YMMV / Backyard Sports

The series in general provides examples of:

  • Accidental Aesop: Believe it or not, Pablo was more or less nearly intended to be this trope. This NPR interview states that he was originally designed to look like a character you wouldn't be likely to pick, due to being the shortest kid in the lineup, having his belly stick out from his shirt, and being Hispanic and not speaking any English so that he would look like a character who had little experience. Rather than making him a weak player, though, they decided to be ironic and make him the best player in the game (and we all know how that turned out). It essentially can be worked into the ultimate subtle "don't judge a book by its cover" moral.
  • Badass Decay: In the original games, Pete Wheeler could master everything with his blazing speed. He eventually degraded into being the same as the other characters, thanks to the pros. He also Took a Level in Dumbass.
  • Broken Base: Oh gosh, do not even get us started. This series may have one of the single most divided fanbases in the history of gaming, which is impressive considering it's intended for kids.
    • First off, the most dividing point of the fanbase is the pro players. Do they add or do they take away from the game? Are they annoyingly overpowered? Some love them simply by being sports fanatics and loving the idea of being able to play with their favorite players and find it awesome just to see them being featured at all and being referred to by name, but other purists hate them because of their lame personalities and generic designs. Admittedly some games did it better than others, but the pros are the single most divisive element of the games.
    • Some players treat the games as Serious Business and put a ton of thought and effort in who they pick, deriding others who don't play exactly like them. Then there are others who of course say it's just a kid's game, and there's no need to take it so seriously.
    • Baseball 2003 and Soccer 2004 are divisive games as well, primarily because they made almost no changes aside from recasting the voices to the Audio Godz ones. On the one hand, because they're SCUMM-based titles they seem to have a competitive edge over all the games after (the SCUMM games are the most liked and fondly remembered, so the Nostalgia Filter is fully in play there), but the voice cast has some pretty mixed opinion, with a few saying that it was completely unnecessary and finding them vastly inferior to the old voices.
    • The Yaga games (Hockey, Football 2004, and Basketball 2004) introduced the redesigned characters and aesthetics, deprecated the old clubhouse menu scheme, and in general made a lot of changes that upset some long time fans but others found refreshing. Opinion on these tends to be the most mixed, since they're still 2D but made just enough changes that people can't agree whether they were worthy entries or not.
    • And finally, the 3D games, though Baseball 2005 seems to at least have an overall positive opinion. The rest, though, are in full-on mixed territory, especially Football 2006 (the last game officially made by the original Humongous Entertainment), due to its removal of a few characters and very weird gameplay mechanics that required you to use the mouse and the keyboard at the same time, with no simpler option offered.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: The series is very well known for its unique and diverse cast of extremely memorable characters...and most of this doesn't even matter because for most players, once they figure out their lineup of choice, it can be really hard to not tempt yourself to take that lineup every time, especially because there's a good handful of characters that nearly everyone picks first (try finding anyone who doesn't start with Pablo). The first three games actually tried to avert this on single games by purposefully not having every character selectable (there will be some absent from the bleachers), but all this did was cause everyone to complain that they couldn't always pick their favorite character, so the mechanic was eradicated starting with Baseball 2001. And speaking of which, for the games that include the pros, this trope applies even more so because the pros have much higher stats than most of the Backyard Kids, making picking a team a near brainless process. The Basketball games are probably the worst offenders since your lineup consists of a mere five players, only three of which will be in play at a time — meaning you likely will never run out of good players to pick.
  • Dork Age: Backyard Baseball 2007 started this, with a complete design overhaul that put the characters into their teenage years. Several characters were removed, with new ones in their place. Around this point, the series was simply used as a cash cow for major sports licenses, with every single bit of not caring in full force. It peaked at the 2010 titles, until the series finally lost the major sports licenses and had to start using effort again. It wasn't enough though; see Win Back the Crowd below.
    • Additionally, for a Dork Age in the voice casts, you won't find a whole lot of people who will claim the Audio Godz voices note  to be the best ones. It's bad enough that Lani Minella hogs the spotlight (she voices both of the announcers in two of the three games she was cast in!), it also doesn't help that she counts as a Replacement Scrappy for Vinnie the Gooch, who lost his very distinctive "you don't want to mess with me" tone that made him so memorable in the original Baseball games. There's also the fact that the voices make an excessive overuse of being really squeaky and too kiddy-sounding, which quickly becomes apparent and grating in the field chatter. It's telling that they were only used for a single year's worth of games before being dumped entirely, and most people didn't complain when they were.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Pablo Sanchez is more popular than the rest of the cast combined. See Memetic Badass below for reasons why.
