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R.B.I. Baseball 18: Improved, But Still A Long Way To Go

R.B.I. Baseball 18

R.B.I. Baseball 18: Improved, But Still A Long Way To Go

If there has ever been a series I have rooted for more than R.B.I. Baseball, I’m not sure what it would be. Baseball needs a good product on every platform and with MLB The Show on the PS4 being your only option, you are limited as a Nintendo or Microsoft console owner.

It also goes without saying that R.B.I. Baseball has been a bad to terrible series thus far. Also it is worth noting R.B.I. isn’t supposed to be a sim, it’s an arcade baseball game that resembles the retro games of old (and coincidentally, MLB The Show 18’s retro mode).

So with all that said to give the backdrop for where R.B.I. Baseball 18 has come from, where is it at now?

What I Like

  • The Improved Visuals/Animations – MLBAM did a great job with these this year. R.B.I. Baseball 18 was promising some improved visuals and they were delivered upon. The batting stances, animations and stadiums all look pretty good. They don’t quite compare to the competition — but the progress here is huge over last year. That’s a huge compliment to how far the series has come in the last couple of years.
  • The Control Scheme Is Simple – I have never had a problem with R.B.I.’s controls and this year’s is no exception. The ideas behind how they were executed is well thought out and you don’t feel like you are having to do anything too complex while playing the game.
  • Franchise Mode Is In – If you can stomach the loading times and the slog of a 162 game season, you can play multiple years. The mode is bare bones but it is here and functional. Don’t expect anything close to what else is out there, but the mode is a good and solid addition that hopefully leaves room for improvement in future years.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The Load Times – This is seriously bordering on the unacceptable level. I didn’t time these, but they just feel…so…long both to get into a game and to move in between half innings. This takes away a huge chunk of the flow of the game and really makes getting through a full game feel like a giant slog.
  • The Fielding Controls Seem Sluggish – It may just be me, I really don’t know. But the fielding controls definitely feel like they are delayed somewhat and that can result in some misses, especially on sharply hit balls.
  • The Audio Is Ahem, Bad – The game just seems dead when you jump into it. I honestly thought that with the improved graphics would be an improved in-game audio package, even if it was just better crowd reactions and PA stuff. But that was skipped over and it’s too bad.
  • Typical Franchise Mode Issues – By that I mean, AI roster management and how contracts are handled, etc. is definitely going to need work either in patches or in next year’s game.
  • Static Camera Views – If you are someone that likes trying different views, you are out of luck.
  • HR Derby Is Limited – You can only play the mode in Nationals Park with only a few players, which takes away a great deal of variety you could have in the mode. The mode otherwise is fine — but the limited nature puts it in the negative column for me.
  • No Big Variation In Pitchers – I get some guys may throw faster than others, but you really don’t feel much of a difference in the best pitchers of the game and a commonplace bottom of the rotation guy. This feels like a missed opportunity of sorts to deliver a unique take on the retro version of baseball by offering up a new way to have pitching feel different based on who is on the mound. The way things are right now really does make each game feel similar after you’ve played a handful of games.

Final Verdict

So here’s the deal with R.B.I. Baseball 18 in one simple phrase: it’s improved, but it’s still not where it could be.

The improved graphics are great, but the loading times are seriously something I hope gets fixed in a big way. The game feels like it’s a pick up and play type of game but behaves much differently.

The gameplay itself is simple and it’s arcade, and even with those two words I feel like more could have been done to make the gameplay more interesting and exciting while keeping the retro idea alive. The addition of franchise mode is welcome, but it’s going to take some work to move through all 10 seasons the game will offer you.

This is the type of game where if you are baseball starved you can look at it, and you may actually enjoy it a bit, but it’s not going to replace any of the heavy hitters in our genre for this year at least. R.B.I. Baseball 18 is an average arcade retro sports title that takes no real risks, but also in return doesn’t deliver any huge thrills.

