Baseball season is here, and there’s a new edition of R.B.I. Baseball to play on your iOS device. R.B.I. Baseball 16 maintains the style of a baseball simulation with the 2016 schedule and rosters officially licensed by the MLB. You can play the 2016 season with your favorite team, and dive into the complete game of baseball with batting, pitching, fielding, and base running. R.B.I. Baseball first hit iOS for the 2014 season, and it wasn’t worth picking up in in its initial form. Last year, the developers fixed a few issues, but the game still wasn’t one to recommend. For 2016, there are some more fixes, and now the question is whether or not this is the year the game is finally worth picking up.
R.B.I. Baseball 16 does let you play a full game of baseball on your iOS device with an accessible style, and quick flowing gameplay. It’s easy to pick up and play with the virtual controls, but there’s a difference between playing and succeeding. Anyone can play R.B.I. Baseball 16, but it takes quite a bit of skill to time up a pitch, position your hitter, and try to put the ball into play. Pitching is relatively easy, but hitting can definitely be a challenge on the standard medium difficulty. The simulation aspect dictates the gameplay to the point that you need the pitcher to become tired to string together hits in an attempt to score. You can play the same exact way in the first inning and the sixth inning, and the hits come so much easier in the sixth as the pitcher wears down. Part of that is the simulation aspect, but it makes the game relatively bland and unenjoyable at times.
R.B.I. Baseball 16 has some arcade aspects in the pacing, but definitely not in the hitting. The game offers auto fielding to let the player simply watch the fielder, and then tap the base to throw to. Almost everything is designed for anyone to pick up and play, except for on offense. The problem is that offense is the most appealing aspect with the best potential for enjoyment. On the flip side, it does deliver the most challenge and require the most concentration. If you flip difficulty to easy, at bats become a lot more enjoyable, but pitching becomes even easier, and the opponent very rarely even gets on base. Games can definitely drag as you either have a tough time scoring with simple pitching and fielding, or an easier time scoring with even simpler pitching and fielding.
The biggest new addition in R.B.I. Baseball 16 is the ability to simulate games. 2014 launched without saving, and 2015 provided in-game saving, but no simulation. Last year, you had to play every inning of all 162 games. R.B.I. Baseball 16 lets you simulate a single game, or up to a specific date on the calendar to let you play whatever select games you would like. The in-game saving remains allowing for on the go gaming, to resume in the middle of the 6th inning, for example. The one missing aspect is the ability to simulate in-game, so you can’t play the first couple of innings, and simulate to play the last few innings. The feature would be extra beneficial to make up for the bland stretches. It would even be neat to simulate the pitching half of an inning to go back on offense, or simulate batting when you have a big lead and are going for a no hitter. Even without in-game simulation, R.B.I. Baseball 16 finally feels like a fully fleshed out game on iOS. It’s not perfect, but it actually lets you enjoy a full game of baseball across a full realistic season on the go.
R.B.I. Baseball 16 ($4.99, Universal) is the first year that we can actually recommend to pick up.