America's pastime. Butt-patting. A League of Their Own? Whatever word, phrase or movie may make you think of baseball, the sport has been played, changed, and even endured a lockout. But one facet has remained the whole time: it's fun to play, less so to watch. R.B.I. Baseball 14 [$1.99] is a modern take on what was a classic NES game almost thirty years ago. The original is known not just for being a fun game, but for being licensed by the MLBPA, which resulted in the first console game to use actual player names. Developed by MLB Advanced Media, this updated version stays faithful to the original.

If you're looking for a stat-heavy simulation, look elsewhere. R.B.I. is an arcade baseball game in every sense of the word, from pitching to batting to base running and fielding. It is also basic in terms of gameplay, allowing you to play an exhibition game, a full 162-game season (or shorter seasons, coming in at 81 or 52 games), or post-season. Playing a season takes you through a calendar-based set of games; there is no team management, no stadium upgrading, no training, just good ol' baseball.

RBI2

MLBAM did a decent job in bringing the game to life, with graphics that are nice but not outstanding. Animations are occasionally jerky. There is not much to be had in terms of sound or music, but that's also the draw of the retro feel. You'll hear umpires call you out, safe, announce double plays, and get excited for home runs, but there is no play-by-play commentary or player announcements. The roar of the crowd is constant, but can thankfully be turned down.

Playing a nine inning game can be as short as half an hour, if not quicker, depending on how well you play. There is no saving mid-game, but because they go so quick, it doesn't seem like a big issue. Teams appear to play just like they do in real life, with my home team of the Toronto Blue Jays getting beat -badly- by the New York Yankees. Although, the Blue Jays getting beat badly by any team is pretty much an accurate representation.

Pitching and batting are dead simple to perform. The stick on the left allows you to move your pitcher on the mound or batter in the box, and also doubles as pitch/swing direction. Moving the stick up or down will change your pitch from medium (standard) to slow or fast. One tap is all that's needed to send out a pitch or whack the ball (with a separate button for bunting). Stealing bases is as easy as double tabbing the window when you're at bat, and base running is accomplished by swiping along the diamond after a hit. You can substitute pitchers, but that's it in terms of management or customization.

RBI5

Fielding, in its current state, is very hit and miss. When you have standard fielding set (all controlled by you), it can be difficult to judge where your players are in relation to the ball. There is a ball height indicator (larger the shadow, higher the ball is), but the camera doesn't react quickly enough to allow you to get a bead on it, and oftentimes you'll miss a lot of non-pop flys because of it. It's basically the camera being unable to show your player in time to catch anything that isn't near that player.

The AI performs some questionable calls as well. During one game, my runner heading to second base was declared safe, despite the baseman having the ball before I got there. You'll notice the AI outfielders making catches when it looks like they're nowhere near the ball. Not even dive catches. The ball must have a large hitbox of sorts.

Since games can be played quickly, you'd think that there'd be someone sort of multiplayer component. Sadly, there isn't. No same-device play, no local or online multiplayer. Seems like such a shame that will hopefully be addressed in an update.

Achievements in R.B.I. Baseball 14 are varied, from winning via the mercy rule to getting five grand slams to striking out one thousand batters. In addition to their regular home and away uniforms, each team has a retro uniform that can be unlocked by completing a challenge. The Toronto Blue Jays, for example, can unlock theirs if you get eight strikeouts in five consecutive innings during a season game, while the Seattle Mariners require you to score four runs in an extra inning. There are leaderboards that track simply how many games you've won. There is no IAP.

Don't purchase R.B.I. Baseball 14 expecting a deep simulation, stat tracking or micromanagement. Do expect a terrific arcade style game that is simply fun and can be picked up and played whenever, that stays true to its source. Batter up!

TouchArcade Rating

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  • DeLtAg1An9O

    Wayward souls is coming out today or tomorrow?

