I’m a huge Baseball fan. I enjoy playing the game, going to games, watching them on TV, and even listening to them on the radio. However, I’ve never really been a fan of playing Baseball video games or any sports games for that matter. I enjoyed playing Bases Loaded way back on the NES and Game Boy but I haven’t played many Baseball games since then. As a fan, I’ll do my best to give you a detailed look at what RBI Baseball 18 has to offer.

RBI Baseball 18 is the second in the series to appear on the Nintendo Switch. Last year’s edition (Review here: https://purenintendo.com/r-b-baseball-2017-review/) was priced at $19.99 while this year’s edition goes for $29.99. Most of what they put into the game to justify that price increase is warranted I think–each player now looks more like their real-life counterpart and even their stance is pretty well reproduced in RBI Baseball 18. I’m a big Braves fan and I could tell each player’s stance was pretty spot-on. The visuals and presentation have all been improved across the board. Everything from the textures of the dirt and grass, to the crowd and especially the player models. You would think RBI Baseball 18 has a lot going for it already with those visual improvements, but it’s the gameplay that really needs help.

A video game should ultimately be fun, right? While it may sound harsh, I just simply didn’t have fun playing RBI Baseball 18. Every at-bat felt like a struggle to find the right timing to make contact with the ball, let alone get a hit. In the 9-inning games I played, I never once hit a home run and barely managed five hits in each game. The hitting mechanics just felt broken to me. It felt like even when my timing was perfect, it would result in a foul ball or a random popup. While the next at-bat would result in a ground-ball right at someone. It felt like my timing didn’t actually determine where the ball was going. It felt random and that’s definitely not what it should feel like.

The CPU-controlled teams didn’t have any problems getting hits–they kept hitting home runs and hitting with ease. I thought it might be a difficulty setting at first. I checked the options and the game’s default difficulty was set to ‘Medium’. So I flipped that to ‘Easy’ and it was still a struggle to figure out the hitting. It felt like there was input lag or something–like I was having to swing a tad early because the hitting animation was delayed. The fielding and pitching aspects were fine and fairly easy to pick up, but the hitting was just awful. And if the hitting doesn’t work, the whole game doesn’t work. One thing that might help in a future RBI Baseball game is adding a ‘Practice’ mode for hitting just to get used to it, although I think it needs a complete overhaul.

Another issue I had with the game was the overall sluggish UI and long load times. There’s just no reason the game should take almost two minutes to load to the main menu (yes, I timed it). Once you get to the main menu there was noticeable performance issues. Just browsing around the menu, the animations would freeze. This also happened once you selected a mode–you wouldn’t see a loading indicator immediately so it looked like the game hard-locked for three to four seconds before something happened.

While the game does feature a full 10-Season Franchise mode, Postseason, Home Run Derby, and more, it just felt like the core foundation (gameplay) of the game was neglected. Development for the game was handled by MLBAM (Major League Baseball Advanced Media) which produces the amazing MLB At-Bat app so hopefully, they’ll be able to improve the series with each new iteration. With RBI Baseball 19, I really hope they focus on the quality of the gameplay and making sure it’s fun to play. They’ve got the modes and the visuals are pretty solid–now it’s time to refine it. I honestly don’t think I would recommend this game unless there’s a steep discount or improvements are made.