A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ultimate Rivals: The Rink is a fast-paced arcade sports game for Apple Arcade. The action pits real-world athletes against one another (even from varying sports leagues) in a futuristic arena. As an arcade hockey game of sorts, it has body-checking, which might knock down an opponent, but there's no NHL-like fistfights or blood shown. Players will see plenty of logos on arenas and jerseys for a player's professional sports league, but there's no additional advertising included in the game since it's part of Apple Arcade, which forbids in-game ads or purchases.
What's it about?
ULTIMATE RIVALS: THE RINK is a sports game on Apple Arcade that takes place in a neon-laced futuristic arena, and now offers new features and game modes. It lets you choose a team made up of real-world athletes to build the ultimate hockey team. Along with players from the NHL (both retired "legends" and current hockey stars), you can choose players from several other pro leagues, including the NBA, the WNBA, MLB, the NFL, and the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. Giancarlo Stanton from the New York Yankees? Why not? Drew Brees from The Saints? Sure thing. You'll complete single- and multiplayer matches to unlock more athletes, totaling more than 60 in all. Each team has two skaters and a goalie. If you're playing by yourself, two of your players are AI bots. Matches consist of three two-minute periods. The game also features Ultimate Abilities, which are powerful moves you can unleash at the right time to gain an advantage.
Is it any good?
This fast-paced, futuristic hockey game -- with familiar characters -- offers short, intense rounds of play, making it ideal for when you only have a few minutes to kill. The best part of Ultimate Rivals: The Rink is experimenting with your characters by playing up their strengths. LA Lakers' LeBron James, for example, excels in offense but is weaker in defense, and as a goalie has weak endurance but strong recovery and extremely high maneuverability. The game also features sport-specific moves, which you can play around with, such as special dekes by soccer players or heavy hits from the NFLers. It's also fun to see what each of the Ultimate Abilities can do. When it comes to single-player modes, there's Instant Action, where you're in a game within a few seconds, and Solo Play, which lets you first choose from one of three rinks (in NYC, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) and choose difficulty level (Easy, Medium, Hard). As for multiplayer, the Challenge Friend mode has been newly added since the game debuted, allowing you to invite a friend or wait for an invite, but the opponent must be a Game Center friend. Finally, there's Online 1v1, which tells the game to go out and find a random opponent for you to play against.
You may wait for too long for an opponent and give up, which suggests that there aren't a lot of players out there, but there might be another reason for it. There's a new Instant Rematch option that's been added, in case you lost by a slim margin and want to quickly get back in to even the score, so plenty of people may be constantly replaying each other. For the future, it would be awesome to allow three people to control all three players on a team, in an online 6v6 multiplayer match (with voice support). The camera would have to be higher up, but it could be a stellar (but ambitious) addition in a future update. If you're looking for a quick fix but still enjoy some depth to athletes and how you utilize them, Ultimate Rivals: The Rink is well worth your time and energy, and isn't one to skate past.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about pitting athletes against each other. Ultimate Rivals: The Rink lets you select players from various sports to go head-to-head in a futuristic hockey match. Is this a great idea, or a half-baked one? Would you expect hockey stars to have an obvious advantage over players from other leagues?
While there's decent gender and racial diversity in Ultimate Rivals: The Rink, as well as varying body types, what about age, or the option to play as a character who uses a wheelchair? Should this game be criticized for a shortcoming in these areas, or is it fine to feature only young and nondisabled players since it's based on real pro athletes from mainstream leagues?
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