On December 12, Apple took a momentous step forward – one that could have significant consequences for the sports video game sector. Unveiling the first in a series of sports-themed titles, their new release, Ultimate Rivals: The Rink, is a casual hockey game that contains a cast of characters we’re all very familiar with.
Featuring the likenesses of a host of celebrity athletes, the title marks a major achievement for Bit Fry Game Studios, which has long worked towards a goal of making accessible, popular sports games with licensed characters – ones that will not break the bank for the average player.
Now, in collaboration with Apple, it seems their dream has finally been realised.
Accessible sports games with familiar faces
Widely considered to be Canada’s national game both on and off the rink, hockey features in some of the best-selling sports video games around, from online slots to elaborate simulations and time-management titles. With its popularity spread across the globe, it’s little surprise that it features in lots of well-loved titles, but none of them to date are quite comparable with Ultimate Rivals: The Rink.
Now live on iOS, the game is one of more than 100 available on Apple Arcade and features a cast of 58 popular sporting celebrities. Coming from a variety of different disciplines, from soccer through to basketball, their skills have been reimagined to make them equally competitive on the ice as they are in their own sports.
Among the most well-known names are soccer stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, but there are many more charismatic and talented personalities keeping them company – each of them ready to take to the ice at your whim.
As the CEO and founder of Bit Fry Game Studios explains, “We are ripping up the sports video game rulebook and rewriting it for a new generation. We’re starting with the gamer first and empowering their imagination to create the ultimate team of athletes across sports, in a way only they can envision.”
Bringing sports together
For the brilliant minds behind Bit Fry Game Studios, the overarching aim is a simple yet ambitious one: to bring sports together in the same way sports bring people together. Hoping to offer consumers a gaming experience unlike any they’ve had before, Ultimate Rivals allows players to pit teams of three against each other, with the chance to have everyone from NHL’s Alex Ovechkin to LeBron James in a line-up beside hockey supremo Wayne Gretzky and MLB star Jose Altuve.
This team element injects added complexity into the game, making it less about the individual sporting stars and more about finding the strongest combinations and enjoying the range of options. Different teams thus unlock different ways to play, either against an AI opponent or by going head to head with other gamers in multiplayer tournaments.
Original, immersive and innovative, it’s fair to say that, with Ultimate Rivals, Bit Fry Game Studios and Apple Arcade have finally managed to come up with an entirely unique concept – a feat that has not occurred in the world of sports video gaming for a long time. Well worth playing, the game thus extends the tantalising possibility that this is only the beginning for this marriage of brilliant minds.