I do hope MLBAM comes back in ’19 though, because progress has been made and I think the series has the potential for a pretty bright future.


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  1. Cheers for the review - I’m waiting for the switch version - hopefully it will contain same modes and stuff - the cut down franchise will probably suit the mobile format of the switch.
    really bummed the HR mode is so limited........ shame as it doesn’t seem like opening up the mode would take masses of code or be that complicated. 
    So many times games fall down with not including simple options....... is it a case of not talking to gamers?? I really don’t understand. NBA playgrounds is one that with a few simple additions - none in game play - that would have taken that game to next level 
    Nice review! Thanks for this.
    Glad to hear that it's an improvement. That's all we can ask for since this is the only baseball game that we can enjoy on the Xbox One. Let's hope they continue to add and improve on the game. Make it accessible to both arcade and sim baseball fans.
    Good review...
    My two cents is that I can easily recommend this game to a Xbox-only gamer who is a big baseball fan (and I didn't like '17 AT ALL).
    The models look different enough that it feels like you are batting with Altuve or Judge. The gameplay is solid (although I've gotten some framerate stuttering on fast hit balls with multiple people on base), most notably I was pleasantly surprised by the hit variety.
    In the end I wish they had done just a few things to make this version even more FUN: Legends in exhibition mode, more dynamic sounds (organ music, crowd, PA), a customizable playoff mode where I can handpick the participants, maybe replays for big moments (robbed home runs or walk off home runs) or even cutscenes for bang-bang plays like a close out at first base or home plate (think SNK Baseball Stars 2).
    Game is so much better, however, pitchers do feel the same as well as hitters.  I remember playing and two or three guys would always get a hit or two or three guys would throw 100 plus.  I liked the exaggerated players in original back in 90's.  also, it used to be the most strategic game I ever played.  You only had 4 pitchers and once they got tired you were in trouble.  Heck I wish  it would carry over to next game.  Real baseball is boring, this is what separated  RBI.  Quick fun, yet strategic with simple pitchers get tired.  Also the fact that we would argue over teams because one guy alway hit a hr was the best.  With this game, it's good.  Hate the replay after hr, you don't need one, don't need announcer, don't need camera angles, don't need camera to change after hr, give me some suspense while it is going in air towards fence.  Next year just give us a hefty create team  and logo,  change players names and appearance. This  I will put over top.
    I have not yet picked the game up, sorting through the various comments, reviews, and criticisms. I think the new generation of gamers may feel frustrated by how the game looks, plays, and simple controls. I think the intent is to give it a retro look and feel and not to have the best presentation of a game available. The comment above about having the players pitch and hit differently is spot on; that would bring much more appeal to the game for everyone, old gamers like me and the new ones. For an Xbox One guy, it's this or essentially nothing with real teams and players. So, the bottom line is, is the reward equal to or greater than the $30? Love to hear any opinions.
    Would you recommend this game for a 6 year old? I assume the Show is far too difficult. Was hoping a demo is available but do not see one.
    I would easily recommend this for a 6 year old given the fun factor. 
    However, PLEASE note that the "Easy" difficulty in this game is easily Medium there really, truly is NO Easy difficulty.  Perhaps this is something the developers may address, but probably not as they have insisted that is is a Simulation Retro game, NOT an Arcade Retro game. 
    Other than that, if the kid is a baseball fan, it's great.  I've played traditional sims for 20 years and don't have time to invest in the complexities of those games anymore.  So this is perfect for me plus RBI Baseball was the first game I got on my NES in '88.    This is the game that RBI Baseball '14 "should have been" when it reemerged on the scene.   Worth $30, IMO, unlike last year's offering, which IMO was terrible. 
    It's funny to me how RBI on the Nintendo had more simulation qualities than this reiteration on today's hardware. People can always try to reinvent the wheel but the bottom line is that no matter how you do it, if it isn't round, is not going to work.

Executive Editor.

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