- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

GAME BYTES/Joseph Szadkowski

The magazine synonymous with covering professional and amateur athletes and their passions for almost half of a century lends its name to a mediocre baseball simulation.
Built especially for Nintendo's latest hand held system, Sports Illustrated for Kids: Baseball boasts a link capability for head-to-head competition, a simplified franchise mode to take a unique team to a championship and the ability to improve a player's skill levels.
However, the game was constructed with younger children in mind, and its overall pace and action equate to watching T-ball on a summer morning.
Not only does everything move in slow motion, but no professional teams or stadiums are available, so users only can choose from cute names like the California Comets or Colorado Cobras.
The game seems to be caught between wanting to be a major contender in the genre and not quite knowing how to accomplish it. Nuances like bunting, leading off and changing batting orders make for nice options considering the space on the cartridge.
Then the profoundly confusing Bad News Bears incidences occur. These include runners failing to advance automatically after a hit behind them, runners stealing almost unchecked, pitchers unable to field and fielders who forget what to do.
Children just learning about baseball and trying to understand hitting or different types of pitching will appreciate the simple, limited controls and statistics, but players over age 7 will quickly wonder why they bothered stepping up to the plate.
Sesame Street Sports
With the help of familiar friends developed by Jim Henson over 30 years ago, toddlers get the chance to enjoy a watered-down extreme sports challenge that, although repetitive, should help develop some gaming skills while actually teaching.
The simulation begins with a amusing ESPN-like sports show starring anchors Big Bird and Elmo. The player has the option either of conditioning or entering the main events for some solo racing with Cookie Monster, Ernie, Grover, Telly, Zoe and Elmo.
For example, a workout might entail Zoe jumping rope while repeating names of colors with their hues reinforced behind her or Cookie Monster jumping on a trampoline while reciting the alphabet.
As kids move on to the courses they will encounter 3D environments like waterfalls (featuring Ernie kayaking in his bath tub), dirt tracks (Zoe on a big wheel) and even a icy luge run (Telly on his snow saucer) with a giant frozen whale to maneuver through.
A Tony Hawk-inspired Elmo made my offspring chuckle as he roller-bladed down streets with the ability to fly off ramps and wave his hands.
Controls are limited to speeding up, slowing down or slightly showing off a signature move, such as Zoe performing a 360 on her Big Wheel. Three difficulty levels combine with a vocal reinforcements of rules, the inability to veer off of a course and a lack of serious competition to keep the fun at a maximum.
Overall, Sesame Street Sports will keep a little brother or sister out of an older sibling's PlayStation 2 collection while demonstrating to parents that a video game might actually have a purpose.

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