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Loosely based upon the classic film, Rollerball, Speedball 2 is simply sublime. In the not so distant future, sport has become increasingly competitive, resulting in the creation of the ultraviolent Speedball league. It is your job to guide the Brutal Deluxe team to greatness, either by controlling the team during matches, or in management mode. In two player mode, you can compete against a friend over two legs with an aggregate score. Matches take place with two teams of ten players in a large arena. Dotted around this arena are bonus point areas, score multipliers, goals, teleporters and electrofiers! Points are scored by scoring goals, injuring opponents or hitting score points in the arena. During the match, bonus items and money will pop up around the arena which you can grab. Between matches, you can spend the money you have accumulated on new players for the team, or upgrading current players. Buying a new superstar early in the season is an excellent way to rack up points by crippling weaker opponents easily scoring goals, however in once promoted, these players are redunant as your tuned up old players should be at better levels, and new, better players are available in the transfer market. The key is finding a balance! During matches, you fight your opponents to score more points, by fair means or foul! Initially I found myself overwhelmed as opponents easily beat me, scoring much more points than me. My frustration was eventually placated once I realised how the score multipliers worked, so make sure you understand how the arema works! The computer will automatically select your nearest player to the ball during matches, which some may find annoying. After a bit of adjustment, it becomes very intuitive, although you will still find your goalie diving out the way of the odd shot when you meant for your defender to slide in for the tackle. Matches are played at a frenetic pace as the ball whizzes around and punches are thrown. Once you have beefed up your team, there is nothing better than spanking opponents. A favourite tactic of mine is beefing up the wingers and camping by the score multipliers and just punching anyone who gets close! The graphics are solid for the time and stand up reasonably well today. It is easy to tell which team is which and keep track of everything as the action is played out. The music is superb in a retro way. Modern gamers may not find much to like about it, but for anyone who grew up with this era of games will find the bleeping electronic soundtrack a pleasure to listen to. Sound effects are top notch too, whether it be the ball pinging around the arena, punches connecting, or an ambulance picking up an injured player. Every male over the age of twenty five should always repeat the mantra 'Ice cream, ice cream!' when someone mentions that particular product. The difficulty curve is spot on for beginners. More experienced players will find that the CPU offers little resistance once a few techniques have been learnt. This is where the two player more comes into effect as you battle a friend over two legs. The two legged games are a stroke of genius/idiocy depending on which side of a flukey, last minute goal you find yourself on the end of. Management mode is of limited appeal. You can fast forward the match to skip to the management side, but there is little depth to it. Your players demonstrate little initiative and although I have managed to achieve promotion, I always found myself getting battered in the top league and have never managed to complete it. Your players simply cannot compete and once injuries kick in, there is little you can do to stem the tide of defeats. All in all, this game is a stone cold classic for good reason. Grab yourself a copy and enjoy a genuine slice of gaming history.
