Game Title: RBI Baseball 17
Developer: MLB Advanced Media
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 2.45 – 3.5 hours
Download: 3.4 GB
Baseball games on handhelds have been pretty rare these days, and are more rare than they used to be. The last baseball game I reviewed was MLB 15: The Show for the PS Vita and, since then, no new MLB The Show games have hit Sony’s handheld system. Even more troubling for baseball fans is that MLB 15 is no longer on the PlayStation Store so you can’t even buy it anymore, due to it being a digital-only title.
So, where does that leave us? You’ve got Baseball Riot on PS Vita from 10 Tons Games, but that’s an indie puzzle game, like Tennis in the Face. In Sports Fans eyes, it’s not a real baseball game or a baseball sim.
The answer is on the Nintendo Switch. From MLB Advanced Media, an official partner company with the MLB, itself, released its most recent RBI game on the Switch, which had previously released on the PS4 and other consoles. Being the only real handheld baseball sim to play, we should take a look.
Here is my review of RBI Baseball 17 for the Nintendo Switch!
Due to this game having no story, this section shall remain blank.
RBI Baseball 17 is an arcade-style baseball game. Much like the PlayStation franchise, MLB The Show, you go into baseball games and simulate as you have for years, with controlling batters trying to hit and score and pitchers that try to strike out as many players as possible.
The first thing we need to look at is the first thing that the game will disappoint you with: Game Modes. When you go into the game, you have 3 Game Modes to choose from, but in reality, it is only 2 game modes disguised as 3. You have Exhibition, which lets you play a single game, and Season / Post-Season, which lets you play through an entire season of games with the options of doing 25 games or 16.
But don’t let the game fool you. Season and Post-Season are the same game mode with two different names. You get the same menus and the same games when you play either mode, so you may as well not even have Post-Season as an option.
Now, when diving into a game, it’s pretty straight-forward. You can either simulate the game, which automatically skips the game and uses AI to decide the score, or play the game. When playing the game, you go back and forth between the role of a Batter or Pitcher, so you hit incoming balls or throw the incoming balls.
Of course, you do occasionally swap roles. When the opponent hits a ball you throw, you control the nearest player to where the ball is going to try to catch and toss it, but you mostly play as the Pitcher and Batter.
And that’s pretty much it. My biggest complaint is the lack of features. I compare the game to MLB The Show 15 for PS Vita, which came out a few years ago and, even then, was feature-stripped compared to the PS3 and PS4 versions of that game. Despite being stripped of features, it had a ton of features and options that RBI doesn’t have, like Custom Characters, Home Run Derby, Playing Real Games, and more.
The most prominent feature missing in RBI is Online Multiplayer. The game definitely supports local multiplayer when you go into Exhibition Mode, but the long-awaited Online Multiplayer Game Mode that was added to other consoles back in March of this year is nowhere to be found in the Switch version of the game.
That’s about all I can really say about the game’s gameplay. The control style for the game certainly had a learning curve to it when it comes to knowing when and how to hit and throw balls, but all baseball games are like that. I found it no different from learning how to feel out playing the MLB The Show games.
Since this is also a sports sim, length is hard to gauge. But, let’s talk about a typical Season in Season or Post-Season Mode. One Season uses up 25 games in its default setting. A single inning normally takes around 5-10 minutes or so, depending on skill. So, we clock that as around 45-90 minutes per game. Throw in 25 games and that’s a minimum of around 18-20 hours for a single season. If doing a whole season is your definition of finishing the game, it’ll take you quite a bit of time to do so. While there is no real end-game reward for doing that, it’s difficult to see any other way of “beating the game”, since that’s all you can really do.
The control scheme for the game is pretty simple and clear, considering the game shows you how to do pretty much everything via on-screen tutorials as you get to various scenarios as you play the game. Plus, you can reset the control tutorials in the Options if you ever forget how to do something.
The Left Analog Stick is used for moving your character around to set up your pitches/swings as well as to angle those same actions once you start them. The L and R buttons allow you to substitute players or see player info from the other team. Finally, the face buttons are used for either stealing or throwing to bases, while B is used for throwing the ball or swinging.
All in all, it’s pretty simple.
As far as graphics go, I don’t know what to tell you. We are getting to the point with the Switch where jagged edges sometimes are not even a problem to be looked at, but details. All of the character models and environments in RBI 17 look pretty flawless. No jagged edges anywhere. However, the actual detail of the characters and uniforms have much to be desired.
When you see a character mode, their shirt is plain white instead of having accurate uniform designs, and it just all around has basic detail to it. In comparison, games like Madden NFL 13 and MLB The Show 15 on the PS Vita, a significantly weaker handheld system, have a lot more details than this game does.
As far as performance goes, I have no complaints. FPS is good. Load TImes don’t take too long.
How do you gauge Battery Life for a sports game? Well, one thing is for certain. This version’s lack of Online does mean you can get by only using Airplane Mode when you’re in Handheld Mode. Here are my Battery Times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 46 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 54 minuts
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 24 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 38 minutes
Given this info, you can get up to three and a half hours of Battery Life out of this game. That’s not too bad, and with how bright the game is for Day Games, you can lower the brightness a good bit without worrying about not seeing what’s going on.
In conclusion, RBI Baseball 17 is a flawed game for all but newcomers to the baseball sim genre. While solid in gameplay, it has a lack of game modes, almost generic look to its graphics, and the online multiplayer from the other versions didn't make it over to the Switch. As the only recent baseball game on handhelds right now, it's not a bad time-waster, but not a great one, either.