Genre: Sports Developer: Tengen Publisher: Tengen Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
There is absolutely nothing like opening day for Major League Baseball. Going to an opening day game is something that is very exciting, fulfilling, and gratifying. The smell of the popcorn/peanuts/pizza/hotdogs/beer, and the crack of the bat signal that yet another year of Detroit Tigers’ baseball is upon us. Another beginning of a baseball season brings me, and hopefully most Genesis sports gamers, to yet another RBI Baseball game, and the one at the plate today is RBI Baseball ’94.
First off, if you lived under a rock in ’94 or don’t remember what happened in the sports world, 1994 was a strike shortened season that actually didn’t have a World Series. It’s a shame, too. Think of it like the 2004-05 NHL lockout, except that it was our national pastime. Another shame was that Les Expos de Montreal were rocking the baseball world similar to how the Florida Marlins did in 1997. Some could point to that as the catalyst for their eventual move to Washington D.C. to become the “Nationals.”
Anyway, with the rich gaming history of RBI Baseball present, I originally considered RBI ’94 to just be another yearly update of the same baseball engine. WOW, was I wrong about that one. There are almost countless improvements over almost every previous version, which makes this game a certain must-buy. Also, there are multiple little upgrades to the game, rather than enormous changes that take away from or change the experience. So, go grab your peanuts, scorecard and beer, and get ready to be rocked by RBI Baseball ’94.
When you first turn the game on, you get a voice talking to you after a pitcher pitches the ball right at the screen: “RBI Baseball ’94!” which immediately segues into a tune that sounds like your local TV channel going to a MLB game. Cool! For the most part, the menus are the same as they were in previous games, but the backgrounds are a bit more interesting than previous efforts: fans walking to the upper deck, coaches talking to umpires, etc.
When you get your game started, you will immediately notice things that we have never seen in a RBI baseball game to date: fluid motions! Actual digitized player photos! Ball and strike lights similar to a manual scoreboard! It’s just such a major improvement over the last few games that frankly, it is surprising. I just have the feeling that by the time this game came out, it was too little too late to try and save the franchise. It really could have become something! As coach Lou Brown said in my favorite baseball movie Major League: “There are two or three potential all-stars on this team!”
The fielding is virtually the same from every other RBI game, which sometimes gets on my nerves, but that’s neither here nor there. The pitching, similar to previous games, is slightly more in-depth thanks to a stamina bar that they provide. Good, now I don’t have to worry about my pitcher getting tired in the third inning of a 12-10 game. Now I can see it! In all actuality though, it does help in terms of knowing when to pull the pitcher or not. Had the game been more suited towards playing an entire season, I think that they could have done more with this.
One thing that still bothers me about this and all RBI games in general is the main field perspective. If I remember correctly, one of the selling points on one of the boxes was that they had all thirty-odd ballparks at the time! Well, it certainly would be nice to see them for a change! Especially because there are so many nice ones, but you only get to see them when you bomb one.
Overall, this game has a sleek polish over the tried and eventually true RBI Baseball format. It is a very good game. However, with World Series Baseball coming out around this time, and the fact that the last two games before this one were basically roster updates of itself, I believe this game equals “too little, too late” to save this once proud and heralded franchise.