RBI Baseball 20 | Review | Switch - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, March 20, 2020

RBI Baseball 20 | Review | Switch

by Danny Bivens

A swing in the right direction. 
Since debuting on Nintendo’s platform in September 2017, RBI Baseball has fallen short in a number of areas. Gameplay, performance and other aspects of the game left a lot to be desired, which was very disappointing considering that RBI was the only MLB licensed game on the platform. With RBI 20, a lot of changes were made to the gameplay that really elevate the title well above previous entries into the series. But, is it enough to make RBI 20 worth your time?

Like I mentioned previously, there are some big changes in RBI 20 when it comes to pitching and batting. The game introduces these new modes to you in the form of tutorials when you first boot it up. While pitching, the camera now is centered behind your player on the mound akin to what you would see in a real MLB broadcast. You are now able to choose from a variety of pitches by using the joystick and the B button. Once you decide on your pitch, you can decide on where you want the pitch to go by moving the joystick. Once that’s decided, you simply press B again and fire away. While your pitcher is going through his windup, you can increase the “effort” on the pitch by holding B. This will make it a little more difficult to choose your location, but it results in a more potent pitch. Using more effort on a pitch will drain your stamina a bit faster.
Pitching goes even deeper here to give RBI 20 a better sense of realism. Of course, the less stamina your pitcher has, the less likely he’ll be able to throw the ball accurately. There is also a “Confidence” rating for each pitch in your repertoire. This varies depending on how successful you are with your pitches. If you throw a curve ball and it gets knocked out of the park, your accuracy for that particular pitch will go down. When throwing a ball with low confidence or stamina, aiming is pretty difficult, as the cursor will be moving around almost uncontrollably.  Conversely, even if you have low stamina, if your confidence level on a pitch is high, you will still have good control over your pitch.

Honestly, I am really impressed by this change to the game and have really been having a lot of fun with it. Just like in real baseball, there are a lot of things to think about when you’re on the mound. Ball placement, your pitcher’s stamina, how much oomph you want to put on the ball - it really makes for a realistic yet fun way to experience the game of baseball.
Batting has also gotten a facelift in RBI 20 but the mechanics remain simple. To swing, you simply press B to initiate and then release to swing. By holding the B button, you are able to add more power to your swing. It gets a little bit more complicated here. The more power your swing has, the harder it is to make contact with the ball. Some strategy comes into play here with that, as using less power might not knock a ball out of the park, but it could be just what you need to get some men on base to start a rally.

The key to getting hits is all about timing and the location of the ball. Although you can’t control exactly where your bat is going to be (or move your player in the batter’s box in the modern controls option), the game does a decent job at putting it where in needs to be with your swings. There is an option to control the position of your bat when you swing, but it didn’t feel very good. In that control option, you are dealing with not only the timing, which can be challenging, but also moving the bat to the left or right, or just keeping it dead center. Honestly, it was almost too much as the new batting system does a good enough enough job of this automatically. Overall, the batting feels okay but does take some time to get used to. It can be a little difficult to judge whether a ball is going to be a ball or a strike. I definitely struggled when I first started out, striking out more times than I care to admit. It’s challenging, but you can get used to it after playing through a few games. I should note, RBI 20 still does contain options for a “Classic” control scheme from previous titles. It even retains a pitching camera, too. Before going that route, though, I think you should really give these new modes a chance.
Fielding remains pretty similar to previous RBI titles. One new addition, something I’ve been begging for since RBI 2017, has been added here - the ability to dive for balls with the press of a button. In the previous games, this was alway handled automatically. While there still are times when there are auto dives, it really feels good to finally be able to do this on my own. Overall, fielding is okay. There are still some issues with ball collision. There were times when a ball looked like it should go right by or in between defenders but it didn’t. If the ball is in the general area of a player, it will be stopped. It’s kind of a shame and can be frustrating if it happens to you. While typically serviceable, there will be times when your defenders will just not be in ideal positions to make plays, or when they might cover a base when they probably should be going after the ball. Fielding could use a bit of a facelift, but like I said, it okay most of the time.

Modes on offer here are the same as RBI 19 - Exhibition, Franchise, Post Season and Home Run Derby. Unfortunately, the Switch version still does not support online play. Franchise is probably where most people will spend their time. Here, you have up to 10 years to try to win the coveted World Series. Home Run Derby with the new batting mechanic is pretty fun once you have the timing down. The performance issues from last year where the game would chug during this mode have been ironed out for the most part, though you might notice some jitters when the ball is in play.
Visuals here look similar to last years RBI 19. Player models sport a lot of details and look like their real life counterparts. Small things, like more realistic hair for players to dirt appearing on uniforms after making a diving catch or sliding are great touches that are also here. The camera angle while pitching is awesome and really adds a level of authenticity that wasn’t in previous titles. The crowd, which you’ll see more of thanks to this camera angle, is a little low resolution, but they react appropriately - standing when you’re a pitch away from ending the inning, giving disappointed gestures for strikeouts and more. The stadiums themselves look great and accurately depict the real life ball parks.

Sound is pretty spot on here. The crack of the bat sounds authentic and the game also boasts several music tracks that play between innings and on the menus. The “play by play” is the same as what was found in previous entries with a PA announcer calling strike, balls, fouls and home runs. This aspect of the game was and still is a bit underwhelming.
Performance overall is okay. Some of the cutscenes are a little bit jittery and are basically the same as what was found in RBI 19. Very rarely did any of these jitters effect the gameplay. I did run into a few weird errors that made it so I had to close and boot up the game again. This actually happened when I was making a pitching change. If you use a pinch hitter for your pitcher, that player is on the mound at the start of the next inning. The game asks you if you want to make a change. You can also initiate a substitution by pressing the L button. When going into the next inning, I knew I had to make a change, so I pressed L, however, the game also went through the automatic sequence of asking if I wanted to make a change. Then it kind of just froze between menus and I had to restart. BUT, after booting up that game, I was able to continue from where I left off - RBI 20 has an autosave feature which enabled me to complete that particular game. It was kind of frustrating, but at the same time good to know that this feature is in the game.

RBI Baseball 20 on the Switch isn’t perfect, but it really surprised me. The series has really come a long way since the 2017 iteration of the game. There are a few things that can be improved upon (more accurate fielding, performance and some glitches) but I can safely say that this is actually a fun game that baseball fans should consider picking up.

Final Score: 7.0

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