    Because y'know, the idea was to launch before PAX 14, soooooooooooooooooo?

  • Larni69

    I was listening to BBC4 podcast 'More or Less' and an item said that the Base Balls had about 6 minutes per hour of actual sporting activity. The Crickets had about 10; but that is damning with faint praise.

    • Jake7905

      That sounds like a case of manipulative mathematics to me; the use of selective numbers to prove an opinion and issue an insult.

      • Larni69

        Could be. But the program's main reason for existance is to expose situations when stats are used in a manipulative way by politicians or psuedo science. It was a tongue in cheek article. They are a program with statistical validity, however as the BBC is not allowed to be biased.

      • Jake7905

        Since when is a Brit not biased against baseball?

      • Larni69

        Granted, Brits and most of the world are inherently against watching grown men stand up on grass but the program is based around using stats to make points or correct erroneous stats.

      • Jake7905

        ....and the biased opinion underneath the numbers is revealed.

      • icepulse

        Don't grown men stand on grass in Cricket?

  • Jake7905

    Though it's not perfect, it does deliver everything you could have hoped for in an IOS RBI Baseball adaptation. This game could have easily taken the paidmium/freemium route, as so many "name" games do, but instead we are treated to a premium (IAP free) game that's well worth the entry fee.

  • bug_a_boo

    Does this work with stellar controller?

  • curtisrshideler

    For me, 20-30 minutes is NOT a quick game. I'll pull out my phone before a meeting, waiting in line at Starbucks, and in the restroom. So I would have appreciated a mid-game save option and even multiple save files so I could play seasons as different teams and return to a game at any time. Then I'd play the game all day instead of maybe one full game at night.

    • thematrixx

      You can pause it as long as you do not close the app it will continue from where you left it so no biggie there

      • curtneedsaride

        Unless I don't want it running in the background and draining battery. I also regularly restart my phone, so I would have to change my habits just to accommodate a game that could have easily given us a better option. But yeah, I've done that for a day. Doubt I'll bother playing as much as I would have if there were saves.

      • jbaker1225

        Games do not run in the background and drain battery on the iPhone.
        It's state is stored in memory. It would actually drain the battery more for you to force quit the game and then reopen it an hour later than if you had just left it alone for an hour.

      • curtneedsaride

        Sweet. Good to know. Makes me feel better about using it. But, does that mean it's all in my head when I've got 40 apps open in the background and the app I'm using seems to lag or stutter?

      • Jason

        Yes, totally in your head. Having apps open in the background has absolutely no effect on battery life or performance.

    • Siveon

      Relative.

      I've played with many who consider 2 hours of Brawl a "quick game".

      • detourne

        Those people are likely children or unemployed.

      • Siveon

        Well, two was unemployed at the time.

        Was that truly necessary?

      • curtneedsaride

        Well, if I was unemployed and worked 6 hours a day looking for a job, I'd have a lot of free time to play games. Fortunately, though, I can afford these games because I'm working full time plus acting at night plus freelancing gigs on the side. So, quick play sessions are a must for me. Heck, I would've paid $20 for this on iOS with save files.

        Nothing personal against those people who are unemployed. But those of us working 2 or more jobs just can't play 2 hours at a time usually.

  • DtheGOPkiller

    Game

  • DtheGOPkiller

    I am personally disappointed with this game. I don't think it deserves a 4 star rating. But at lest it's not free to play pay to win. I better be careful though. I was banned for life from one of the mods for being critical of the game it the forums. No cuss words no disrespecting someone no put downs no nothing. Actually banned me for purely being critical of the game. Said I was negative. So unless you like a game don't comment.

  • worldcitizen1919

    I thought TA would give it a 4 as its a very good game. I'm enjoying it a lot.

  • DeLtAg1An9O

    I wonder where wayward souls goes

    • nomster

      All over the place. The clue is in their name. Wayward.

