Review: RBI Baseball 19 (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: RBI Baseball 19 (Switch)

by Danny Bivens

Great looking, performance plagued baseball. 
2019 marks the third year for the RBI Baseball series to appear on the Nintendo Switch. While the previous entries in the series have been far from perfect, the game has been getting a little bit better with every release (you can check out our previous review for RBI 2017 and RBI 18). With RBI 19, this holds true in some areas, however there are also some aspects of the game that keep it from becoming the most own baseball title on the Switch.

As with RBI 18, 19 has all of the same modes this time around - Exhibition, Home Run Derby, Postseason and Franchise. Exhibition, Home Run Derby and Postseason are quite self explanatory. For the Derby mode, however, you now have the ability to choose any player or stadium that you want as opposed to last year where you could only choose from a handful of sluggers and one ball park. Not only that, but you can even pick from a collection of “legends” as well. You won’t find ALL of your favorite players there, but it’s a pretty nice addition. The Franchise mode lets players take control of a team for up to ten years and allows for things like trades and free agent pick ups. You can even alter the realism for the trades by tweaking how likely potential partners will be willing to trade their players. Customizing injuries is also possible. These are nice touches that allows gamers to make the experience as realistic as they see fit.
Gameplay is largely unchanged from previous versions of the game. Batting and pitching are both simple consisting of one button to perform actions like pitching or batting. The fielding seems to be a bit better than it was in previous games. One thing that drove me crazy in RBI 18 and also the 2017 version were automatic dives and jumps while on defense. They’re still here in this game, however, they seem to work better this time around. It actually felt pretty good. Batting on the other hand still feels sluggish to me and it just takes some time to get used to the timing. Some people might be able to, but it’s just something that I personally can’t fully get used to no matter how much I play.

Visually, RBI 19 actually looks quite nice. The players have more detail than ever and look like their real life counterparts. Animations are believable, the stadiums look great, player gear matches what the real ball player use and the lighting looks more realistic, too. The crowd, which was one of the letdowns from last year, looks significantly better. Last year's was made up of static 2D images that had no movement. This year, that has been scrapped for some 3D models that have some frames of animation. Sure, you don’t get a close up look at this very often, but it’s great to see the attention to detail even for something as small as this. One other big difference from previous entires is the camera positioning while batting. In RBI 19, it's a bit more zoomed in to get you closer in to the action.
Performance on the other hand, is quite a different story. There are a number of times that the game experiences some tremendous slow down and stuttering. This is most apparent at the beginning of games when dynamic camera views show off the player models. It also appears occasionally while batting which can be frustrating. It was almost impossible to replicate, too, so it’s really hard to tell what was triggering the slowdown. Home Run Derby also had some significant issues with stuttering. Again, while batting it wouldn’t happen all the time, but as soon as you hit the ball into the field of play, the engine really chugs.

There are a few other issues that I had with the game. Load times are also a bit long when switching innings and when getting into games themselves. There are also some odd glitches during batting where player will perform extra bits of animation after striking out. On the audio sound of things, RBI 19 also features various licensed music that plays in the menus and between innings, giving it a more modern, realistic feel. The PA announcer for this year has changed, however, he's basically the same as what was found in previous versions. He calls strikes, balls and fouls - nothing too exciting here. With the focus on trying to be more realistic visually, a focus on the audio side with an actual commentator would be a welcome addition.
RBI Baseball 19 has some nice upgrades in terms of visuals and defensive control. However, the lofty upgrades to the graphics tank the framerate making for a subpar experience on the Switch. If you’re dying for some MLB action on a Nintendo platform, you really don’t have much choice outside of the RBI series. Buy at your own risk.

Final Score: 5.0

[Review code provided by the publisher]

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