Game Review: Nicktoons MLB (Wii, DS, Xbox 360)

A roster of real-life MLB All-Stars have teamed up with famous Nicktoons characters for the ultimate baseball crossover extravaganza. Play as your favorite Nickelodeon characters like SpongeBob, Ren & Stimpy, Invader ZIM and more! Don’t laugh; Nicktoons MLB is actually one of the better sports games for young sluggers (Xbox 360 version reviewed here).

Nicktoons MLB has several game modes. In Pick-Up Game Mode, choose a real life MLB team and squeeze in a few Nicktoons stars for a quick game of baseball. Or enter a string of games in Tournament Mode. In Showdown Mode, choose to be real life MLB players or a full team of Nicktoons and play a match to see who is the best. Distance Derby is a batting mini-game where you try and hit targets on the field.

As you play, you’ll unlock virtual baseball cards starring your favorite Nicktoons characters. You can view them in the Card Collection mode. Also included in the game is a packet of real life baseball cards featuring Nicktoons and MLB players (do kids even collect baseball cards anymore?). Finally, you can change settings in the options mode, like difficulty of the computer players, number of innings, and volume.

Of course, the stars of the game are the MLB players and Nicktoons characters you can choose. Characters from SpongeBob Squarepants, Ren & Stimpy, Avatar, Invader ZIM, and more are all available to play in any game mode. In fact, I plan on writing a separate blog on all the Nicktoons in the game, so watch for that later on. You can play on fanciful stadiums like an underwater SpongeBob field, or an outer space Invader ZIM diamond. Or choose a real life field, including The Ballpark at Arlington! Go Rangers! (Hey, what do you expect? I live near Dallas.)

Play control is super easy to learn, and even young players will be able to understand how to play. You can also use the Kinect with the Xbox 360 version, but it’s not mandatory, using the controller works well, too. The only drawback to the game is some may find the controls a little too simple, as fielding and base running seem almost automatic sometimes. I’ve played kiddy baseball games that are more complicated than this. But personally, I like the simplified controls. The only other bad thing I can think of about this game is the announcers: the news-fish from SpongeBob and GIR the robot can be a bit repetitive. You can turn them off in the Options menu, but I wouldn’t want to hurt GIR’s feelings! Ha ha!

But seriously, this is a surprisingly fun game of baseball that the whole family can enjoy playing together. Very highly recommended if you have really young gamers in the house.

Kid Factor:

Nicktoons MLB is rated E for Everyone with a ESRB descriptor of Comic Mischief. Cartoon antics abound, such as Stimpy picking his nose. But if you’re OK with your kids watching these cartoons, they’ll be OK playing the game, too. Reading skill is helpful for some of the pop up text instructions, but the toon announcers are almost always on hand to speak and tell you how to navigate the menus. But the controls are simple enough that it’s pretty easy to figure things out just by playing. And the selectable difficulty levels mean sluggers of all ages can enjoy this. The game is even helpful in teaching the basic rules of the sport.

Funny story about this game: my 18 year old brother Jeff saw this and just rolled his eyes. He hardly ever takes a look at the kiddy games I review. But once he saw me playing it and noticed how fun and good it looked, he played it right after me! So any game that can get him to be interested in it can’t be bad, right? Plus, my other brothers who are avid Avatar and ZIM fans are anxious to play this one, too. So I think it’s a great game that all ages can enjoy together.

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