Sports games do one thing in the current video game market: Clog it... fast. Each year we are bombarded by countless iterations of NFL games. Someway, somehow, these things sell millions upon millions of copies leaving collectors diving into $.25 bins two years later trying to complete collections. It wouldn't be so bad if they all played like Backyard Football though.
Pick five players, pick a field, and go. That's it. This is just like you remember it from way back in grade school. They even included a kid in a wheelchair who plays just as good as everyone else. Even better, some NFL players have been included (in their pre-pubescent forms of course) to help kids relate to the on-field action a bit better. Yes, this entire package is meant for kids, but who cares when it's so much fun?
It may sound unbelievable, but there's even a franchise type mode, create-a-player, drafts, training camp (to introduce the younger set to the sport), stat tracking, NFL styled playoffs, trophies, awards, commentary, play creator, lineup adjustments, league leaders, and more. This is a game not completely meant for kids and this insane package of features proves it. The commentary is corny (provided by "Sunny Day" and "Chuck Downfield," the only BFL player to sack himself... twice), referring to such kiddy funnies like underwear, but this can all be turned off if you so desire.
Once onto the field, you'll be surprised how smooth the actual football is. It's almost like a 3-D version of Tecmo Bowl when you begin to think about it. Running the ball isn't that easy (and it shouldn't be) so you'll find yourself going to the air on a regular basis. The selection of plays (a measly 15) during the actual game is limited, but as mentioned above, pre and post game menus let you select and customize them at will.
Unfortunately, the games main downfall rears it's ugly head here too. It's just too easy. Money plays are prevalent, the A.I. makes some really stupid moves, and recovering onside kicks has never been easier. Even with the handicap feature turned all the way up, the only thing this changes is the % of passes completed. Another annoying feature is how the receivers simply stop after running their routes, never looking to get open. This teaches kids to throw the ball quickly and not wait around, but they should also learn that their receivers will make every attempt to get open in an actual game.
Proving even more that this game is made for the older gamers out there, this one even supports progressive scan for HDTV owners and Pro-Logic II for audio-philes. While neither the graphics or sound are particularly special, these are great additions that are surprising to see in such a game. Considering there are only ten kids total on the field, there should definitely be more polygons used to make these kids look perfect. As it stands, the style used to create these characters is outstanding on every level and the sheer cuteness of these little ones can't be denied. Various fields include a water park, beach, city slum (complete with police sirens!), desert, and more. Each has their own personality with individual field markers and the like.
This is the perfect game for the non-sports fan... or the die hard sports fan as a guily pleasure. It's an enjoyable experience marred by only a few issues that keep it from classic status. It deserves to be updated on next gen consoles, EA's NFL exclusivity in place or not.