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Retro Rearview: Sports Edition - R.B.I. Baseball PDF Print E-mail
Written by ssj100matt   
Friday, 04 June 2010 10:28


That’s right im back with a LOOK BACK at another classic game. Once again I’ve picked a sports game.

Its June now and as we all prepare to kick off this summer of 2010, there are a few thing we Americans can appreciate. Beer, BBQ’s, trips to the beach and of course baseball. Many people know that I’m heavily into baseball (heck I work in it). I could spend all day and night talking about baseball but this is a video game site.


There have been many baseball video games made in the past 20 years. Most get lost in time and forgotten after the new version/season comes out. Very few of these games get remembered. One such game is R.B.I Baseball for the NES.

Throughout the article i will be examining the games history, development and its impact today. So don’t pull a Jim Joyce and miss the jump for this article below. :P



In its original form under the name “Pro Yakyuu Family Stadium” (developed by Namco and published by TENGEN) was released in Japan for the Famicom December of 1986. It quickly became a commercial success in Japan that spawned multiple sequels.

As you can see, there are very few differences between the original Japanese version and the US version.

In 1988 the games original designer Peter Lipson reworked the “Family Stadium” franchise and made it into R.B.I Baseball for the US NES system. At the same time Atari (parent company of TENGEN) released a translated version of “Family Stadium” in its Nintendo VS arcade machines titled “VS RBI Baseball”. This version of the game appeared in arcades around 1987, which was 1 year before the US home console release of RBI Baseball. Unlike the home version, “VS RBI Baseball” did not have the official MLB Players Association License to use real life MLB players. When it came time to release the NES version, TENGEN had acquired the MLB Players Association License. It was billed as, “The one the pro’s pick”.


The rosters in the game were that of the 1986 MLB season which included the World Series teams New York Mets and Boston Red Sox. The game tailored to many players strengths in the game. For example:

- St Louis Cardinal great Vince Coleman was the fastest player in the game. It was next to impossible to catch him stealing 2nd base.

- Oakland Athletic great Mark McGwire and recent Hall of Fame Chicago Cub Andre Dawson were the most powerful hitters in the game. Any ball that was hit somewhat well, was a home run.

- Pitching greats Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens were the most powerful pitchers in the game. They had the ability to throw faster than any other pitcher in the game.


- Other pitchers including Burt Blylevin and Fernando Venezualla (well know for their curve balls) had the greatest ability to move the ball around the plate better than any other pitcher in the game.

As you can see a great deal of time and effort was put into making each character to their proper MLB counterpart’s abilities.

Its Criticisms:

Not every game is perfect and neither was R.B.I Baseball. The biggest and most frustrating knocks against the game was its fielding controls. In most sports games of its time like Tecmo Bowl, Double Dribble and Blades of Steel where you control an individual player; R.B.I Baseball had you control the entire infield and outfield all at the same time.

After a ball was hit into the field of play, the user would need to move a player in front of the ball in order to catch/stop it. Because the user is controlling the entire infield and outfield this becomes hectic and difficult if a player misses a ball the first time. In other words if you want a player to turn right into a ball, your whole team must go right.


The video shows a player attempting to grab a ball that's bunted. Since the pitcher is the closest to the ball its only logical he should be the one to get it. Once the ball passed by the pitcher, the closest player to the ball was the Right Fielder that had to run a great distance to catchup to the ball.

This technical issue became a major problem that resulted in many hi score ball games (at least in my house).

The Sequels:

R.B.I Baseball had a tremendous amount of success in the US so it was almost a guarantee that TENGEN would release R.B.I. Baseball 2 for the NES. Like its predecessor it had the MLB Players Association License with complete rosters to all the MLB teams. The only difference as you can see in the video below, that TENGEN improved the batter and pitcher models.

This upgrade made the batter and pitcher animations look more fluid and life like. But also like its predecessor it still had the poor fielding controls.

TENGEN released R.B.I. Baseball 3 a short time later for the NES and the Sega Genesis systems.

Not only did the game once again come with the complete 1990 MLB rosters but it also included all the postseason teams from 1983-1989. No other Baseball game did this at the time and is still rarely done in games today. In R.B.I. Baseball 3 you were given a Season mode where you face every MLB team and every All star team in the game. Upon defeating all of the MLB teams the user would have to compete against a fictitious Japanese All Star team. The team included a roster filled with batters with maximum hitting stats and pitchers that threw un-hittable pitches. This was also the final R.B.I Baseball game made for the NES.

A year later TENGEN would release R.B.I. Baseball 4 for the Sega Genesis and Super R.B.I Baseball for the SNES. According to many fans of the franchise these were considered the best and most competitive versions of the game. The game came complete with the same features from R.B.I. Baseball 3 but with better fielding controls, more realistic player stats, replays after big plays and play by play called by legendary Hall of Fame announcer Jack Buck. The play by play calls were used on a limited basis and sounded very grainy for its time so I find it hard to believe that had Jack Buck voiced it.

