Humongous scores with Backyard
Football 2002 for the PC
He calls out a sharp cadence:
“Sassafras, sassafras, Delaware …”
The ball is snapped and Rich Gannon
drops back. The rush is intensive, but he is unfazed. Pablo is streaking down
the sidelines at Phillips Field. The pass is up and bounces off the back of
Pablo’s helmet – incomplete.
Backyard Football, a Humongous
Entertainment and Infogrames release for the PC, couples the excitement of
football with a joyous kids version of the game into a product that features big
league players with familiar Backyard names in a game that is tackling fun and
As with most Backyard titles, this
game features the commentary of Sunny Day. This time she is joined by Chuck
Downfield, the maestro of the mouthpiece.
Backyard Football 2002 is geared for
ages 7 and up, but that may be a bit presumptuous. The controls are a little
more complicated than a younger player could manage (more on that in a moment).
But when it comes to game play, and entertainment, this game is as finely tuned
as the St. Louis Rams’ offense. The game transforms the up-town game play of a
Madden 2001 game (EASports) to the backyard with youngsters, even several
younger versions of NFL stars, performing the routes and blocking schemes in an
The graphical elements of this game
are very good. The animations are first-rate – bearing in mind the style of the
game play – and the play-by-play commentary is up to Humongous’ high standards.
There are 10 kid-size versions of pro players, 31 NFL teams and logos
represented, and even touchdown dances.
As with most of the Backyard titles,
you begin in the clubhouse. From that point you can create a profile (as in a
coach’s name), create your team and embark on a grueling schedule that includes
practicing against robots, an exhibition game or the season play.
Here’s where it gets tricky – the
control elements take some getting used to. You have the option of using a
keyboard, mouse, joystick or gamepad. If you lock yourself into the latter two,
you may experience a certain level of frustration in trying to set up the
parameters of the game, or exiting. The mouse provides one of the easiest
egresses into the game.
You can, of course, pick a weather
condition, factor in fatigue and weather conditions, but the simple (seemingly)
task of calling plays and executing them relies on field recognition, and adept
selection of the controller’s elements. This is not – even at the elementary
difficulty levels – an easy game to master.
Does any of that detract from the
enjoyment or challenge of the game? Not in the slightest.
The game comes with an assistant coach
mode, which enables less experienced players the opportunity to call the plays,
then let the computer control portions of the actual play that are tough – like
hitting that wide receiver on a fly pattern.
Backyard Football 2002 is a very nice
program that packs the fun of sports and football into a format that will appeal
to all – except maybe the macho guys who will secretly love it, but won’t admit
This game has two install modes – compact
and full. The former will only eat five megs of hard-drive space while the
latter asks for 605 megs of space. This is a hybrid disk, which means it can be
played on either a PC or Macintosh.
The game format is standard for the
genre. The player interface is very easy to navigate through, and the game flow
The animations are excellent, and the
overall look of the game cruises through cute and heads toward adorable. During
play selection, the scoreboard may reveal the disappointment on the faces of
players who make mistakes, and the end zone celebrations are nicely done.
Sunny Day and Chuck Downfield are
excellent commentators, the vocal characterizations are wonderful, and the
actual game sounds contain little jokes and asides.
The assistant coach is a nice feature to
help younger players enjoy the game without having to fumble with the control
elements. This game features a number of difficulty settings, which should make
the play challenging to almost anyone.
Humongous has tweaked an already solid
title just a bit (like in the player creation area), but it still delivers solid
animation and a sense of fun.
This game is packed with fun. The
graphics and sounds are wonderful, and the game delivers solid sports action.
Consider this a touchdown.