Review by Dragon

Reviewed: 01/01/04

*punch opponent* *opponent gets up* *punch him again* repeat for fun.

Arch Rivals was released by Midway in 1989, introducing a new aspect to basketball games. Fighting! Yes, in Arch Rivals, you have the ability to punch out your opponents to steal the ball. But at the same time it makes the game more challenging, because instead of normal playing, you have to run more often from opponents attempting to knock your lights out, and trust me, it happens a lot when you first play this. It has also been said that this was the predecessor to the ever popular series NBA Jam. But that still has mixed opinions. Okay, enough of my rambling, lets get on with the aspects of the game!

When you first start the game up, you will see a Match Up between Los Angeles and Chicago. But you can change the match ups by pressing the A button. You will find that it has two other teams, supposedly High School teams, named Brawl State and Natural High. You can continue pressing A to get six different combinations of match ups. This game also has two player, which you can choose by pressing the Select button. Once done, you can choose the player you want to control. But somehow, the same 8 players will appear on whatever team you choose to play with. I guess they skipped college and went right to the pros? Anyway, some of them have nicknames, such as Mohawk, Hammer, and Moose, while a few others use their real names, like Reggie, Tyrone, Vinnie, etc. The least they could have done is make different names for each other. They each have their own characteristics that supposedly make them better. Example: Tyrone is a top shooter, Hammer is the rebound king, but I really have not noticed a difference in performance.

Finally, you will get to the game. You will start in the middle of the court, getting ready for the tip off, just like any respectable basketball game. After the tip off, you will pretty much do regular basketball stuff. But I have noticed how you never get an air ball in the game, no matter how far you shoot. They must have some killer aim. But for some of the other people, this can be seen as a good thing. Another annoying thing I found was the animation they show after every basket. It always shows how many points you got, written on top of the picture ''Two Points'' or ''Three Points'' and the coach looking like an idiot, yelling to his players it seems, or a cheerleader cheering. There is not any way this can be skipped, and I believe it really messes up the flow of the game. Thank goodness modern games do not have this. But really, this is almost all I can think of when it comes to the game play, since it is not very different from playing normal basketball, with the exception of boxing of course, but lets get to the other stuff involved.

Graphic wise, the game is nothing special. It looks just like any other NES basketball game, except the creators seemed to experiment with colors, and they don't look good. A few examples would be how the referee is wearing bright green pants, or how everyone in the crowd has on whether sky blue, light purple, or bright green. Looking at it again, Midway must have a likeness to bright colors. However, I don't. The basketball also looks just like a peach. I guess they neglected to put the traditional black stripes on it. Oh well, nothing big. Also, pausing the game would reveal that their eyes do not have pupils on them. Okay, I think I am just nitpicking now, but like I said, the graphics are not anything special.

The controls seem simple enough. On offense, A to pass, B to shoot. Also similar to other two on two basketball games, you can control your team mate, by pressing the same buttons to make him shoot or pass to you. On defense, A to block, B to punch. Yay punching! Punching is especially fun when you just stand there, waiting for him to get up so you can punch him again. That is just plain hilarious. But a few things I don't like about the controls is the looseness (am I using the right term?) of the controls. You seem to slide every which way. Though you can run faster than your opponents, which can make the game a little too easy.

However, the sound and music in the game is also similar to many NES games, with a limited soundtrack, so it just plays, and then repeats about every 10-15 seconds. I recommend your own music. Because I think they sort of messed up on the sound factor. The only time the sound really plays is when the coach's are talking in that annoying animation, but instead of chatter, it just plays music, so unless that coach is a radio, something is wrong here.

Despite these flaws though, this game has some good replayability. You can play a two player match, and you can also play virtual boxing with the other players, which can be damn hilarious. But I wouldn't get this game just for boxing though. Since it is a basketball game.

Overall, Arch Rival: Basket Brawl! is a game that concentrates more on the gameplay than the other things such as graphics and sound. The gameplay is the only thing that saves this game from the flaming depths of hell. Which is why I give this game a 5/10.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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