Game Title: RBI Baseball 18
Developer: MLB Advanced Media
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 2.5 – 3 hours
Download: 5.3 GB
Good baseball games on non-PlayStation platforms has been a bit of an odd and rare find for the longest time. The MLB The Show series that is exclusive to Sony’s platforms has a ton of features to it, even when it was still releasing on the PS Vita and PSTV, but as many handheld fans know, they haven’t released a handheld The Show game in a couple years now.
The RBI Baseball franchise’s revival was a big point of promise for non-PlayStation gamers and current-age handheld fans to get good baseball games to play. After all, the new RBI Baseball games are developed and published by the Club Owners of the MLB, itself. When you’ve got the MLB, themselves, making the game, you think it will be as close to the real thing as you can get.
Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch version of RBI 17 turned out to be a disappointment in terms of a lack of feature, both in terms of every version of the game and the content that was pulled out of the Switch version.
With another attempt now available to handheld fans, let’s see how they have improved. Here is my review of RBI Baseball 18 for the Nintendo Switch!
Due to this game having no story, this shall remain blank.
Like its predecessors, RBI Baseball 18 is an arcade-style baseball simulation game. Across the different game modes, you’ll be pitching, batting, throwing, and everything else involved in a typical American Baseball game.
First of all, let’s get into Game Modes available in this new game. RBI 17 was severely lacking in this department, having access to Exhibition Matches along with Seasons and Post-Seasons that allowed you to do little outside of playing games.
18 does have more available to it. We still have Exhibition, which can be toggled between Single Player and Local Multiplayer Modes. Season/Post-Season have also been expanded into Franchise Mode and Post-Season Modes. Additionally, we also have a Home Run Derby Mode, giving you limited times to get home runs, also available in Single Player and Local Multiplayer.
Franchise Mode lets you take a team and go through Seasons of games, not only playing the games, but also recruiting and trading players at any time, be it players from the current season or “Legends” from decades long past. Post-Season is a little different in that Trading is not possible, like it was in the previous game.
However, they’ve taken some content out of the Switch version. Once again, the Online Multiplayer Mode in the other versions of the game is not available on the Switch, meaning this is a game meant to be played alone or with someone sitting right next to you. Oddly enough, some of the beginning screens of the game mentions the Online, despite it not being in this version.
Now, as far as the actual gameplay, not much is different from 17. You primarily play as a Pitcher or Hitter and the options available to you are pretty limited. You only have a normal throw and a fast ball, so there’s not much you can do as a Pitcher, and with batting, you basically can either bunt or strike the ball, guiding it with angling the Left Analog Stick.
I can really see this coming down to the MLBAM wanting to make this as much like the original RBI games as possible, even down to having the same camera angles on-screen as the original did back on the NES. But, it feels like there’s just not much depth to the gameplay.
So, with content. it’s really the same as any other sports game. A full Franchise Mode could take hours upon hours with dozens of games to play through. At the very least, there is more to do here than the previous game, even with the Online Multiplayer being removed.
Controlling the game is pretty simple, just like the previous game.
You can move your player around their area with the D-Pad / Arrow Buttons or the Left Analog Stick. The L and R triggers can be used for Substituting players out for plays. Finally, the Action Buttons control what you do. B is used for Pitching/Swinging. and the other 3 are used for the bases aligned with those positions with stealing bases and throwing the ball to try to get an Out.
Visually, the game has improved a bit upon what 17 had. There are a lot more details on the character models and parts of the ball fields, but there are jagged edges around a lot of areas, even in Docked Mode. In one area of the presentation, there’s improvement. In others, not so much.
Performance is also an issue here. Not in terms of frame-rate, but in terms of freezing and hanging loading screens. The game hesitates and lags when going through most of its loading screens. Sometimes, though, it will freeze and get stuck in the middle of a loading screen. I’ve had several times when I’d be loading a game up in Franchise Mode and it would never load unless I closed out of the game and went back in.
This was an interesting part of this review. RBI 17 had decent Battery Life, and so does this game. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 41 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 46 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 00 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 05 minutes
This is interesting because it’s actually a bit lower than the times for RBI 17. Not by a lot, but around 10-20 minutes less on most settings.
In conclusion, RBI Baseball 18 on the Switch has certainly improved in some areas, while it has regressed in others. We have more game modes to choose from, but with online multiplayer being removed along with freezing issues and a less-refined presentation, it's not terrible for a handheld baseball game, but it's also not that great.