Arch Rivals is a belt-scrolling basketball game developed and released by Bally/Midway for arcades in 1989.
An arcade-style, two-on-two adaptation of the sport of basketball, Arch Rivals speeds up the pacing while removing most of the sport's rules, including most of its numerous fouls and violations. One of the major selling points of the game is the ability to punch opponents as a means of stealing the ball from them (with the taglines "It's a BasketBRAWL!" and "No harm, no foul!"). Its game style was later improved upon with the 1993 spiritual successor, NBA Jam.
The game was later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in November 1990, and to both the Sega Genesis and Sega Game Gear in 1992. The NES version was ported by Rare and published by Acclaim, while the other two versions were ported by Arc Developments and published by Acclaim's Flying Edge brand.
Similar to other Midway arcade games at the time, Arch Rivals was included in numerous compilations throughout the 2000's, including Midway Arcade Treasures 2 (for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube), Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play (for PlayStation Portable), Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition (for PC), Game Center USA: Midway Arcade Treasures (for PlayStation 2), Midway Arcade (for iOS devices), and Midway Arcade Origins (for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3).
Along with moving around the screen with the joystick, players have access to two buttons: Pass (White) and Shoot (Red). These buttons perform different actions depending on ball possession:
- If the player has the ball, pressing the Pass button causes them to pass the ball to their teammate, while pressing the Shoot button causes them to attempt a jump shot (or a dunk if close to the basket). The Pass button can be held down, leaving them unable to move (due to the "double dribble" rule), and pressing Shoot while in this state instead performs a "Fake-Out" jump shot.
- If the player's teammate has the ball, pressing either button causes them to call out plays ("Pass It!", "Over Here", and "I'm Open" for passing and "Shoot It!" "Put It Up!", and "Let's Go!" for shooting), forcing their teammate to either pass or shoot.
- Otherwise, pressing the Pass button causes the player to throw a punch in an attempt to knockdown their opponents (causing them to drop the ball if they possess it), while pressing the Shoot button causes them to perform a jumping block (both for attempting to block an opponent's shot and for getting a rebound from a jump shot). The Pass button can be held down, and pressing Shoot while in this state causes the player to perform a leaping lunge (which steals the ball from the opponent if done right, but causes them to tumble to the floor otherwise).
Teams & Players
The game includes four fictional teams by default: Chicago (red/white), Los Angeles (blue/gold), Natural High (green/white), and Brawl State (purple/gold). Each match starts with a random combination of teams, and can re-shuffle the teams as long as they'd like.
In the Arcade version, arcade operators can use the "Hometown Heroes" feature to change both the names and colors of each team. Other color combinations include blue/red, black/red, black/orange, black/gold, black/gray, black/white, purple/white, green/gold, purple/gold, and red/gold.
In the NES version, the Away jerseys for all teams is white. In the Genesis and Game Gear versions, the colors of all teams are randomized (red/white, blue/white, green/white, gold/white, and purple/white), with no separate Home jersey.
In all versions but the GG port, each player chooses one of eight fictional basketball players to represent them:
- Blade - A Crowd Pleaser
- Hammer - Rebound King
- Lewis - Top Shooter
- Mohawk - Tough & Mean
- Moose - Real Champ
- Reggie - All-American
- Tyrone - Defensive Giant
- Vinnie - A Great Player
While each player has their own description, it is unknown whether it affects their actual stats. Additionally, the game's high score tables are separated per-player.