Play Baseball with Charlie Brown
In Peanuts: It's the Big Game Charlie Brown! by Viva-Media, kids help everyone's favorite "Blockhead" recruit his friends to form a baseball team. In the process, they learn how to play the game, practice, and then participate in a simple baseball simulation game.
Unlike Backyard Baseball 2009, another kids' baseball simulation game, the Peanuts game isn't just a sports simulation. It also contains an adventure game full of logic puzzles, mini-arcade games, and short baseball tutorials that teach how to play the bigger, baseball simulation game.
Two-for-One: Adventure and Baseball Sim
When starting the software, you have a choice of going on an adventure with Charlie Brown to get the team together or going straight to the baseball simulation. Helping Charlie Brown is fun, so start there.
As manager of the neighborhood baseball team, Charlie Brown has high hopes for this season, until he shows up at the first practice to find no one is there. Good Grief!
In this point-and-click adventure, you direct Charlie Brown as he walks around his neighborhood, visiting his friends. He needs to recruit five players, but each has a social condition that needs to be met before he or she will join the team. By clicking on the characters that you meet, you talk to them and get a hint about their social requirement.
For example, Peppermint Patty won't join the team until Charlie Brown has recruited other good players. Schroeder won't play until Charlie Brown has figured out a way to make Lucy leave Schroeder's house. (As in the comic strip, Lucy is pining over Schroeder by staring at him while he practices his piano.)
By meeting a friend's social requirement, you open up that friend's minigame. There are five minigames in all, and each can be played on three levels of difficulty. These minigames reflect the personality of the friend as developed in Charles Schultz's cartoon strip. Thus, the game with child psychiatrist Lucy is a trivia game about the likes and dislikes of each of the players. She won't play baseball with Charlie Brown until he can pass her "Psychological Baseball-Manager Test." Likewise, Schroeder won't play unless Charlie Brown shows some respect for music by playing a game of repeating a musical phrase on a virtual keyboard.
Once you have convinced friends to join the team by completing their social requirements and winning their individual mini-games, they show up on the baseball field. But they won't play until you win their mini-baseball game. By playing five different mini-baseball games, you learn how to play the baseball simulation. In essence, these mini-baseball games serve as tutorials for how to play the actual game. You will learn to bat with Linus, pitch with Schroeder, field the ball with Lucy, run the bases with Pig-Pen, and manage the team with Peppermint Patty.
At the end of the adventure, you are invited to play six or nine innings of a real baseball game with the Peanuts gang. This baseball simulation is very easy, making it perfect for the little kids playing it. You time your swing by watching the pitch come in and clicking the mouse to swing. To pitch, you have four pitches in your arsenal and you can determine where the pitch will go and its speed. You can control the base running, including making a player slide. And moving an outfielder to catch a ball is as easy as quickly noticing the ball's shadow and clicking on that spot.
Peanuts: It's the Big Game Charlie Brown! is a good fit for young kids new to baseball. Full of Peanuts' humor and scenes from the comic strip, the adventure is charming, although it can get a little repetitive. If players get stuck, a walkthrough is included on the CD-ROM. Playing the characters' minigames are fun and provide varied challenges. The software does a good job of teaching how to play the bigger baseball simulation game by breaking it down into mini-baseball games played with the friends. When playing in the baseball simulation game, it never gets too challenging, which appropriately reflects the audience for which it was created. All in all, this is a clever way to introduce young children to the game of baseball.
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