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Arch Rivals
NES cover art
Rare (NES)
Arc Developments (Game Gear/Genesis)
Acclaim Entertainment[a]
Designer(s)Jeff Nauman and Brian Colin
Programmer(s)Jeff Nauman
Artist(s)Brian Colin
Composer(s)Dan Forden
David Wise (NES)
Mark Cooksey (Game Gear/Genesis)
Platform(s)Arcade, NES, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Gear, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PC
Release1989 (Arcade)
1990 (NES)
1992 (Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Gear)

Arch Rivals is a basketball arcade game released by Midway in 1989. Billed by Midway as "A Basket Brawl", the game features two-on-two full court basketball games in which players are encouraged to punch opposing players and steal the ball from them.

Arch Rivals allows players to select from a variety of fictional teams (although arcade operators can change the team names to reflect real ones) and players. One playable character, "Tyrone" was also featured in the animated Power Team segments of the television series Video Power.[1] Home versions of the game were released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive as well as the Game Gear. Emulated versions of the game were included in the compilations Midway Arcade Treasures 2, Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition, and Midway Arcade Origins.

The game has been considered a forerunner to Midway's popular arcade basketball game, NBA Jam.[2]


In game screenshot
In game screenshot

Games generally follow standard basketball rules; a full game consists of four quarters, with four minutes each. Each team has two players, and the objective of the game is to outscore the opponent until the final buzzer sounds. A player can call for his teammate to pass him the ball or to shoot it in this battle royale. [3]

If the game results in a tie after four quarters, multiple sudden death overtime periods are added, in which case whoever scores the next basket will win the game. Every overtime period is one minute. If, however, no score occurs after overtime the procedure repeats.

The difference between Arch Rivals and other basketball titles is the ability to freely punch an opposing player without penalty and steal the ball away. The referee will only call shot clock violations. Also unique to the game are various on-court hazards such as soda cans and candy wrappers thrown onto the floor. If a ballhandler steps on those, he falls onto the floor allowing his opponent to steal the ball from him. Players could also fall over the referee in the same way as the objects on the floor, as well as steal the ball with a maneuver called the "flying leap" where the player would jump forwards at the opposition ball carrier. If the maneuver missed, the player would roll along the floor. If successful, the player would tackle the opposition holding the ball. In the Arcade version the "flying leap" would pull the opposition's shorts down, revealing the opponent's underwear.[3]


There are eight playable characters, each with a unique characteristic. They are:[3]


The teams in Arch Rivals are selected at random, with Player 1 playing as the home team and Player 2 (or the computer) as the away team. The teams in the arcade version are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Natural High and Brawl State.

Also, the arcade operator can customize the team names and colors through the game's "Hometown Heroes" feature.[4]


Whenever a basket is scored (for either two or three points), there are many random scenes that may be played. One scene has the coach yelling at his players, another features players from the other team groaning in disgust, and two scenes have cheerleaders shouting: "Go team go!" or "Yay team!"

Sometimes, the backboard can be shattered with a rim-rattling slam dunk. This effect was later carried over to the much better-known NBA Jam.

The TV studio depicted in the game is that of the fictional WIDB-TV. It is shown after the end of each period and also at halftime. In addition, after the first and third quarters plus overtime, a "Coaches Corner" screen also appears, providing tips on how to become a better player. The cheer-leading squad performs the halftime show. The final stats are shown at the end of the game, showing how many points the human-controlled player scored, and also the number of steals and rebounds, and shooting percentage.


The four home ports of the game have lower-quality graphics than the arcade version, due to being released on 8 and 16-bit systems. The NES version of the game contains a glitch where a 3-point dunk can be achieved. The Sega Genesis version received poorer reception due to a glitch where almost 95% of shots taken from anywhere on the court would result in a basket.

It was also included on Midway Arcade Treasures 2 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube, Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition for the PC, and Midway Arcade Origins for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[5]


Sinclair User and Computer and Video Games published positive reviews of Arch Rivals, while commenting that the game was best suited to fans of the sport.[4][6]

See also


  1. ^ "NEW VIDEO SHOW BLENDS LIVE ACTION AND ANIMATED CAST". Sun Sentinel - Fort Lauderdale. June 17, 1990.
  2. ^ Weiss, Brett Alan. "Arch Rivals - Review". All Game. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Arch Rivals". Killer List of Video Games. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Arch Rivals - Bally/Midway". Sinclair User. November 1989. p. 75.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Archrivals". Computer and Video Games. October 1989. p. 111.
  1. ^ Released under the Flying Edge brand name on Sega systems.