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Shit Games You Like Anyway: Arch Rivals
Apr 25th, 2008 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I know Arch Rivals is a poor game, but I don’t care. I can’t discuss it rationally. I think it’s fantastic. The night I got the replacement ROM from Andy at Ultimarc, so the Frankenstein-inspired control panel I slobbed together worked, I did nothing. NOTHING! Except play Arch Rivals.

You start off by picking your player out of a pool of, frankly, ridiculous losers. Everyone has tight shorts. There are even white people available, and it’s hilarious to see them segregated into the “rangy shooter” category (pretty much like real basketball). You’ll probably want to punch each of them in the mouth. You might think, when seeing the roster, that there is nothing for you there. But press on! You’ll grow to love one or two of them.

One button is shoot (or have your teammate shoot) and the other is “give me the fucking basketball” / “throw a punch.” It depends on whether you are on offense or defense. There’s only one other game of its era that did that (that I can remember). That was the hockey game “Faceoff.” One button was shoot and the other was “slug somebody with your elbow.”

My teammate almost never drives to the basket. So when he does and I feed him the ball and tell him to dunk its very rewarding. The computer will start hitting you as well, which makes attempts to dunk over the computer a lot of fun due to the revenge factor. The game doesn’t always let you dunk, and will sometimes force an awkward jump shot a foot from the basket. I think, in my heart, I know that this is a bad game because of the dodgy controls, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be in front of a jury defending it, but when you do pull off a good move (even though it’s at random) it’s still exhiliarating. 

After each score there is a cut scene. Sometimes it’s of a cheerleader, but it could also be one of the coaches. Or the crowd. There’s certainly no more than three dozen people who came to the game you’re playing in. There’s even shit on the court like popcorn boxes and other assorted garbage that leads to falls if you touch one of them. If they ever remake this game they should set it in the Superdome during Katrina so that they can depict some distracting murders and rapes. The detritus on the floor does lead to a little strategy: should you “set off” the trash so that you don’t run into it late in the game, when you may need a crucial possession? Or do you leave it there and hope the computer players run across it? I know it’s not like trying to decide when to use the A-bomb in Civilization IV*, but for a basketball game it’s not so bad.

Plus, the coach of my team looks like my dad:

* I know the answer to that one is “immediately,” but give me a free pass, I am new at this blog thing.

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