Backyard Basketball - PC - Review

Humongous delivers a slam-dunk with Backyard Basketball

“It’s good to be here, and to be here is good,” quips the astute commentator Barry Dejay.

Yep, would have to agree with that. Backyard Basketball, from Humongous Entertainment and Infogrames, may have simplified or ignored some of the standards of PC basketball games – like the ball rolling out of bounds; it doesn’t in this game – but the emphasis is on fun. And Backyard Basketball delivers that.

Kevin Garnett, a tall, lanky youth, pounds the ball across the time line. He looks up and sees the power-up has clicked on. One more dribble, then Garnett leaps from far beyond the three-point line. Soaring Jordan-esque, Garnett delivers a thunderous dunk that draws oohs and aahs.

This program is targeted for “kids” ages 7 and up. Control-wise, players even a couple of years younger should have very little trouble learning to control the game. At its most elementary settings, the game is controlled by the mouse. You point and click – it’s that easy. Click on the spot you wish to dribble to; click on a player to pass the ball or defend against that player; click on the basket to shoot the ball.

The game is a three-on-three competition, featuring the regular Backyard gang, and some pro players like Garnett and Lisa Leslie. The options package allows players to customize their teams and colors, select the style they wish to play in, and set the starting lineup.

From that moment on, you enter the world of Backyard sports. Sunny Day and Dejay deliver the game commentary. The sound not only features the play-by-play, but on-court sounds – the players talking to each other (“I’ve got this kid,” “Boy, that kid is fast” – all good-natured chatter), as well as power-up sounds and the swish when the ball finds its home in the twine. Sunny is the sensible one of the commentary duo; Barry is really out there, but he delivers his lines with such confidence and smoothness, you have to believe that he really knows what he is talking about. And his interviews are fun.

The animation is very good. As mentioned, the ball doesn’t go out of play, so the action is constant. There are cutscenes, like during the pregame introduction by Sunny and Barry, a post-game interview with the player of the game, and the dunks are cutscenes – at least the finishing move is.

There was a drawback to the game, and game flow. Though it only happened once during the entire time the game was played, it still shows a bug in the system. Because the ball does not go out of bounds it is possible to have it trapped in a corner. On one occasion, opposing players scrambled after the ball, and jammed each other off of it. They locked, the clock kept counting down, and there was a clacking sound. It was impossible to call time out, or otherwise interrupt the flaw. Imagine being down by a point in the closing seconds of a game when this happened. You face the choice of losing, or quitting the game and beginning again. That is not a good thing.

For those who like to keep track of their games, Backyard Basketball keeps stats – not only game statistics, but season and playoff stats as well. You can keep track of how your players are doing, and how they match up against other players and teams.

In the real world of basketball, a triple double is a remarkable achievement. Humongous’ Backyard Basketball delivers that triple double in graphics, sound and fun.

Install: Easy
The full install is 362 megs, with the compact installation only taking up 8 megs of hard-drive space. This is hybrid disk, meaning it can play on both PCs and Macintoshes.

Gameplay: 7.5
From the opening tip to the whistle ending the quarter, the game moves quickly up and down the court. There was only the one flaw (stalling, noted in the story above) detected during the game experience.

Graphics: 8
The animation is very good, and the overall graphic look of this game is lush and colorful.

Sound: 8
Listen close to the kids on the court for a few chuckles. The overall audio quality is very good and it supports the graphical elements very well.

Difficulty: 8
The controls are easy to handle, and there are a variety of skill levels to challenge players of any age or ability. The learning curve on this game is between 10-15 minutes.

Concept: 8
Humongous continues to delight with the Backyard series of games. This is another prime example of a game that moves the series forward.

Overall: 7.8
Despite the one flaw already noted (but which has to be taken into consideration when scoring the game overall), this game is a delight to play. It will not only appeal to younger sports fans, but some older ‘kids’ may enjoy the program as well. It combines solid graphics and animation, sound and game play to deliver a product that is as sweet as the sound of a three-pointer that hits nothing but net.

Good

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