Saturday 17 March 2018

RBI Baseball '95 (32X review)

Developer: Atari Games
Publisher: Time Warner Interactive
Released: 1995

RBI Baseball '95 is a sports game that's exclusive to the Sega 32X.

The 28 teams are only represented by their city name, but the game does feature an official MLB Players license. There's a large number of modes including an 80 or 162 Game Season, Home Run Derby, game-specific scenarios, and even an option to create your own teams. Offensively, batting has the usual pre-pitch options such as moving your batter (although only horizontally), and there's a satisfying thump when the ball is hit. Controlling each baserunner separately is great and the cool advanced options (such as taking an extra lead before each pitch) provides depth and strategy. There's even some humorous animations, such as when you hit a Home Run and the crowd start fighting over the ball! Defensively, pitching works fine, but without an overlay you basically have to guess where the strike zone is. If you throw pitches normally the CPU will destroy you, and the key to succeeding is to put a ton of movement on the ball; this is more 'Arcadey' than realistic (something I didn't enjoy), and it leads to cheap, cartoon-like pitches where the ball moves down, then up! Once the ball is in play the defense is perfectly adequate and the optional ability to have the CPU assist you before it comes into view is an excellent touch. Graphically, the behind-the-batter view features large, detailed sprites, but the rest of the players lack clarity and animation. The umpire audio is of decent quality (although a few wrong calls can be made), and the atmosphere is much better than World Series Baseball Starring Deion Sanders (1996, Sega 32X) due to the crowd noises and organ jingles.

RBI Baseball '95 is a playable sports game with some redeeming qualities, but it's also unremarkable in its gameplay, graphics and overall presentation. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, but there's also nothing that excites or innovates, and it's certainly no advancement over previous 16-bit baseball titles.

Random trivia: Bizarrely, the post-game stats feature an advertisement for Dick Vitale's "Awesome Baby" College Hoops (1994, Sega Genesis).

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