RBI 2 Baseball
Tengen's latest offering is RBI 2, a sports game that takes you to the baseball field to indulge in the great summery pastime that gets Americans very excited.
If the finer points of baseball are as totally incomprehensible to you as they are to me, fear not, 'cos there's a guide entitled Baseball For Idiots And Englishmen included in the package (along with a smart RBI 2 baseball cap, would you believe?). the computer version is a one- or two-player game and teams are selected from a list of 26 before the game begins.
The field is split into two parts, the outfield and the infield - otherwise known as the diamond, where most of the action takes place. At each corner of the diamond is a base - Home, First, Second and Third - and it's each batter's task to run between the four bases and so score a run.
The game is viewed from behind the batter, facing the pitcher. The pitcher stand on a mound of earth in the centre of the infield and tries to strike the batter out (i.e. force him to miss the ball). To this end, the player controlling the pitcher can choose the speed and curve of the ball as he winds up the shot.
If the batter hits the ball, the outfields come into play. It's their job to catch the ball and, as the batter runs around the infield, throw it back to a base and attempt to intercept him.
So there you have it, basically, each player battling and fielding in turn and scoring as many runs as possible. The winning team's success is splashed across the front page of the Baseball news and the losers are laughed off the pitch.
After a spell of okay-ish games, Tengen appear to have a hit on their hands - RBI 2 is great! Although I know as much about baseball as I do quantum physics, I picked the game up pretty easily.
The angst felt when my batter whacked the ball outfield and legged it for the next base kept me playing for ages, and the game is particularly good when playing against a chum. Graphically, RBI 2 is excellent; all the character sprites, although tiny, are brilliantly animated, especially the pitcher and batter. The only thing lacking is a decent league system.
Overall, it's pretty fab: playable, entertaining and pleasantly competitive. RBI 2 definitely scores a home run (see how quickly one picks up the terminology!).
It's not very often you see a baseball game on the Spectrum. The last one I can remember was, erm (think, think) World Series Baseball about six years ago and its gameplay wasn't too dissimilar to this (Not surprisingly; it's all baseball, isn't it?). What first impressed me about RBI 2 was the slick presentation and excellent music. I don't usually get my toes tapping to Spectrum music but I must admit that this was very good, complementing the logo scrolling around the screen perfectly.
So, it's all very flashy up front, but what about the game? Well, the smallish sprites do the job well and you really get into the swing of things, the close-up display giving a detailed look at the batting and showing where the ball is at all times. There isn't that much you can control in the game, though: other than pitching and batting, you can only control the direction the fielders throw the ball, and that isn't very taxing. But I'm not going to end on a moan 'coz I really enjoyed playing RBI 2 and reckon all sports action fans will too!
RBI 2 is a great game - but don't expect a simulation-type thing, just a very playable knockabout.