Baseball games and I share a long history. My older brother is one of the biggest baseball nerds I’ve ever met. Some of my favorite early gaming memories consist of riding in the back of our Dodge Ram van playing Ken Griffey Jr Slugfest on our tiny 12″ portable television. While sporting games do not make the largest segment of my gaming routine, they do, however, hold a special place in my heart. As such, my years of filthy-casual sports gaming have proven was worthwhile in preparing me for today’s review. While R.B.I. Baseball 19’s arcade style makes it a fun game to play, it does have some issues.
R.B.I. Baseball 19 is the latest title in the historic baseball franchise that dates back to 1987’s R.B.I. Baseball on the Atari, NES, and SNES. Its arcade gameplay in combination with the cartoon-ish animation creates an entertaining version of America’s favorite pastime. While this iteration has proven to be entertaining, R.B.I. Baseball does not possess the strongest track record, with previous meeting mixed reviews.
How are its mechanics?
As previously mentioned R.B.I. Baseball is an arcade style game. As such, any expectations of a full-blown baseball simulator should be left at the door. With that out of the way, the game is actually fun to play. It is a simple system mechanically speaking. When pitching players choose horizontal pitch placement and a simplified pitch selection: regular, fast, off-speed, and curve. When batting players can choose batter placement, swing time, and whether the preference is grounder or fly-ball. Fielding is straight forward: move to the ball and throw to the corresponding base.
How well does it play?
R.B.I. Baseball 19 sports the game modes you would expect to find in a baseball game: exhibition/quick play, franchise, post-season, home run derby, and online multiplayer. In my time with the game, I‘ve taken swings in each of the game’s modes finding them to be enjoyable but not without flaws.
Pitching within the various game modes is over-all a fun experience. My previous experience with baseball simulators like the MLB: The Show franchise has ruined simplified pitching systems for me. I enjoy choosing sliders vs screw-balls. I love the challenge of using all of the pitch types to keep batters guessing. While you are able to do this in R.B.I. Baseball 19 it leaves you wanting more. I did experience a glitch where when attempting to pick off runners I was simply unable to do so. I cannot tell if this was due to the infield automatically shifting into a defensive stance, not holding the runners on the bag or if the system was glitching.
Batting, on the other hand, is terrible. As a player, you are able to move a player in the batter’s box and time his swing. That’s it. To boot, the grounder/fly-ball selection seems to be broken. When I flick or hold the stick to indicate my preference, the player moves in the box throwing off timing and swing. The only mode where this was not an issue was the home-run derby where batting is merely a matter of timing and prayer.
Is it worth putting in some reps with?
To be perfectly honest the game is fine. It’s not great, nor is it terrible. As previously mentioned, I’m a fan of baseball simulators. Even with this though, I still had a fun time with the game. The game’s controls are simple, to a fault in my opinion. While it does the basic elements of an arcade style game well enough, R.B.I. Baseball 19 is merely just an okay game. It’s not bad by any means but neither is a groundbreaking. If you don’t have an arcade style game in your library, this is a good purchase on sale. Would I purchase it full price? Not likely.
Allen works professionally in photography, cinematography, and marketing. As a lifelong camera junkie, he channels his creative and technical energy into the craft of photography, both in digital and analog processes.
He also loves playing games of all sorts, shapes, and play styles. Most days when he’s not doing photo related things he can be found playing D&D, Diablo III, Battlefield 1, or something retro. He also is a co-host and producer on the Min/Max Podcast.