|System: Wii, PS2, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Humongous Entertainment / Farsight||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 10, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Backyard Baseball series is back with the '09 edition. The budget sports titles have endeared fans with their kiddy visuals and lighthearted approach to America's favorite sports. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot going for these titles other than the amiable presentation, as gameplay is decidedly low-brow. Nevertheless, unlike other discount gaming entries, Backyard Sports attempts to bring gamers quality by enlisting a professional player from every team and providing MLB-backed licensing via official team jerseys and an AL/NL All-Star Game. If you're looking for an arcade baseball title, pass on this one; it's glorified shovelware that's really only appropriate for youngsters learning how to play video games.
As the name implies, Backyard Baseball '09 takes players to the primary school diamonds, curbed main streets, and rolling meadows of mid-American suburbia. Gamers can choose from a selection of professionals and Backyard players to round out their squad. All of these players are represented by cute little kids of varying ability. Putting together a top-notch crew is pretty easy, and players will quickly master the arcade baseball mechanic.
Batting, fielding, and pitching are all simply executed with just a handful of face buttons and clicks. The Wii version does allow you to flick the remote while batting, but pressing the A button is far more accurate and less tedious. In other words, there's almost nothing to this title, as fielding, batting, and throwing are done almost automatically. In fact, Backyard Baseball '09 is very similarly to the original Baseball title for the NES (which can be downloaded on to the Virtual Console). Don't get me wrong, there are several distinctions between this title and that antique, including varied game modes, fields, and character abilities, power-ups, distinct difficulty levels, and enhanced graphics. However, as far as gameplay is concerned, they are nearly interchangeable.
Backyard Baseball '09 offers six modes of play. Play Now and Pickup Game are nearly indistinguishable from each other. Both modes allow players to quickly hop into a single game, but Pickup allows you to choose the teams, players, and venue. There is also a Tournament mode, which features an eight-bracket tourney. You can take one team all the way through or you can play every matchup. The Season Game gives you the opportunity to play through a 16 or 32 game season. This is the most interesting mode of play, as player stats, milestones, awards, and unlockables are tracked and opened. In Home Run Derby players can swing away with up to four selected characters, and the All-Star Game pits AL Vs. NL. Interestingly, the All-Star lineups constantly change, so players get a somewhat different experience every time they play.