Of course, with a title like Speedball, gameplay is fast and furious. The computer always switches control to the player that is nearest to the ball. This switching can be really confusing and is a definite minus point in a game where speed is everything.
Visual tweaks make this sporting game a cut above most of the time
To add to the confusion Speedball 2’s scoring system is quite complex and depends on a surprisingly large number of variables, including hitting stars for points and scorching opponents with hot balls. Different game modes: Tournament, League and Manager Mode, spice things up and give the game re-playability. Manager mode lets me buy and sell players like Roy Hodgson 2.0.
I don’t expect much in terms of graphics from sports games and Bitmap Brothers does as well as it can with the subject matter, giving everything a metallic sheen. The top down view helps me keep track of who has the ball and I get an inlaid graphic showing a player covered in enough claret to keep the most ardent blood sports enthusiast keen.
Audio is more than just a noise too, as its futuristic techno beats together with some good sound effects won this game Golden Joystick 1991 for Best Soundtrack.
One of the best aspects of Speedball 2 is the multiplayer mode when the game becomes one on one and it’s time take on my mates without worrying about my standing in the League. Grab a joystick for twice the excitement and a feel you’ve been transported straight back to the early 1990s.
A win-win situation
With the exception of Blood Bowl, I feel Speedball 2 belongs to a sadly forgotten genre; a fictional sports game that’s fast and fun with solid challenging gameplay and more depth than most modern sports games can conjure. Luckily, Speedball 2 Evolution for my iPad almost captures the frenetic pace of the original. However, I will never be a fan of the virtual joystick. ®
Developer Bitmap Brothers
Publisher Image Works
Release Date 1990
Platform Acorn, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Sega
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An utter classic.
I lost count of the joysticks I knackered playing that.
No mention of Ice Cream?
I used to build my centre forward up and just have him muller through the opposition in a straight line all the way through to the goalie then slam the ball in for good measure :o)
There was a throw you could do to bounce the ball of the electrifier so it went along the side through any opponents and round the multiplier loop, too. Most effective!
Must have destroyed 4 Kempston Pro joysticks.
Ice Cream, Ice Cream!
Absolute classic. From an era of British classics, Bitmap Bros, Sensible Software, Code Masters, Team 17, Bullfrog...
The Bitmap Brother's The Chaos Engine deserves mention in any compendium of the Steam Punk sub-genre, too, taking as its premise 'What if Babbage's difference engine had gone a bit HAL9000?'
The closest I have experienced in recent times is Wario Stadium Soccer on the GameCube- takes the sensible step of not aping too closely the sport it is based on. Trying for and failing a slide tackle on your opponent gives them the opportunity to drop a massive Kooper Shell on your side of the pitch. The automated goal keepers are crocodiles... Superb mayhem.
@ Sir Runcible... Very vaguely, from the pages of PC Zone... there was what looked like a rugby pitch with bombholes in it...