      • DeLtAg1An9O

        Lol

  • bug_a_boo

    I heard somedumbgamer likes baseball games and wearing women's underwear. He also Canadian.

  • Papa Deuce

    Because I am always wrong, this will be GOTW.

  • JP Falcon

    Am I missing something here, do you actually play out a season with only 3 starters and 1 reliever and a 4 man bench?

    • thematrixx

      Oh and it gets better! I can rotate between two starters(the same two) for every game! Guess their rubber arms do not fail! I for one regret the purchase...was expecting more depth but have wanted a new baseball fix to play on the ipad...guess my vita still has a purpose. Not denying it can be fun to play for a simple game but hardly worth the price...IMO of course!

      • JP Falcon

        I have to agree. A waste of 5 bucks....

      • DtheGOPkiller

        I agree.

      • JP Falcon

        Just to cap off my thoughts....I get it that this is an arcade game and one should look elsewhere if you want an OOTP

      • JP Falcon

        experience, but this is carrying the M L B brand so they should understand that an arcade game should at least have complete rosters and some basic stat tracking. What is the point of slogging out a 162 game season in this game if these basic components are not incorporated? Putting season play in this game is actually assinine because of all sports, baseball is more stat driven and that should have been respected even in basic form.

      • Papa Deuce

        OOTP exceeds my intelligence level.

      • Tim

        Agree, waste of $5, definitely not a 4-star game.

      • avs18fan

        You all have obviously not played an RBI Baseball game before.

      • Tim

        Actually I have, and the original is way better than this garbage. Though nothing compares to Bad News Baseball. RBI baseball was much faster than this game and had better controls. What happened to the D-Pad/A/B controls? They are easy, intuitive, no guessing. This game makes you swipe to steal (works 25% of the time), tap on a base to throw there, swipe to advance a runner. No one hits their cutoff man! And the game is slow!!!! Takes way to long to play a game, and doesn't even save the game if you quit. How is that 4 stars?

      • JP Falcon

        You are right, I haven't played RBI baseball before. The only difference that makes is that I would have already known that the game sucks and would not have bought it now.

  • DeLtAg1An9O

    Check this out guys, in the Facebook homepage of Rocketcat Games it says that, maybe Wayward souls will be released 17 of april, NEXT WEEK!!!
    I hope it happens and, if this post excited you a bit then you will have to say POTATO

  • DeLtAg1An9O

    :)

  • Brandon Bulmer

    RBI baseball is fun to play VS other people, but sucks VS CPU!

  • http://www.galleytech.com Galley

    They really need to do something about the creepy-looking batter on the icon!

    • Stormourner

      ROFL!!! X'D

  • Jason

    "There is no saving mid-game, but because they go so quick, it doesn't seem like a big issue."

    Um, no. That's a big issue, and I'd be happy to buy it after this is fixed.

  • joaquin_ondamoon

    I know it's an arcade game, but I'm hoping for a bit more depth in an update. The inability to save mid-game is horrible. I'd also like to be able to change my lineup pregame. Other than that, I like it for what it is. $5 seems about right: keeps it IAP free and hopefully gives the devs some money to keep improving the game.

    A lot of games lately seem to be coming out in a bare bones status, almost beta. Push the game out, collect some cash and try and finish the game. I'm not saying that's the case here - this is a nice game, and if it stayed just like this I'd be happy with my purchase. Just saying it seems to be a trend.

  • Mike

    The dude's face on the app icon looks like he has downs.

  • cloudland

    4 stars??! 2~2.5stars for me. Too simple and bad UI. Too expensible either

  • tekn0wledg

    Has anyone purchased this for iOS and a console? Curious what (if any) differences there may be. I'd likely wait for it to hit PS4

  • icepulse

    I'd love to see SNK's "Baseball Stars" make a comeback on iOS, with the arcade graphics and the NES team creation / stats / season features.

R.B.I. Baseball 14 Reviewed by James Paterson on . Rating: 4