was definitely made for kids. It has simple controls that seem to be something you’d expect from a Genesis or a SNES game. That’s not bad, but it does hamper things, especially when it comes to passing. The whole presentation is very cartoony, although the menu music is very catchy. Much better than what you’ll encounter during games. Once you start up a match, you get to pick from some logos and an adjective (stuff like Mighty, Little, etc) for your team name. I always pick Little Giants, but that’s just me personally. You also get to pick from two colors for your uniform. From here the game lets you choose your team, alternating between yourself and the opposing team (it randomizes who picks first).
And I must say, when greeted with the potential players, you can tell this game was made at the turn of the century. They have the most awful stereotypes for these kids. The guy in the wheelchair who just loves sports despite not being able to really play them. The tall black kid who’s fast. The nerdy ugly girl. The Italian “guido” kid who talks like a mafia don. The chubby Mexican. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if this game came out today the SJW crowd would be all over it. That said, one neat thing about the game is that when paired up with certain characters, the attributes change. If you pick both Webber twins, they’ll get a stat increase. If you pick Don Mafia and his sister is on the opposing team, they both get an increase. So that’s cool.
The game also does a cool thing where you can pick your formation. Normally in a kids game they just have one default thing. Not here. You can have a defensive formation, a balanced formation, an offensive formation, and you can alter their behavior. This adds a layer of strategy that most games targeted at this age group aren’t used to having. From there the game starts, and you can pass, run, shoot and slide tackle. Simple, right? Problem is, the passing is kind of off and the characters crowd everywhere so if you’re playing on expert, the game can be kind of boring.
Overall: Backyard Soccer has these silly kinds of things such as power ups to make a non-fictional game more fictional and bring some entertainment into the game. For the most part it stayed close to the actual sport minus power ups; and a few other notes. This game also like the many other backyard games parodied the sport of which it is based on. The parodies or even homages appeared in this game such as parodying the FIFA World Cup, or having a character be named after a prominent soccer player. It’s not a perfect game by any means, but if you can find it for cheap, it’s worth a purchase, if you have kids it maybe worth getting solely so you can play with them or show them a sport that you love and make a life long connection.
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