Arch Rivals is a 2 on 2 arcade style basketball game. The game is considered to have been the inspiration for the NBA Jam series, which plays similarly but features actual NBA teams and players. The NES version is a port of the arcade version which two teams of two play 4 quarters.
Teams include: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Natural High, and Brawl State, but the teams are randomly created from a pool of 8 fictional characters. Each player has unique strengths and weaknesses.
Each quarter lasts for 4 minutes. If the final score is a tie, the game goes into a one minute overtime which ends when a player scores.
Gameplay consists of typical passing and shooting mechanics allowing the player to preform passes, dunks and shots for 2 or 3 points. The players can also attack other players to steal the ball.
Other game features include obstacles that can end up on the court like cans and litter than can mess up a player on contact.