Overall Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
In the age when Nintendo put certain restraints on third-party developers creating alternative gaming choices for its Nintendo Entertainment System (thanks to the downfall of Atari, which had been caused by rampant developers rushing out sub-par titles to an already-inundated market), there was a modest little company called Tengen that released games with funny-looking cartridges. These titles, now legendary, were often classic and quirky, with a twist on the old Nintendo formula.
One of these games was RBI Baseball, a sports simulation with simple gameplayer, smudgy graphics, and the choice of actual Major League Baseball teams with then-current rosters. At first glance, it seemed to be a less glossy version of other baseball titles available. But, most importantly, was it fun?
How far we have come in the video game universe! This game was definitely not emphasizing its looks, which were far from spectacular. The players were more like Russian doll figurines without discernable hands; merely knobs and nubs for hands and feet. They did not run across the field; rather, they slid across the screen, in a two-frame animation that switched every second. Although some of the details were comical (the way a player winced when they made an error), overall, graphics were obviously not this title’s strength.
The original music soundtrack was catchy and spot-on perfect, setting the mood for a lighthearted game of hardball. The in-game sound effects were quick, sharp, and fitting, even if nothing entirely special. It was the type of sound that was parallel to good movie special effects: So good, you hardly notice, and it blends right in.
Baseball games had certainly been done before, even with an MLB license. All RBI Baseball did was put its own unique twist on the sports world.
Despite all its simplicity, RBI Baseball seemed to hone in on the precise formula needed for competitive, all-out fun two-player matches. Although games against the computer (including a season mode) were passable, the physics of the game were narrow and, with enough play, the A.I. was predictable and easily beatable.
But against human beings, where both sides utilized their unique pitch choices, creativity, and base-running decisions, this title truly shined. Whereas other baseball titles for the NES focused on glitz, glamour, and gadgetry, RBI Baseball laid low on the pageantry and just made itself a fun little game. Fun enough to earn three and a half stars out of five, in fact.
For a look at other fun NES video games, consider using NintendoLegend.com.