This is a series of blogs based on my own personal game collection. I will attempt to go through them in a chronological order according to their release date. I will also attempt to play then on their original platform using the original controllers the game was designed for. If I am unable to get the system or the game working then I will use PC emulation or another platform emulation like the Intellivision Lives! game for the gamecube
7. Nintendo's Baseball (1983)
9. Sega Master System's Great Baseball (1987)
10. Nintendo's Bases Loaded (1987)
R.B.I. Baseball for Nintendo Entertainment System (1988)
The late 80's brought about a new era of baseball video games. The first entry of popular baseball game franchises will make there start during this time. Nintendo was taking over the family TV and baseball was quickly becoming the most popular sport video game. Last entry of this series introduced the Bases Loaded; here we introduce the popular R.B.I baseball series. From here on out Bases Loaded and R.B.I will continue to produce sequels and compete for the market share. R.B.I. Baseball included many new innovations but they all dwarf in comparison to their greatest innovation which was including actual MLB player names and their stats in the game. No game before could I play as my favorite real life ball player and after R.B.I Baseball not sure if I can go back to generic players. Keep in mind however that they only had a contract with the players association and not MLB so the teams were still generic and team names only consisted of the city
One general rule to keep in mind while playing R.B.I. baseball is the presentation style is cartoony and less realism. Bases Loaded attempted to present the players, field as real as possible, R.B.I Baseball simply doesn't. All the players are short and fat and the uniforms are very colorful and bright, The speed of the game is a lot faster than how baseball is typically played. Overall there is a general 'arcade' style to the graphics. The game splits the pitcher/batter duel into 3 vertical cameras. On the left we see a close up of third base, the middle is the batter and pitcher as well as 2nd base in the distance and on the right is 1st base. With game time information easily readable to for the user. The current batter's stats are always displayed as well as the pitcher's information. If you are a fan of baseball stats than you will fall in love with this game; All the game stats are very easy to read and use the correct baseball abbreviations.
Even though this is the first game to include real life MLB players, each batter, base runner and pitcher contains unique stats that affect the gameplay, graphic wise they sort of dropped the ball. All the batters look the same. They are all white with a little belly fat to them. Their bats are a little cartoony, and wide, the width of their helmets. The base running animation is pretty smooth and I enjoy the way the base runners are shown when they get ready to steal. It appears as though every play ends up being a slide into the game, which is a little odd but still somewhat enjoyable to watch as you feel the play was close. The batter can move about inside the batter's box as well as the pitcher can move about on the mound.
The pitcher/batter duel display shows a really detailed close up of all the bases and is easy on the eye. The infield however is less detailed. I can only assume the stadium is in a dome because there is no infield dirt along the base paths only around the bases itself. A lot of Astroturf fields during the 80's had their fields constructed this way but for a very game it seems a little weak. Once again we presented inside a stadium, which I think it is safe to say par for the course now in baseball video game history. There is no way a game can come out that doesn't include stadium graphics such as outfield walls, flags, and scoreboard and take itself seriously. There are umpires positioned on the field which is increasing become standard for baseball games as well and always nice to see. One of the field innovations this game includes is the stadium lights. The games are all played at night and as such along the stadium walls you can see the lights. There is no lighting effects but rather just white circles grouped together to represent light bulbs
For the love of all things that are video games, when can we actually see individuals in the crowd or at least see a crowd that looks like it contains actual humans and not some wallpaper pattern that can be seen in my grandparents living room. The crowd in this game is under par. I am not sure why games continue to use this method of displaying a crowd, maybe the system just can't handle animations of that size?
Home Run Celebrations
Bases Loaded still has the best celebrations in my book but this game isn't bad. It takes a page from Super Mario Bros and displays nice fireworks celebration. Because the games are played at night why fireworks shouldn’t been shown right? Real baseball should adopt this feature. Like Super Mario Bros, the numbers of fireworks are not random; 5 fireworks for solo home runs, 6 for two runs, 7 for three runs and 8 bursts of colorful explosions for a grand slam. The number of fireworks makes this game of the firsts to do something different for grand slams vs home runs.
As much as the popular behind the pitcher view has become in the late 80's, this game improved the tried and true behind the batter view. What makes this game unique and the game's most visual unique feature is the screen is split into three separate screens. The base runners are not displayed in a picture-in-picture view or a graphical icons representation. This game has dedicated cameras for each base and during the pitch you are presented with all three camera views. It is not as confusing or busy as it may seem and nice attempt to present the gamer with the entire information one needs to manage and play a game of baseball. When the ball is in play it goes to a one camera system with a graphical representation of the base paths to determine the location of the base runners at all times.
This is the second baseball game that has background music, the first being Bases Loaded. While the bases loaded background wasn't memorable, the background music for this game is almost unbearable. It included looping over the same 5-8 note melody and was very 'beeb-boop' The sound effects for this game wasn't that great either and there was no umpire voice calling the plays. This is the biggest area of improvement the developers should make for RBI Baseball 2.
Gameplay - Modes
RBI Baseball provides the user with three different modes of play
- 1 player - 8 game season, attempt to beat all 8 teams
- 2 player - 7 game series.
- watch - you can decide to sit back, put the controller down and watch two CPU players compete. While this is new to baseball video game, it is hard for me to call this a gameplay mode when you literally do nothing but watch.
Gameplay - Defense
We are at our 11th entry into this series and as such the gameplay on the defense and offense really hasn't changed. To field the ball you control the person closest to the ball. I found catching a pop fly a little challenging than what it should be. It was hard for me to determine where the ball is going to drop and I noticed myself focusing on just the shadow of the ball. The ball itself does increase in size the higher it is but when the ball is so high it is out of view you have no idea if it is coming down or still going up. It might be improved if the size of the ball's shadow increased as well. Also I feel the pitching is short and fast, I can easily pitch over 100 mph fastballs.
Gameplay - Offense
Nothing too out of control on the offensive side of the ball. I am able to move the batter around the batter's box as well as control the speed of the bat and perform timely bunts. You can take control of any base runners as well. Maybe it is me being confused with all the baseball games I have been playing but I found it hard to bring a base runner back to their starting base. I had alto of outfield popflys turned into double plays against me because the CPU auto moves the runners halfway. One side thing I did notice is when you strike out, your batter gets pretty upset and cries. Is this little league?
Rules of Baseball
I mentioned a couple entries ago that the direction these games are going, there appears to be different sub genres. Arcade baseball games and simulation. RBI Baseball would fall in the arcade style in terms of gameplay but includes enough stats and strategy that it can viewed as a baseball sim. There is a mercy rule for the game to make the games move along faster. All the players have increased number of stats associated with them and the stats help setup matchups. There are players that are fast, players that hit the long ball more than others; as such you have to manage your game a little more closely like a baseball sim. The stats are real and taken from MLB 1986, 1987 seasons and the teams you can select are the division winners during those seasons as well.
There is no major misstep in the general rules of baseball and because of this; RBI baseball is a real solid baseball game.
Video Game Innovations
- Real MLB player names,numbers and stats
- Night games
- Baseball helmets for batters
- Mercy Rule ( up by 10 runs)
- Watch mode
- Multiple Cameras of equal size
- Stadium lights
- Grand Slam animation different than Home Run
- Seams of the baseball shown