#502 – R.B.I. Baseball

                                                      

                                                                                                       They came to win.

 

                         

                                                                 The boys are back in town. One night only. No refunds.

 

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous

PUBLISHER: Namco

DEVELOPER: Tengen

GENRE: Sports

RELEASE DATE: 1988

 

I’m stunned that there are close to twenty baseball games for the NES. While the NES was around for nine years (1985-1994), one could argue that the system’s peak years were between 1986/7-1992/3, depending on who you ask. That’s still a solid two-to-three baseball games a year! What surprises me even more than that random statistic is that a lot of them are pretty good. Baseball Simulator 3,000, Bad News Baseball, Baseball Stars: three homers in a row right there (to counter that, I’d be more than happy to excise the entire Bases Loaded tetralogy from my memory). R.B.I. Baseball doesn’t “knock one” out of the park nor does it “swing and miss.” It bunts, gets to first, and is pleased by said accomplishment.

 

R.B.I Baseball feels like an unofficial sequel to Nintendo’s own Baseball. From the font on the score board to the cartoony look of the players to each team’s leisurely pace in catching balls, I wondered if Tengen knew what they were doing (my guess: probably). What distinguishes R.B.I. from other contenders – Baseball included – is the licensing. The rosters and stats are licensed from the MLB Players Association, which was a huge deal for 1988. Do the stats really make a difference between hitters/pitchers? Die-hard R.B.I.fanatics might say yes, but I didn’t feel any. What does make a difference are good fundamentals. The controls are fantastic, as are the field camera angles; two crucial elements for a successful baseball game. Batting is solid, as is pitching, but your outfielders are either baseball savants who make stunning plays or complete morons who can’t run. Several times, I was about to catch a ball for an easy out, but my right fielder didn’t have the hustle. Defense, Minnesota, defense!

 

R.B.I Baseball doesn’t distinguish itself from the hall-of-famers on the NES, but it doesn’t shame itself into oblivion like Michael Jordan’s short-lived baseball career. It has its heart in the right place and it has a foundation for potential greatness to come. And what do you know! There are two sequels.

 

B

 

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  • Die-hard R.B.I. fans will tell you that the stats on the screen most certainly don’t matter. What matters is the ratings assigned in the hex code, which has been successfully hacked. There are even R.B.I. editors out there. For the most part, the stats match the codes, but there are some discrepancies.

    Dawson will hit a lot of homers and Ozzie Smith will also never hit one. But that’s not because Dawson has 49 homers and Smith has 0. It’s because Dawson’s hex code that assigns power is way higher for Dawson.

    Also, pinch-hitters are given a boost in that power code (their first time up).

  • Oh man, the B- rating pains me. I had this game and it was one of my favorites. I believe there is a ‘special ending’ if you beat all the other teams in the game. The AL/NL all-star teams were waaay better than the other teams. And Nolan Ryan pitching his 103 mph fastballs was great as well. I do agree that the chubby players in RBI I are much better than the RBI sequels.

    I don’t believe I’ve read your opinion of the best NES game published. Do you have “one” favorite?

    (BTW, RBI would likely be a B+ at the lowest in my book)

  • Hi Clark,

    Yeah, the more I play through the series, the more I really appreciate the first one. The second and third still play well, but the first one does have a greater charm. I’ll likely change my score to a ‘B’ because it is a solid baseball outing. Not one of my favorites, but still good.

    Best NES game published? I have not made a list of my best or worst yet, though I intend to towards the end of the year. I have given very few games the A+ rating, but I would seek those out.

  • Derp, I mean “Klark.” My brain must have been in Superman spelling-mode.

  • Being a big baseball fan at the time, and having my team win back to back world series (Toronto), it was so awesome having Tom Henke as a closing pitcher going up whenever I wanted.