Gaming is in bloom!

It's springtime again (finally)! Time for all kids to go outside and play! It's time for soccer, riding bikes, running around the neighborhood until bedtime, and baseball. But let's face it, we live in Ohio. More than likely it's going to rain a good portion of spring, like it always does.

So what should our kids do on a rainy day in Ohio when they can't play outside? Sit around the TV watching ridiculous shows? Sure, if you want mushy brains. Why not try one of the multitudes of motion-sensored sports games? Most of them aren't that expensive (around $30), and are even cheaper as a rental. (Let's face it, the rain WILL end sometime.)

Wii Sports is probably one of the best motion-sensored sports games out there and comes free with the purchase of a Nintendo Wii, but I'm going to talk about two other options that will make kids feel like they're still outside playing with friends. First, a little baseball:

Backyard Baseball '10 (Wii, PS2, DS) Rated E for Everyone
www.atari.com/us/games/by_baseball_2010/wii

You may have read a past article of mine in which I wrote about the Backyard Sports titles. Well, it's a new year and that means it's time for this year's release of Backyard Baseball. BB'10 took over where last year's title left off and improved on the batting and pitching controls, making it a much smoother game.

In addition to the controls, BB'10 has better pitching and batting camera angles. Now the camera is behind the pitcher when you pitch and behind the batter when you're batting. Normally the game is a one- or two-player game, but you can join up with three friends for a four-player home run derby, or get the gang together for an eight-player tournament! The controls for fielding are simple enough, and motion control to any game is definitely a welcome bonus. The swing timing was a little hard to get used to for me, but my son Tyler hit a home run from the first pitch (argh!).

All 30 MLB teams are represented in BB'10, and there's a roster of pro baseball players from every team, along with all classic BB kid players. Throw in the insane pitching and batting power-ups, unlockables and milestone achievements and you've got yourself a pretty solid title. And with the motion-control pitching and batting, it's like the kids are still outside playing sports. All in all, it's worth a look.

And then there was tennis by Big Daddy himself (of course I mean Mario):

Mario Tennis Wii (Wii) Rated E for Everyone
http://www.mariotennis.com/

The Mario Tennis franchise has been around since Nintendo 64 days (back in good old 2000) and I fell in love with it immediately. Simple controls, gorgeous graphics and the Nintendo characters I grew up with sold this title to me immediately. I've stayed a fanboy through all of Mario Tennis' adaptations across all of Nintendo's platforms and it's about time it made it to the Wii. Sure, tennis on Wii Sports is fun, but nothing compares to Mario smacking a fireball-covered tennis ball across the court at an unsuspecting Donkey Kong.

The Wii version of Mario Power Tennis is practically the Gamecube version with Wii motion controls. The controls and gameplay are simple and also it's one hack of a workout. All of the classic shots you can make on the ball (slice, drop shot, lob shot) are performed by swinging the Wii remote in different ways while returning the ball and using the power shots to your advantage (and your opponent's disadvantage), keeps everyone on their toes. The game offers 2-on-2 doubles for four-player gameplay and boasts a slew of minigames and unlockables. And as I said before, there's a whole slew of Nintendo characters available to take control of on the court.

It may be the same game with the same name, but motion control makes it a completely new world. And it's only $30!

So there you have it. Even though it may be a typical Ohio spring, that doesn't mean your kids have to sit around like lumps. Toss a Wii remote in their hands and watch them jump around like they never came inside.