Review by LeeAndrew8

"RBI Baseball review"

The time is 1987. The place is Fenway Park. Twenty-two year old Dwight Gooden was facing twenty-four year old Roger Clemens it what would go down in history as one of the all time great pitcher's duel. After eight innings both young guns had thrown a perfect game, no batter had even reached base. In the top of the ninth Tim Teufel slowly strolled to the plate. Tim fought off a few pitches before finally making contact, unfortunately the ground ball was easily handled by Wade Boggs and thrown to first for the first out. The next batter was Howard Johnson. Howard Johnson usually makes a great impact on a game, his bat's swath of terror usually blasts balls out of the park. However, this time up to the plate he popped out to the infield like his previous two at bats. Next Clemens was face to face with his opposing pitcher Dwight Gooden. The manager now had to make a decision. Do you take out the pitcher who has been perfect and bring in pinch hitter, Daniel Heep, who has had many clutch hits in his career? Or do you leave in Gooden and let his perfect game continue. The Mets manager opted to leave Dwight Gooden in and he grounded out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth it was the Red Sox turn to try and end the game. Dwight Gooden continued his roll as Rich Gedman became his 11th strikeout victim of the night. The next batter Spike Owen hit a deep fly but the ball was engulfed by Darryl Strawberry's glove. Once again it was pitcher vs pitcher. Clemens vs Gooden. The Red Sox had an even tougher choice than the Mets manager. Sitting on the bench he had Dave Henderson and Ellis Burks, two very capable hitters. But like the Mets in the top of the inning the Red Sox decide to leave in their ace pitcher. The Mets manager begins to think about whether Dykstra should try and bunt his way on base in the 10th, just assuming the inning was over with Clemens up to bat. But things don't always go as you plan. After going down 0 – 2, Clemens did the unthinkable, he hits a blast that disappears over the right field wall to end the game.

Suddenly Matt throws his controller in the air and screams “Yes! I broke up the perfect game AND won the game. With ROGER CLEMENS! HAHAHA”. No this game didn't happen in real life, it happened to between two friends playing RBI baseball. Unfortunately I was the Mets manager and I hung my head in shame. How could I let Roger Clemens hit a homerun off of Dwight Gooden?

Most boys from my generation or older learn to love two things at a very young age, sports and video games. So naturally it was just a matter of time before they made sports video games. At that point in time baseball was still America's past time. Before the strikes, before the steroids and before the 25 million dollar contracts baseball was still a traditional outing for a family. Baseball was a way for a father and son to bond on the weekends or during the summer whether it was going to see the local team play or just play catch in the backyard. It surprised nobody when baseball got the first video game of the sports genre.

The original Baseball game on the NES was okay. It had all your basics that you need in order to have a game of baseball. However, Baseball was very generic. Every player looked the same and every team was the same. The teams didn't even have names or abbreviations. The team names were simply A, C, D, P, R, Y. Those aren't team names, how am I supposed to cheer for the Ys? A, C, D, P, R, Y might cut it in the final round of Wheel of Fortune, but Vanna White can't hit a curve ball. What Baseball needed was a little character and a little bit more fun.

Then came RBI Baseball. As soon as you open R.B.I. baseball you can just feel you're holding something special in your hands. RBI Baseball sported a black case instead of the usual bland gray case and the top of the game was smooth and sleek instead of the normal square Nintendo cartridge.

Once you start up the game you immediately notice a big improvement in this baseball game. There are real Major League Baseball teams. It only has the team's initials like Bo for Boston and NY for Mets, but they are real teams. You can tell because once you start the game right there on the screen next to your batter it says the name of a real baseball player. So you had real teams with real players! It may not seem like a big deal today but at the time it was new and fun. I went from playing as unknown guy for team R and unknown guy from team P, to playing as Darryl Strawberry of the New York Mets and Wade Boggs of the Boston Red Sox.. The teams that were chosen to be in RBI baseball were the top 8 teams from the 1986 – 87 season. There was the California Angels led by Wally Joyner, Wade Boggs's Red Sox, the Tigers with Alan Trammel, Kirk Gibson, and Matt Nokes, Kirby Pucket and the Twins, Nolan Ryan's Astros, The Wizard of Oz and his St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants from the days of Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell, and my own personal favorite, the Mets featuring Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. There was also two All Star teams that were also filled with familiar names. Don Mattingly, George Brett, Cal Ripken, Jose Canseco, George Bell, Mark McGwire, to name a few, for the American League. The National League countered with Tim Raines, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Mike Schmidt, Dale Murphy, and Tony Gwynn. Each player also had a few of their stats to go along with each player so you would know which players are the best in case you don't know much about baseball.

