Review: RBI Baseball 17 (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: RBI Baseball 17 (Switch)

by Danny Bivens

Hit the showers!

The RBI Baseball series holds a special connection with Nintendo. Starting out on the NES in the late 1980s, the original RBI Baseball was actually a reworked version of Namco’s Pro Yakyū Family Stadium (aka Famista). It set itself apart by being the first console baseball game to use the MLB Player’s Association license alongside the great arcadey gameplay. Fast-forward to now. Namco’s Famista series has continued to this day…in Japan only, while the RBI Baseball series fell to the wayside until its rebirth in 2014. RBI Baseball 17 marks the first appearance of the series on a Nintendo platform since 1995. It’s a great idea however this game falls short in numerous places. 

Similar to the old titles, the idea of the controls are very simple. Despite this, both the batting and fielding can take quite a while to get used to. The fielding is what gave me the most trouble. Sometimes it was legitimately my fault for taking terrible angles on a ball hit into the outfield only to watch it drift back to the wall. It always seemed that the ball was moving at a somewhat unrealistic trajectory, almost always going deep into the outfield if I missed it. On line drive hits, the computer automatically makes your player dive or jump (even when on the  manual control setting) which usually results in missing the ball. Not only that, but a majority of the time, the dives were so weak and short that the player was essentially staying in place and just flopping onto the ground. Once you get used to these inconveniences, I wouldn't say you'll enjoy yourself, but you might get good enough to tolerate playing. 

Things also get a little bit troublesome with the animations, particularly when it comes to throwing. After you field a ball and move to throw, your player takes a short step to get set and then fires the ball. This seems to happen more times than it needs to. There are occasions when it makes sense (i.e. an easy out to first from second), but other times when you really want your player to hustle, they will just lackadaisically throw the ball with no sense of urgency. It seems like a huge oversight in a game that is being billed as essentially an arcade-style game to have these pseudo flashes of realism. 

RBI Baseball 17 does a decent job at capturing the look and feel of Major League Baseball. The stadiums and playing fields are pretty close to their real life counterparts. The player models, while simple, get the job done. The crowd on the other hand harkens back to the N64 days with cardboard cutout-looking blobs of people populating the stadium. The sound is also pretty weak as well. Aside from the believable sounds for hits and catches, there’s no commentary and only a PA announcer who happens to apparently be making the calls on the field. 

RBI Baseball 17 is a bit of a mess. It tries to be old school but at the same time has some more modern features, such as complicated animations, that end up slowing down the gameplay. While the idea of having a baseball game that you can take on the go (that isn’t a cell phone game) is super appealing, it’s just a shame that the execution just isn’t there. RBI 2017 is a functional game, but even if you’re starved for a baseball game on Switch, it’s probably best to take a pass. 

Final Score: 4.0

(Review code provided by the publisher)

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