Over the years, there have been a few sports games that have become icons in both video gaming and popular culture. Tecmo Super Bowl, Madden NFL Football, and the NHL series are just a few of them that have pretty much solidified themselves in the hearts and minds of sports gamers and pop culture enthusiasts today. One such series of games never really made it out of the 16-bit era but holds its place in a lot of people’s minds. From its classic moments and humble beginnings on the NES in 1987, to its forgotten demise on the 32X, R.B.I. Baseball has certainly made its mark on gaming history.
But which R.B.I. Baseball game for the Genesis is the best experience overall? First, I will give a little background about R.B.I. Baseball in general, and then we will go in depth on each of the five games (R.B.I. 2, R.B.I. 3, R.B.I. ’93, ’94 and ’95 for 32X). Every R.B.I. baseball game includes the “foosball” method of all of the fielders moving together, so quick action on the diamond is crucial in order to make the fielding plays. Because of that “wacky” fielding scheme, some ground balls that look like easy singles or ground outs can turn into triples and singles. Often, you will find a ground ball to third will yield a single simply because the ball takes so long to travel across the diamond. Okay, enough of this, there’s the national anthem, lets play ball!
Take Me Out to the 16-Bit Ball Game
R.B.I. Baseball 3
What virtually feels like R.B.I. Baseball 2 for the NES goes 16-bit, this title delivers the basic needs for gamers that are looking for a decent R.B.I. Baseball experience. There isn’t anything flashy; I mean you can be any team you want from 1990 and any playoff team from 1983 until then. When you get on the field, you will find a lot of similarities to the previous RBI games. No team names, no real stadiums. Everyone plays at Tengen Stadium. Like I said, this game is pretty much “R.B.I. Baseball 2 goes 16-bit.” After the game is over, you get a line score, your record, a password, and a “Play (random Tengen game released around this time)” all in the fashion of a newspaper.
This is a game you can play with your dad, and it won’t take you two hours to describe the controls to him. Also, the AI is rather dim-witted, and the game can get rather lopsided, not too dissimilar to the way it happens in Joe Montana Football. One thing that can increase the difficulty is that there is no visible mark on the diamond map to where a fly ball is going to land, so you are going to have to figure out which player to use on the fly.
In general, I would say that this is a good game, but there are other R.B.I. games that are better. You will certainly get from it the two or three dollars you will pay, so I say it’s worth it.
R.B.I. Baseball 4
R.B.I. 4 opens up a lot more excitingly (even if there is no sound) than the previous games, with the R.B.I. Baseball logo being hauled out over an aerial view of a generic stadium. Cool beans, and it only gets better than that. There are numerous new options now such as Home Run Derby, Stadium Tour, Play all Teams (like in previous R.B.I.’s), Play Division and Game Breakers (situational play, and it’s actually really fun). This game also uses what seems to be an updated engine and that’s nice. The player’s look like real size players, the fielding is more realistic (still move everyone at once with the D pad) and there actually is a NES-like play-by-play. The real stadiums are what do it for me; I really like it. They also have little in-game videos, like a close sliding play and two players giving high fives when there is a huge play.
Sometimes the stadiums with the big walls (the Green Monster in Boston and the Hefty Bag in Minnesota) are somewhat difficult to hit home runs in for some reason, and it seems like the ones that do go out are the ones that are still going with a lot of steam when they get to the wall. The scaling is good too, and they finally got rid of the “ooooOOOOOOOoooo” sound when there is a pop fly. The scaling of the ball is really nice, and you can see the laces on a high fly ball. Overall, I say this is the best game out of all of the R.B.I.’s I have ever played. Pick it up for the three bucks that it costs.
R.B.I. Baseball ’93
R.B.I. Baseball ’93 has a cool box, but other than that, there isn’t much difference between it and R.B.I. 4. I was really kind of put off about that. The only thing of note that I can see is that there is new music and a new “jumbotron” home run celebration thing. And they still have the lines between first, second and third! This game is okay, you know, but it’s only because R.B.I. 4 was good. The gameplay is exactly the same, but the rosters are different. I don’t really mind the game, but if you are looking for something completely different, you are in for some bad news. Only buy this one if you are collecting all of them or you can get it in a deal… or if you don’t own R.B.I. Baseball 4.
R.B.I. Baseball ’94
Before I put this game in my Genesis, I thought that it would be exactly like the previous two entries: nothing realistically except for roster updates. Wow, was I wrong. Besides being played on the same engine as the preceding two games, R.B.I. Baseball ’94 is almost completely different. The animations are completely smooth now, there are new in-game videos such as an argument with the umpires, the coaches talking to you, and an actual high five rather than two guys slapping elbows like they did in the previous ones.
Besides that, you can now know the pitcher’s stamina thanks to the stamina bar. Before you just had to wait for them to start panting before you knew you had to take him out. There is new music too, and a new theme song. The previous intro screens were silent. I really like this game, but I get the feeling that by this time it may have been too little, too late.
Another new feature is that they included the new (at the time) divisional system, and they included the two new expansion teams Colorado and Florida. There are plenty of new options too. For example, you can practice your defense (which you will need if you decide to play manual defense). You can also play pickle with the computer, but the computer is freakin’ amazing at it, and there is little room for error. It will most likely beat you senseless. But it’s still neat to play, even though the game will insult you and call you a sucker. Buy R.B.I. Baseball ’94 for what it is worth. It’s the best looking of the series and easily the most fun. Even though this game arrived too late to save the R.B.I. franchise, it is totally fun and should be a part of any Genesis sports fans’ collection.
R.B.I. Baseball ’95
One of the last and most rare of 32X games, R.B.I. Baseball ’95 is really hard to form an opinion on. I have never played it, the only YouTube video on it is pointless and irritating, and it takes a great deal of time to find what little information there is about this game. Consider this title the “holy grail” of R.B.I. games. Pick it up if you see it for a fair price, but you knew I would say that by now, didn’t you?
Here is an outside opinion on the game, and here is a YouTube link to some video footage (the audio is really annoying, I warn you, no seriously just mute it). Just check it out for yourself. Obviously it didn’t light the world on fire or anything, but the graphics on the video look nice.
Overall, the R.B.I. Baseball series is a landmark in sports gaming that left its personal mark on the Genesis but tends to get overlooked by the majority of gamers. If your looking for a solid decent baseball game for Genesis, you cannot go wrong with the majority of these games. So, pop one of them in and sit back and enjoy. Its time for some R.B.I. Baseball!