    • Achmed Khan is also popular, although to a much lesser extent, largely due to his amusing Metalhead personality. Being freakishly strong when batting in Baseball doesn't hurt either.
  • First Installment Wins: The original Baseball is by far the most iconic game in the series.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Half the pros. Many of them took steroids (Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa as examples), and many have their own specific reasons (Ricky Williams chose drugs over football).
    • One of the Backyard Kids' names is Dante Robinson — the same as one of the murderers (alongside his brother Justin) of 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale in October 2012.
  • First Installment Wins: More like first engine wins; ask anyone, ANYONE who was ever a fan of the games what their favorite was. They will be almost guaranteed to list a SCUMM engine game as their favorite (anything from Baseball to Soccer 2004).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Pablo Sanchez is considered to be one of the best, if not the best player in the game, especially when it comes to baseball. In the 2013 Little League World Series, there was a kid named Pablo Sanchez on the Puerto Rican team that represented the Caribbean region.
    • In 2016 the NFL changed the rules on two point attempts where the opposing team is allowed to turn the ball over and run back into the other endzone for two points. The original game had this in tact 17 years earlier.
  • It's Easy, so It Sucks: A complaint of the later games.
  • Memetic Badass: Pablo Sanchez, full stop. For just about every single player, he's the first pick. His incredibly high Game-Breaker level stats combined with being a Bilingual Bonus made him the single most popular character in the series and essentially the franchise mascot, and survived when the games went 3D.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The three-note power-up obtain sound, which debuted in the original Football... unless it's the opponent the jingle plays for.
  • Pandering to the Base: Atari only tries to attract young sports fans now.
    • And they were baiting the fans of the old games back with Sandlot Sluggers.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The series has just become a cash cow for the sports leagues. The developers don't try in any other way.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Abner Doubleplay was the original one for fans replacing Vinnie the Gooch in Baseball 2005. Besides the fact that his commentary in general is much more generic than Vinnie's, he also has an incredibly nasal voice that makes all of his commentary come off as obnoxious and unneeded. Then there was the voice narrator starting with Baseball 2007 where Sunny Day was now not even in the games. It gets worse, with "Sandlot Sluggers" and "Rookie Rush" where the commentators are annoying old Southern guys that don't seem to have any business being there with one of them having annoying commentary about his dog.
    • A lot of the newer characters get this as well. Infamously, Joey MacAdoo who appeared when the other kids started to disappear as the series went on, but Joey was kept on until the series went mobile.
    • The pros to a lot of fans as well to the fans of the originals.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Long before she became Cortana and Princess Peach, Jen Taylor was the classic voice of Sunny Day, Luanne Lui, Billyjean Blackwood, and Maria Luna.
  • Sequelitis: As with every other sports game ever.
    • If you really want to get specific on how the Sequelitis started, the company who had started the series, Humongous Entertainment, went bankrupt after a failed experiment. All the rights were sold to Atari, Inc. after 2002. They made all of the 3D titles, and have caused decline in quality ever since.
  • Tainted by the Preview: Backyard Hockey, because the characters were redesigned.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Many cases; when the characters were redesigned, when the games went 3D, when the Leitmotifs were changed, when they turned the characters into teenagers…
  • Tough Act to Follow: Except for Pablo keeping his classic theme (albeit as a remastered remix), the new character themes introduced in Baseball 2005 weren't necessarily bad by any means, and many could agree they fit the characters very well, in some cases better than the previous themes...but the original character themes were so iconic to all who had grown up on the series that a lot of players outright admitted they could never get used to the new ones. It doesn't help that many of them were arguably much less memorable (of course, they also had to match up to Rhett Mathis, who already had an extremely good track record of composing well-regarded music for Humongous games even outside of the Backyard Sports, having already done the insanely catchy penguin beats in Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo and the widely-liked soundtrack from Putt-Putt and Pep's Balloon-o-Rama).
  • Vindicated by History: The early Atari titles weren't well-received when they were initially released. After the 2007 games rolled around, though, most fans went back to those and realized that they were actually faithful to the original games in comparison.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: You can make this happen yourself with the custom players in most games, if you give them the opposite voice of their physical appearance.

Certain installments of the series provide examples of:

  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • In Soccer 2004, one of the fields is called Fappy's Farm (or just Fappy Farm, which arguably sounds even worse).
