Being subjected to a lot of Acclaim’s doo doo is something I’ve learned to take on the chin, much like the punches the poor souls in Arch Rivals take on a continual basis. AR (as I will now refer to it as) is a two on two basketball game with the added “feature” being violence – ain’t no calling foul here! The Mega Drive version is passable but I wonder what the hell they were on when this was being developed.
It all starts out quite promisingly. The initial presentation is good for the 8-bit as is the character select screen. Oh yeah, you only get to control one player, your pass/shoot buttons acting as call functions when your partner has the ball (a very loose term for the thing which I’ll come to in a minute). They’ve all got different attributes which becomes clear when you start playing. So you choose your player and what’s that? Yup, you’re straight into a random game with three random characters – so much for choice! The sprites initially seem decent, until the action starts.
Things start blurring straight away from the tip-off and the ball resembles a bouncing chicken nugget and acts in ways that suggest witchcraft. The dynamics are all wrong, the action moves at such a fast pace, you’re panicked into mashing the buttons, mostly the shoot button, from your own half! To demonstrate how fast this game is, you can shoot from your own half and run to the hoop to get there before the ball! I failed to catch my own shot on every occasion however as you can only jump directly up which makes grabbing rebounds virtually impossible.
Rebounds, my oh my, you’ve no idea whether your shot will go in or not, it all feels completely random. The lightest of shots will see the chicken nugget spin violently off the rim and almost into the other half! The characters can only do their designated moves (dunks, long shots etc…) which also feel random. You get punched so much at such a speed that it feels like the violence is the focal point with basketball tacked on. Terrible cut scenes happen after every score (I’ll let you discover those).
I can’t express in words how bad this truly is – run away from it fast, as fast as a chicken nugget!