Title: R.B.I. Baseball 19
Publisher: MLB Advanced Media
Genre: Sports, Arcade, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Out Now – 05/03/19
Price: £29.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
R.B.I. Baseball 19 takes the field delivering heightened authenticity for a genuine MLB experience. We’ve added hundreds of new animations, updated player models, every official 2019 uniform, more player gear, improved ball physics and environments, and more!
Your Franchise: Manage your dream team across multiple seasons! Add pieces at the trade deadline, win over free agents, call up rookies and bring on new two-way players.
MLB Legends: Play as 165+ all-time greats like Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, or Reggie Jackson!
Legends Teams: New Legends Teams on Exhibition Mode.
Home Run Derby, Your Way: Pick any MLB player or Legend, any MLB ballpark and customize your bracket.
Weekly Roster Updates: Weekly, season-long roster updates with performance-based statistical tuning.
Bumpin’ Soundtrack: Music from artists including Evaride, Banzai, OneRepublic, and more!
Apparent from my extensive collection of sports-based video games, I am a huge fan of sporting titles. From NBA to Madden, and NFL to FIFA, I have always been a follower of sport and the competitive gameplay that these video games provide. One of my favourite memories of my teenage years was playing Brian Lara International Cricket 2005 – what a game that was. Now, that being said, my eclectic mix of sports games has never extended as far as Baseball.
R.B.I. Baseball 2019 stepped up to the plate for me this month, representing an opportunity for me to review it for Rapid Reviews UK. Due to the negativity that surrounded the first offering on the Nintendo Switch, I was both hopeful and sceptical that this time it would be different. Did MLB hit it out the park, or where they out at second base?
Audio and Visual
I often feel the quality of the visual elements of a title can have a direct correlation with a games success. Whilst this is not always the case, it tends to be that ‘ported’ games from other consoles have either been designed with the Switch in mind, or a tactful development add-on during production. For me, R.B.I Baseball 19 feels like the latter: its competent but unremarkable visuals leave much to be desired.
The opening gambit, inclusive of a well-animated cutscene and a fairly snazzy menu, offer false pretences that it very quickly shakes off. R.B.I Baseball feels much like style over substance, with little in the way of style. Aside from fully-licensed teams and corresponding kit, the stadiums are lacking in personality and the graphics are reminiscent of a bygone era of sporting titles.
The audio also fails to play a role in breathing life into this title, with all sound outside of the enthusiastic, if a little predictable, commentary being dull and disappointing.
Although definitely not the be all and end all of this game, the audio and visual elements do give a clear indicator of R.B.I Baseball and its offering.
Gameplay and Replayability
Already alluded to earlier in this review, R.B.I Baseball 19 is lacking. From personality to features and enjoyment levels, it feels that MLB have relied too heavily on the unique selling point of baseball on the Nintendo Switch. That is not to say it does not have some redeeming features that make it worthy of some playtime, but it does beg the question as to whether some competition in the field would influence what MLB are willing to offer in the future.
With an exhibition mode, a 10 season franchise offering and a Home Run Derby competition, all the usual suspects are here. They all provide something unique and ensure that baseball is enjoyed in all the glory that they were hoping for. There is nothing new available, but the developers do provide a weekly roster update to keep the game current and realistic.
With other Nintendo Switch sporting titles such as FIFA and Tennis World Tour including similar elements and suffering from visual downgrades from their other home console counterparts, it would be easy to suggest that R.B.I Baseball 19 should be considered as much a success as the others. The problem, however, is that the gameplay itself isn’t much fun.
In an average match, you are either fielding or batting. Whilst fielding, you throw the ball to the batter for them to hit the ball and run around the four bases to record a point. To throw the ball, you position your player and tap ‘A’ to release the ball. Whilst in midair, you can manoeuvre the ball to make it more challenging for the opposing player to hit it. It was during this play that I felt the game was best described as unpolished: the player is static and you slide him from left to right. All immersion is lost as the player no longer responds as a human would, and is such a shame.
The same can be said when controlling the other fielders. If the ball is hit into the air, a circle appears on screen which gets progressively smaller as the ball comes down from the sky. You move your fielder into the circle in order to catch it before it hits the ground. For a successful catch, all you have to do is ensure you are in the circle at the end. There is no skill involved here whatsoever. Further to this, if the ball is in your fielders control and you need to play it to another player at a base, all you are required to do is hit one of the corresponding buttons associated with the base in question.
The lack of immersion extends to your time on the receiving end of a throw. Hitting the ball is as simple as selecting your position and timing your swing to connect with the ball. The responses were both unpredictable and uninspiring.
The R.B.I Baseball series has been met with mixed responses since its inception on the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Although the publishers could be commended for supporting their most recent entry with updated rosters, these efforts are misplaced. By now, the MLB baseball series should be well-tuned and engaging. Instead, it feels underbaked and uninspiring. It may be the only real-world arcade baseball title on the Nintendo Switch, but it is also the only one to avoid.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase R.B.I. Baseball 19 on the Nintendo eShop at the following link: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/R-B-I-Baseball-19-1513155.html