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As WP's managing editor, I edit review and preview articles, attempt to keep up with the frantic pace of Rainier's news posts, and keep our reviewers on deadline, which is akin to herding cats. When I have a moment to myself and don't have my nose in a book, I like to play action/RPG, adventure and platforming games.


Atari Ships Three 'Backyard Sports' Titles

by Judy on Sept. 27, 2004 @ 8:13 a.m. PDT

Atari has announced three new Backyard Sports titles shipped to retail stores nationwide today, including Backyard Skateboarding and Backyard Hockey 2005 (PC) and Backyard Basketball (GBA).

Backyard Skateboarding, the newest addition to the award-winning Backyard Sports franchise, features professional skater Andy Macdonald and several new features unique to Skateboarding including vibrant 3-D worlds, signature moves from Macdonald and power-ups that let skaters accomplish signature Backyard tricks. Backyard Basketball for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, featuring Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, and Backyard Hockey 2005 for Windows also join the Backyard Sports line-up this week. Backyard Hockey 2005 features the Boston Bruins' Joe Thornton on U.S. packaging and Mats Sundin from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Canadian packaging. All three games were developed by Atari's Humongous Entertainment division, the creators and developers of the Backyard Sports series, the only sports series that let kids play with their favorite pro players as kid sized versions of themselves.

"I had an awesome time working with the team at Atari and Humongous to make Backyard Skateboarding," said Andy Macdonald, pro skater. "We worked hard to make all the moves and tricks in the game as realistic as possible to give kids a real sense of the sport and I think it really paid off in the end. We also added some of my signature moves and some cool tricks that can only be done by each of the Backyard Kids in the game."

"The strength of the Backyard Sports brand continues to grow with each new addition to the series - especially when a new sport is introduced," said Nancy MacIntyre, vice president of marketing for Atari, Inc. "We are thrilled to deliver our first individual sport this year with Backyard Skateboarding and think that the new type of gameplay will make it a great addition to the line-up and a winner with new and old fans of the series."

In Backyard Skateboarding, players select to skate as Andy Macdonald or one of the 10 playable Backyard Kids included in the game. Kids can also choose to create their own skater which enables them to customize everything from their nickname, favorite song and hair type to the colors and logos on their gear, skill level and clothing and shoe type. There are four awesome 3-D environments for players to explore including the Backyard Neighborhood, Boardwalk, Medieval Castle and an unlockable Ultimate Skatepark.

In tour mode, skaters choose to complete a full tour as a pro skater complete with sponsors, trick lists and a tour book, while trying to re-create sweet tricks like landing ollies, backside air, kickflips, Benihanas, as well as signature Backyard tricks like Pablo's Belly Button Lint and Achmed's Knee Slide Power Chord. Crazy power-ups allow kids to pull cool moves like Super Ollie, Molasses Time and Spin Cycle that they wouldn't be able to do in real life. Complete different mission and players can unlock extras like new skaters, special accessories, cool levels and skateboards.

Backyard Basketball and Backyard Hockey 2005 feature 3-on-3 action (plus goalies in Hockey), 3 ways to play (Quick Game, Single Match or a complete Season Play), various selections of courts and rinks, unlockables and dozens of power-ups. With Backyard Basketball for Game Boy Advance young gamers can play against their friends with a Game Link cable or play a variety of rinks when playing Backyard Hockey 2005 for Windows.

In addition to Duncan, Backyard Basketball features Tracy McGrady (Houston Rockets), Shaquille O'Neal (Miami Heat), Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves), Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks), Vince Carter (Toronto Rapters), Ray Allen (Seattle Supersonics), Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics), Yao Ming (Houston Rockets), LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) as well as all 30 NBA teams.

Backyard Hockey 2005 features all 30 NHL teams and 10 playable NHL pros as kids including highlight players Thornton and Sundin, as well as Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils), Marian Gaborik (Minnesota Wild), Jaromir Jagr (New York Rangers), Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings), Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers), Mike Modano (Dallas Stars), Rick Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Roman Cechmanek (Los Angeles kings). In addition, players can earn the ability to "unlock" four NHL All-Star players.

Backyard Skateboarding and Backyard Hockey 2005 for Windows have a suggested retail price of $19.95 and Backyard Basketball for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance retails for $29.95. All are currently available at retail and are suited for ages 7 and up. The award-winning Backyard Sports line-up also includes Backyard Basketball and Backyard Baseball for the Playstation 2 computer entertainment system, and Backyard Basketball 2004, Backyard Baseball 2005, Backyard Football 2004 and Backyard Soccer 2004 for Windows.

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