Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | PC | PS4 | PS5 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | XSX | All

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...

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.

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.

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!

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...

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...

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...

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.
- 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...

- The depth seems to have been kept to a minimum
- The challenge seems to be in ''Kindergarten Mode''
- GO IN BALL!!!! GO IN!!!!!!!!
SOUND - 6/10
OVERALL - 7/10

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

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by kingbroccoli [+]
Final Fantasy X (PlayStation 2) artwork
Final Fantasy X (PlayStation 2)

Final Fantasy X reached down a mighty, benevolent hand and pulled a faltering series from the tepid water in which it was drowning. Years of terrible indiscretions were forgotten in an instant, as the epic quest of Tidus and Yuna banished former Final Fantasy failures to the backs of minds everywhere. Earlier instalmen...
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! (NES) artwork
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! (NES)

Most gaming protagonists do not need our help, for they have been blessed with the skills, weapons, physique and mentality to win at all costs. They strut about the screen, preening and flexing and sneering dismissively at all who dare inhabit their personal space. Look at these heroes! Solid Snake’s only true obstacle...
NHL '98 (PlayStation) artwork
NHL '98 (PlayStation)

There comes a time in every reviewers life when he has to defy common sense, shut down a large portion of his brain and dive into the neon trash-can that is franchise sports. EA Sports is generally the main offender, churning out the same mindless rubbish year after year, and it just so happens that they are behind the...


If you enjoyed this Arch Rivals review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998 - 2022 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Arch Rivals is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Arch Rivals, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.