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Arch Rivals (NES) artwork

Arch Rivals (NES) review


"Arch Rivals is an immensely enjoyable sports (basketball to be precise) game that was ported pretty well from the arcade game. Whilst it didn't offer the player much in the way of depth the real beauty lay in the sheer fun and mayhem of the whole thing, this game was the precursor for NBA Jam and is an absolute beauty to play. There's just nothing more satisfying than whacking an opponent in the back of the head and seeing him sprawled out only semi-conscious on the court... "



Arch Rivals is an immensely enjoyable sports (basketball to be precise) game that was ported pretty well from the arcade game. Whilst it didn't offer the player much in the way of depth the real beauty lay in the sheer fun and mayhem of the whole thing, this game was the precursor for NBA Jam and is an absolute beauty to play. There's just nothing more satisfying than whacking an opponent in the back of the head and seeing him sprawled out only semi-conscious on the court...

GAMEPLAY
The gameplay is very simple to get into and is quite a bit of fun, the no rules concept is one that almost everybody absolutely adores and this one nearly pushes the boundaries to the half-way point :P. The controls are simple, if you've got the ball one button would pass the ball to your partner and the other would cause your man to have a shot. If you didn't have the ball then one button was punch and the other was a jump, of course getting the ball back of your opponent was the funnest part of the game, chasing after the little blighters punching like mad is an insanely fun thing to do and one would never get tired of it.
The game was just a two on two game, you choose the team that you want (this is really a disguise for a simple colour selection :) and the player that you wished to control and off you want. The players all had different areas of expertise, one may be a good shooter whilst another would be rock solid in defence, then of course you've got your plain ol' bully who just wants to go out there and crack some heads open. Choosing one that suited your style of play made winning the game even easier than it needed to be. If you just can't seem to do anything right then at the breaks a few handy tips are displayed on the screen which just might improve your game.
At times Arch Rivals could prove to be quite irritating, since the odds of a shot going in are random sometimes you could just stand there hammering shots at the ring without even coming close, this is bad enough, but when the opponent steals the ball and scores with their first shot then it's REALLY steam out of your ears time. Another problem is the mode selection, there's only one and it's a normal game, not even a choice of difficulty, there should have been something added in there to give it a bit more extra depth than it had.
Overall, the gameplay is really best suited to those that prefer a very quick bash of action rather than those that like to put time, care and effort into their gaming. It's an enormous amount of fun (even more so when your playing a two player game) but there's not enough substance to the game to entertain for ages and ages.

GRAPHICS
The graphics were of a good quality without being too spectacular and flashy. There is a nice amount of attention to detail and the whole basketball scene has been recreated reasonably well. The crowd has been done smartly, the stands are pretty bare except for the odd litter or young spectator in the sidelines this means it's done simply without looking too shabby.
Up and down the sides of the court there are such characters as coachs, cheerleaders and even a tubby little umpire that will do nothing but hinder you if you run into the little worm. The players themselves have been done well, there's some nice variety in there all different types of skin colour, hair size and eye-wear is represented. The animations they perform are quite smooth and look all right. The players do tend to look a bit awkward at times as they move around but this a small and infrequent problem, nothing too big to worry about.
There's a few nice effects scattered throughout the game such as the shattering glass if you pull off a particularly hard dunk, there's also some little presentations put on for you at the half-time break. Plus, when your player shoots and scores you're treated to a little animation of a certain character, coach, cheerleader or perhaps spectator to keep you busy whilst the players return to the centre ^_^. There's just a lot of little things that made Arch Rivals so nice to look at and so very aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Overall, the graphics were a very solid effort and in fact quite a good job. There's only a couple of small bugs throughout the whole package and nothing to dent your viewing pleasure. Definitely no major complaints to be made about this section.

SOUND
The sound was of a reasonable quality, but there was a bit more room for improvement here. The background music consists of only one tune, and whilst it isn't a bad one it wouldn't hurt for a bit of variety now and then. This background tune that they've chosen is very easy listening and it takes a lot of repeat performances at the game to really tire of it. It doesn't assault the ears and isn't overly repetitive, not a bad choice but there still should have been more.
Sound effects are sparse in nature but are of a pretty good quality. When an attack was landed that ubiquitous punch sound that seemed to appear in every 8-Bit game will sound, this is the most common effect you'll be treated to when you're playing with the others being pushed more into the background. When a basket is scored then a little snippet of ''basketball'' music will play, this is certainly a nice little addition. Apart from these the other sound effects are a rather uncommon occurrence and will not trouble you too often. It wouldn't have hurt to put a few in surely.
Overall, whilst the sound is of a decent quality there isn't quite enough of it to warrant a higher score. It's atmospheric but only to a small extent and there definitely should have been an extra background tune or two to stop long-time players from going insane, otherwise...okay job!

LIFESPAN
As written above, having one mode really hurts the lifespan of this game. It can get very repetitive very quickly and one could find themselves getting sick of Arch Rivals in next to no time. The enjoyable gameplay has the potential to keep some players coming back now and again for stints at the game but the depth is not so deep and it means that the lifespan suffers. The two player games can add to the replay value of the game as the battles can be competitive and ferocious but eventually the excitement dims and you're just left with a useless cartridge at your disposal...

FUN FACTOR
The fun factor is very high, it's a no rules barred sort of game and there are very few people that can resist the appeal of that. Despite the aggravations that the game may have there's enough there to make up for them and give the player a huge amount of enjoyment most time that they play the game. If you're not into this style of game or humour then Arch Rivals may just confuse you, but if you're in the majority then you won't be able to put the controller down and stop screaming with joy, until everything wears thin and the lifespan runs out of course...

CHALLENGE
The challenge of Arch Rivals would be somewhere between easy and ridiculously easy. There is no difficulty selection and whilst you may be beaten the first two or three times you take on the computer players it should never happen again after that. It'll become so easy that you'll just end up testing yourself, going for a certain score and various targets like that, if you like being tested to the extreme then this game will just annoy you as the challenge is quite minimal. Of course if you really want a good challenge just go out and find another person and take them on, it's much more fulfilling than blasting away the CPYU countless and pointless times...

OVERALL
Despite being an immensely enjoyable game Arch Rivals does have some serious problems, a lack of depth and lack of challenge being just part of the situation. It was great for those that just liked a bit of mindless fun and whacking people in the back of the head. These days it's probably just best to sit back, look at it and say ''lookie there, it's an old type of NBA Jam, I bet it was pretty cool'' some people might still be able to get some kicks out of it now and again (I know that I have a bash at it from time to time) but the appeal can wear thin pretty quickly.
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GOOD POINTS
- It's an enjoyable, fun, and many other synonyms that mean the same thing, game
- If you're angry just punch a basketballer or too, don't be mean to other people :(
- Or you can just sit there and laugh at the little fat referee...

NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- The depth seems to have been kept to a minimum
- The challenge seems to be in ''Kindergarten Mode''
- GO IN BALL!!!! GO IN!!!!!!!!
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GRAPHICS - 8/10
SOUND - 6/10
GAMEPLAY - 7/10
LIFESPAN - 5/10
FUN FACTOR - 9/10
CHALLENGE - 3/10
OVERALL - 7/10

Rating: 7/10

kingbroccoli's avatar
Community review by kingbroccoli (April 25, 2004)

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