    • In the Baseball series, "The gooch likes that! Yeah, give me some more of that!"
  • Awesome Music: Plenty of it.
  • Breather Boss: The Joustasaurus from Backyard Skateboarding. You can lose your juice meter by bumping into him and it only comes out of the gate for a limited time, but those are easily fixed: you don't need the juice meter because you can just jump over him each time.
  • Contested Sequel: 'Baseball 2001 and Soccer: MLS Edition. People debate whether the addition of pros, who make up half the playable characters in the former, is good or bad.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Vinnie the Gooch is easily the most liked color commentator across all the games. He's not anywhere close the Memetic Badass status that Pablo has, but still retains quite a bit of it due to his very distinctive deep voice and Deadpan Snarker attitude ("What she means is...she won't stop yapping for the entire game!"). On top of that, his commentary is probably the funniest of all of the other color commentators, and it doesn't quite get as repetitive either. Is it any wonder Abner Dubbleplay was so hated when he took his place?
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Michael Vick's in-game nickname is "Mr. Electric". Guess something he's done to dogs.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Basketball has Barry DeJay and Thor Herring as Purposely Overpowered Secret Characters with full stats for everything. You can't use both of them at the same time, though.
    • Depending on the game, one stat can really make or break things.
      • In the Football series, put someone with full stats on "Running" on the running back position. They will easily score most of the touchdowns unless their catching stat is really bad. In fact, even the AI seems to know this in Football 2002 because they almost always go for Pete Wheeler early on.
      • Similarly, quickness in the original Basketball. The fast players pretty much dominate the whole game unless every single one of their other stats is awful.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Backyard Skateboarding is absolutely full of these. Perhaps the best one is being able to jump infinitely, which makes it a whole lot easier to reach high areas, and is the only way to get the coins on top of the castle in Merry Olde Englandland if you don't know the cryptic proper way. There are many others aside from that though, like being able to phase through walls and clip through many obstacles.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In Baseball, Stephanie Morgan, when pitching, says she models her pitches off Randy Johnson, who actually became playable in Baseball 2001.
  • Most Annoying Sound: "We want a batter, not a broken ladder!"
  • Porting Disaster: Football on the GBA. Apart from being painfully slow, we also get very low difficulty and annoying controls.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Running, for the outfielders in Baseball, although fielding can account for this as well.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Backyard Skateboarding could probably qualify for being a watered-down version of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games, but being enjoyable all on its own. The Good Bad Bugs listed above are probably what make it this, not to mention the physics that make no sense at all (you can grind at full speed when going up on power lines!).
  • Spiteful A.I.: Often, but most notably in the Baseball games with pros, when playing a Single game the computer player will pick a team consisting of nothing but pros other than the kids who perk specific players.
    • They are also quite fond of snatching the other Khan or Webber character if you decide to pick one (they play better if their brother/sister is on the same team), particularly in the original Baseball. The latter is especially annoying because the Webber twins are essentially powerless if you don't have the other one.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Basketball on the PS2, as well as Basketball 2004 on the PC, gained the NBA license and ironed out a lot of the bugs the original had.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Very clearly attempted with Sandlot Sluggers and Rookie Rush. It seemed like an attempt to get the series out of the Dork Age that had plagued it starting with the 2007 games. Part of this seems to be the lack of a major sports license in both games, which meant a removal of the cash cow status and the ability to simply throw a game together and expecting to rake in money without trying. They actually put some level of playability into the games and added in an extra level of effort such as giving more life to the voice acting and adding unique power-ups, and giving a very cartoony look and feel as opposed to the realistic look the previous games adopted. There was also a whole lot more marketing for it, with a comic strip working as a prologue to the game and actually giving the games a plot for a change. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like they knew exactly what put the series into its Dork Age to begin with — for one, the players are still teenagers, which rubbed a whole lot of longtime fans the wrong way. Even worse, they removed even more characters, with only eight of the original thirty characters as part of the cast, plus Joey. The series also didn't return to the easy-to-use mouse controls it was famous for in the beginning, not even in the PC version, which required practically every key on the keyboard to play. Considering the complete Broken Base nature of the fanbase in the first place, not to mention a whole lot of older fans completely turned the series off at this point, these were probably not good decisions to stick with. Indeed, it not only did nothing to save the series, but it only buried it further, and there have not been any games announced since, possibly even making both of these Franchise Killers.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/BackyardSports