The R.B.I Baseball series has had its ups and downs since re-emerging in 2014 and Nintendo system owners wouldn’t see the the series return until R.B.I. Baseball 17 on the Nintendo Switch. I’ve been following the progress of the series since then and I must say, R.B.I. Baseball 19 is the most fun entry to date.

I’m a huge baseball fan and have dabbled in baseball video games before — Bases Loaded on the NES / Game Boy and then again with Ken Griffey Jr. on the Nintendo 64. After playing 10+ hours of R.B.I. Baseball 19, I can say it has successfully hooked me on baseball video games again. The game is by no means perfect but it executes the gameplay so much better than previous entries. Each time I thought to myself: “I wonder if I could do a bunt single, or do a hit and run play, or steal home, or do a ‘suicide squeeze’ play” — the game would allow it. It was really cool to successfully pull off some of these more advanced baseball maneuvers in-game. I found myself playing the game quite regularly each evening. The game even has a great soundtrack to boot.

In addition to the gameplay feeling tighter — the visuals and animations are much better. Players will dive for hard-to-reach grounders or fly-balls. In the case of grounders, sometimes they’ll even throw from their knees ( real MLB players do this on occasion if there’s a speedy runner). The batting animations for each player looked pretty spot-on. I follow the Atlanta Braves and I could tell the batters and pitchers just from how they stood in the game. Kudos to MLBAM for adding such detail. Another thing that helps this iteration succeed is the fact it’s releasing during Spring Training. I have baseball on the mind since the season is just around the corner so being able to launch the game in time for the regular season is paramount. Both R.B.I. Baseball 17 and 18 released several months into the season (17 released in September basically missing the whole baseball season while 18 released in June).

My main issues with the game relate to performance in certain areas. The Home Run jogging animation goes into a weird blur-effect vignette that runs at a low frame rate on the Switch. It’s very jarring to watch so I just end up skipping the cutscene. This is a shame because I want to celebrate those home runs. The same sort of performance issue occurs during the Home Run Derby mode as well. When you watch the home run arc, it zooms out to show the full stadium and the frame rate looks awful. The batting/pitching looks fine but it really messed with my eyes going back and forth.

Also, I would occasionally experience some stuttering when an opposing team was pitching. There would be a moment where the ball would jump mid-pitch. It would also happen when a fly ball got near the outfield. I’ve gotten used to working around it, but it’s just not as smooth and consistent as it should be.

All this being said, I’ve had an immense amount of fun with R.B.I. Baseball 19 — something I couldn’t say of the previous entry. I have to give MLBAM credit for improving the game significantly for the 2019 version of the game. Some things I’d like to see in future iterations: streamlined performance in all modes (no stuttering or frame rate issues in HR Derby) and more acknowledgement of accomplishments — Singles / Doubles / Triples / Stolen bases, getting out of a bases-loaded situation with nobody scoring — maybe have some animations where the pitcher shows their excitement with a fist pump. The only thing the game celebrates are home runs and there’s so much more I’d like to see highlighted. Speaking of highlights, we need replays of amazing catches or hits, maybe even a way to do a slow-mo version of the replay too. For now though, if you’re a baseball fan, I would definitely recommend picking up R.B.I. Baseball 19 — you’ll have a lot of fun!