R.B.I. Baseball ’14 Review for iPhone

RBI Baseball 14 ReviewVideo games have gotten amazingly advanced these days.  The life-like graphics and simulation of certain games is truly remarkable.  But that doesn’t mean the games are any more fun than they were 25 years ago when video games were all very basic.

As great as some of these games today are, I am sometimes yearn for the simplicity of the games of my youth.  Sometimes the simplest game can still be addicting here in 2014.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way because some of the most popular games (i.e. Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, Candy Crush) are the most basic.

Just because a game is more advanced doesn’t necessarily make it better, particularly in sports games. I miss the days where I didn’t need to know the intricacies of a 4-3 defense to play Madden, when I could dominate NHL ‘94 with just a pass and shoot button or when I didn’t’ need a long tutorial to play a baseball video game.

And speaking of baseball video games, one of the most popular baseball video games ever made—RBI Baseball— received a reboot this year when Major League Baseball Advanced Media released R.B.I. baseball ‘14 for Xbox 360, PS3 and the Apple Store.

When I was a kid, I played this game until my thumbs could barely function anymore.  So when I learned about this, I immediately spent the modest $5 dollars to purchase the game on my iPhone (The XBox 360 and PS3 versions are also reasonable at just 20 bucks).

I’ve only had the game a few days now but so far, I’d say it’s nearly as addicting as the 1988 counterpart.  The game stays pretty true to the original, just with more realistic graphics and updated rosters.

It still has the familiar two-button control, like you were playing it on your Nintendo.  You have one button to swing and the other to bunt.  There is a “directional pad,” or at least it’s shaped like one on your touch screen where you control the placement, velocity and movement of your pitches.   Every pitcher has the same repertoire—just like the original. They have a fastball, a slider and, when it’s executed properly, the almost unhittable, knuckleball-like pitch.

There are all 30 MLB teams and each team has limited rosters, with your nine starters, as well as two reserve starting pitchers and a closer, as well as three bench players.   You can play a full 162-game season or choose 81 or 52 games, or just do postseason play.

The game even keeps some of the quirks from the old game.  Pitchers get tired quickly and gasp for air like in the old game, and when you accidentally throw to an open base instead of running to the bag, like you probably did countless times with the original, you get an “Old School” achievement— which made for a good laugh when it first happened.

The game is simple, fun and perhaps most importantly, quick.  It only takes about 20 minutes or so to play a game.  And since this game is targeted towards 30-somethings like myself who played the game as a kid, that’s a huge plus.  Like most people my age, I have a kid and a job and no longer have the free time to play video games for hours at a time like I did back in the day.  With this, I can get in a game while my kid naps or if even while I’m on the toilet.

The game is not without flaws though. One of the biggest knocks I saw, as I read through the user reviews, is that there are no cumulative stats. Sure, it would be nice to have cumulative stats, but let’s remember, this is an iPhone, arcade-style game.  It’s not meant to be an advanced simulation.  If that’s what you’re looking for in a game, you wouldn’t ever buy R.B.I. baseball, so I don’t really see this as an issue.  Also, this game is already the largest app I have on my phone (it takes up 342 MB) and if you’re like me and have a 16 GB iPhone, and your camera is loaded with pictures and music, then space is probably at a premium.  I’d imagine including cumulative stats would make the file size even bigger.

Personally, my biggest knock on the game is the base running.  I find the swipe to the next base doesn’t always work that well, and I often have to swipe it multiple times to get a guy to advance.  Often, when I hit a shot into the gap, I either get stuck with a long single or get thrown out at second because I didn’t advance him to second fast enough.

Also as a Yankee fan, the roster is a bit disappointing.  Ivan Nova is the third starter, instead of Masahiro Tanaka and their bench choices of Brendan Ryan and Eduardo Nunez (not even on the team anymore) is a little disappointing.  But these are relatively minor gripes.   I’m hoping they release an update with roster changes at some point.

But overall, I’ve really enjoyed the game so far.  It’s perfect for what it is—an entertaining game when you are looking to kill some time.  And for just $5, why not give it a shot?  When you consider I’ve played numerous times at work, while being paid to do so, then I’ve more than come out on top.

By the way, for old time’s sake…here again is one of the greatest YouTube clips ever made—“RBI Baseball Dramatizes Game 6 of the World Series.”

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