Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

MLB Dugout Heroes

MLB Dugout Heroes

Fall 2009 Website
Ages: 6 - 14 yrs.
Developer: David Chang
Producer: Chris Yamauchi
Producer: Jonathan Stypula
Launched in April (2009), this is the first fully MLB-licensed and free-to-play online PC baseball game in North America-two impressive attributes since the game plays fundamentally well and doesn't cost a cent.

Users start by downloading and installing MLB Dugout Heroes, a process that's a bit lengthy and tedious, though given that all MLB ballplayers names and team names are included, a little patience is needed. Once registered, players can view a tutorial on how to play. And gameplay is very basic, made simple for a younger audience. Players bat and pitch using the mouse; they throw and run bases using keyboard buttons. Fielding is AI-automated. It gets a bit more complicated that for power hitting, power pitching, stealing, pick-offs, advancing runners, hitting cut-offs and the other aspects of playing baseball, but nothing's hard to grasp. Like in real baseball, you can also substitute players, relieve a tired pitcher, etc.

Once signed in (requires only email to create ID and password), players pick their team featuring the correct major league roster with animated Wii-like cartoonish ballplayers vaguely representational of the real major leaguers. Then they play a game-against some other MLB Dugout Heroes user somewhere in North America looking for a little baseball action at the same time. Games last 3 or 5 innings unless extended by a tie.

Winning raises your team ranking; losing lowers it. Players also earn "nuts" during games by accomplishing certain tasks on a daily and weekly basis. Accumulated nuts can be spent at the MLB Dugout Heroes store for accessories like grip spray for batters and rosin bags for your pitchers. Beyond totally free play, players can use real money (i.e., credit cards) to buy "campus credits" (1,000 for $10) at the store that get the good stuff-new players, new uniforms, power-ups, etc. All of this is set up to accommodate the regularly returning player, of course, but even a spot game here or there can be fun.

While there are cool, high-tech 3D baseball videogames available out there, this game plays fine and is entertaining-and gets extra points for being free!

Don Oldenburg   ©2009 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Clever Communications

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