The following sequels for the Sega Genesis would continue to bank on the previous games success for the release of R.B.I. Baseball 93 and 94. Slight differences were made during the development of each game. In R.B.I. Baseball 94 (my personal favorite of the franchise) the game included life like grainy photos of most of the players in the game. To this day I still laugh at Wade Boggs photo in the game.

In its final US curtain call, Time Warner Interactive released R.B.I. Baseball 5 for the Sega 32X system. The game tried to keep its original glamour but include more realistic animations like Segas own "World Series Baseball" series. The game succeeded in both respects but was highly overlooked since it was on the 32X. The pitcher and batter animations were done in a very ugly motion capture style. But never the less this would be final US R.B.I. Baseball game.

Impact Today:

The original R.B.I. Baseball still stands as one of the most realistic Major League Baseball game to date. So much so it still has a fanatical following that flows even within professional baseball players.

New York Yankee pitcher C.C Sabathia has kept an NES in his locker throughout his professional baseball career. The only game in it is R.B.I. Baseball and has become a pre-game ritual for him. He plays it before each game he pitches to “calm his nerves” where often times he plays against a fellow teammate. In an interview last year he had this to say.

Posted June 8th 2009 in the NY Journal News. Written by Peter Abraham

Justin asks: Have you ever thrown a no hitter in R.B.I. Baseball for Nintendo?

CC: “I have thrown … nope, a one-hitter is the closest I got. I’ve never thrown a no-no. One-hitter was the closest.

Follow-up question: “Who was the pitcher?

CC: “Clemens. Clemens was the guy. I use Bert Blyleven a lot. I’ve thrown a couple of one-hitter but no no-hitters. I’ll no-hit (Brian) Bruney before the year is over.”

Brian Bruney demanded the right to respond when he heard this: “No chance. It can’t be done. He’ll have to throw it over the plate at some point and I’ll hit it.”

In another story last year in the NY Daily News this was highlighted after a New York Yankee win.

Posted May 31st 2009 in the NY Daily News. Written by Mark Feinsand

If Sabathia was anxious about pitching in front of his old home crowd, it certainly didn't show before the game. While many pitchers prepare for their starts by listening to music or studying film or scouting reports on the opposing team, Sabathia spent his time before Saturday night's game handing Brian Bruney a beatdown while playing Nintendo's R.B.I. Baseball.

Sabathia - who used Roger Clemens and the 1986 Red Sox to beat that year's Mets in his win over Bruney - allowed three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out eight to improve to 5-3. In his last five starts, Sabathia is 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA.

"That's a good personality to have," Girardi (Yankee Manager) said of Sabathia's pregame preparation. "It means that he's relaxed and he's not overthinkng when he goes out there, not putting a lot of pressure on himself. He's the same guy every day."


Considering the Yankees won the World Series last year with the help of C.C Sabathia, its safe to say R.B.I. Baseball contributed to the Yankees championship season. :P


Even though there hasn’t been an R.B.I. Baseball released in the US within the last 15 years the series still continues on in Japan. Since the release of the first "Pro Yakyuu Famista", NamcoBandai has continued to release new incarnations of "Famista" to the public (in Japan). The series has appeared on many platforms including the N64, SNES, Playstation, Gamecube, GameboyAdvance, the PC and most recently the DS. The series lives on and still manages to keep its original luster (and music) as you can see below.





But it doesn't stop here.


R.B.I. Baseballs legacy also continues to live on in its online community. The site with the help of the folks from have been able to re-program R.B.I. Baseball to feature players from the 2010 MLB season. If you ever wanted to see what Albert Pujous, Alex Rodriguez or CC Sabathia would be like in R.B.I. Baseball, now you can. Both sites have online leagues where people can join and faceoff against other players via the internet. Be sure to check out both sites for links on how to download and play R.B.I. Baseball 2010.

Final Thought:

The original R.B.I. Baseball is still remembered as one of the great sports games of its generation. Throughout its sequels it always stayed true to the game of baseball and excelled in making the most realistic baseball game on the market. Many games have followed its model and have strived to make a more realistic baseball game. Very few have achieved this, which is why R.B.I. Baseball is still remembered to this day.

I leave you now with this last piece. Back in 2006 someone posted a video of an R.B.I. Baseball game that did a shot for shot, swing for swing remake of the dramatic New York Mets Game 6 comeback in the 1986 World Series. Everything from Wally Backmans practice swings to Bob Stanleys wild pitch, all the way to Mookie Wilsons game winning single between Bill Buckners legs were imitated for the video. Obviously this was pieced together through multiple games but never the less it was made very well.



I hope you enjoyed this look back at R.B.I. Baseball. Take care everyone and stay tuned for more Retro Rearview articles.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 June 2010 11:32

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