Some of the other improvements came in the actual gameplay. The infielders and runners were a lot more controllable while in the original NES game they were controlled by the computer a lot. You could also now steal bases which was a necessary edition. In addition to your starters you also had bench players that you could substitute in for your starters, which seems like a no brainer but the original Baseball game had no substitutions either. In today's games players have all kinds of categories like speed, hitting, and power and each category has a ranking. These rankings decipher how good the player plays. The original Baseball game didn't have work that way. Every single character was identical like a team of Agent Smiths. RBI baseball was the first one that started the rankings. The players didn't have rankings you could view or edit but some players were definitely better than others. You're more likely to hit a homerun with Kirby Puckett than Dan Gladden. You're more likely to steal a base with Vince Coleman than with Jack Clark.

There are very few video games that are perfect and this game certainly is not one of those games. As much as I hate to do it, because I love this game, this is the part of the review where I have to bring up the negatives. Keep in mind though that these negatives weren't really things I noticed as I played them, they're just simply things that games have now, that RBI lacked. So maybe it's not really fair to point out these negatives, but oh well.

The biggest gripe for me is the physical appearance. Every single player is white skinned and the exact same size and apparently they didn't have steroids back then because every single player was very plump looking, very Mike Lavalliere-like. Some players should be short and fat, but some should be tall and skinny, some should be black.

The defense is also a little bit annoying. Once a ball is in play you can press left or right on your control pad to move your fielders. The problem is you move all your fielders at once. This isn't a bad thing if there's a pop up to the first baseman, you move your first baseman to catch it and everybody moves a little bit, no big deal. But whenever there is a single through the hole you're in trouble. For example, let's say there is a groundball hit between the first baseman and second baseman. The first baseman breaks towards first to cover the base and you are now controlling the second baseman and right fielder (as well as some of the fielders on the left side but they aren't important in this scenario). You press right on the control pad to try and get your second baseman to the ball but the ball barely gets past him into the outfield. Normally in a real baseball game the right fielder would then field it and throw the ball in. Unfortunately this is not the case in this game. When you press down right on the control pad to try and field the ball with your second baseman, the right fielder also moves to the right. Now your right fielder is over by the foul pole instead of in a position to field the ball, the ball rolls to the fence and the batter now has a double or possibly even a triple.

It's really nice that you are now allowed to make substitutions. If you've got runners in scoring position in the bottom of the 9th and the pitcher is up you're going to want to pinch hit for him. The substitutions still aren't perfect though. I usually play as the New York Mets and I'm a huge fan of Howard Johnson. So naturally I want one of my favorite players in the starting lineup. The problem is you can't make substitutions for your starting lineup before the game. So if you want Howard Johnson to play the whole game you have to way until the guy you want to bench comes up to bat, then substitute HoJo, then you're one bench player short because you used a pinch hitter in the first inning. The roster also isn't large enough. Sure the four pinch hitters are plenty but you only have four total pitchers. When you play a season, if you can call it that, you have to play several games in a row. Your pitchers get tired if they pitch a lot so a lot of times you run out of pitchers and have to play one for an entire game regardless of how tired they are. Speaking of the “season” mode, it consists of playing each team once. It's not like today's games where you play a full 162 game season, but I guess that isn't really possible with just 10 games.

It might seem like a lot of negatives but like I said most of these faults I didn't even realize when I originally played the game because games hadn't really evolved yet. When playing the game I had a blast and it just increased my love for video games and sports.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 05/14/06

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