Anyone who has not played Speedball 2 is missing a major part of life. Of course, the people I am likely to be referring to are the under twenty-fives. The modern gaming audience who think "Chuckie Egg" is something there mum used to make and that "James Pond" is my spelling mistake. The premise is simple, a futuristic violent sport contact ball sport has been driven underground but has had a resurgence in popularity in 2105 thanks to a new team known as "Brutal Deluxe". Pick your team and see if you can come out on top. Speedball 2 was undoubtedly the pinnacle of gaming excellence for the Commodore Amiga. Of course, by todays standards it would look useless. I mean, even mobile phone games usually manage more than two-dimensional vertical views. However, on it's release in 1991 this was cutting edge. Of course this is a sequel but should more honestly be thought of as an update to the original. Whereas the original had a narrow two-dimensional top down view and limited features. Speedball 2 has numerous modes and features which make it as entertaining as the original but with knobs on. The gameplay of Speedball 2 is fast and frenetic and plays like a futuristic American football without the horrendous breaks in play, crossed with good old British soccer. Your nine strong team come onto the metal clad field suited and booted to give out some serious damage and hopefully score some goals in the process. On first play you may well wonder what in Jesus's name is going on such is the frenetic pace of the game. The metal arenas you play in can make the game a little like human pinball as the ball bounces of walls. However, this also gives the game a surprising level of tactics as you can bounce the ball of walls and through chutes for which also give various levels of points. This may make keeping score difficult however, as scoring goals is not always enough to win! Whereas, the original Speedball had very basic gameplay, Speedball 2 adds some much needed depth, particularly to the single player mode which was woefully dull in the original. The management of your team is now an important feature as you decide what to spend your hard earned cash on. Will you buy a new star player or some armour? Perhaps some extra speedy boots for your team. These decisions can effect whether you win or lose your upcoming games. This is particularly true against the more difficult teams which have lightning fast pace and reflexes. You will be frustrated as yet another team kicks your arse but you will keep coming back for more. What is more you will start to anticipate the plays, organise a defence, and thanks to an intelligent computer AI and incredibly responsive controls, you may even have a chance of scraping a victory. Of course, as with any game of this type, the real fun is to be found in the two-player mode and I am glad to say Speedball 2 is probably still the best two-player game I have played. You and your mate, or deadly enemy as they will henceforth be known, can go one on one for one hundred and eighty seconds of frantic, panicky mayhem. You know you should be playing tactically yet you cannot help but try and play your way through your opposition directly towards the goal. Did I forget to mention that there are ways to get there by a direct route? Toss the ball through a chute and it can become electrically charged allowing you to throw it right through an opponent. Or you could always just muscle your way through. What else should I tell you? Well, it was created by the legendary Bitmap Brothers who were the God's of the gaming world during the 1990's. Everything they touched turned to gold but if their other games were gold then Speedball 2 was platinum. Crisp graphics, stunning, adrenaline-filled gameplay, a thumping soundtrack and even now, eighteen years later, infinitely replayable this is a game everyone should try and track down. And here is the good bit...they are updating it for the PC and it looks stunning! I just hope it keeps faith to the pace of the original. The original is no longer available anywhere other than eBay or illegally but if you can track one down it is well worth it. Best game ever? It is certainly mine. Those intrigued by the work of the Bitmap Brothers can read more at: www.bitmap-brothers.co.uk/our-games/past/speedball2.htm - Those desperate to see the new game should visit here: http://www.speedball2.com/
SPEEDBALL 2 I've been sitting here, for a couple of days now, trying to devise a way to start this review on the violent futuristic sport simulation known as Speedball 2. As old as the hills, fairly redundant due to the deletion of the machine it could be played on (the mighty, mighty Amiga 500) and looking kind of basic in it's 2-D top down view compared to the three-dimensional graphical extravaganzas most modern games have on offer - the words "best game ever" seems a somewhat ridiculous opening statement for the masses to contend with. Foolhardy even! I'm likely to get laughed off the internet by the eleven to nineteen year olds who treasure there X-Box, Nintendo, and Playstation., all of whom probably have little notion of what Speedball 2, Amiga and the Hula Hoop actually are. But after tearing my hair out trying to establish the context of this review, it's the only way I can describe this piece of 16-bit perfection. Speedball 2 is a genius piece of games making that deserves more credence than the classic-retro gaming status it currently holds and the title of "Best Game Ever Made... Ever!" seems entirely appropriate. So "ya-boo sucks to you" my teenage chums. So Speedball... a violent quasi-legal future sport with one rule, slam a solid steel ball into your opponents goal. Or, for a laugh, into your opponents face! That's right there are no other rules. Originally conceptualised as a game of six hulking brutes against six hulking brutes, beating each other to a pulp whilst attempting to score within the confines of a small metallic playing arena, corruption and violence eventually force the game underground. Unregulated and ungoverned Speedball degenerates into a fiasco. However, by the dawn of the 22nd century, public interest in the sport is reorganised and rejuvenated - a new league structure is created. There are new teams, new stadia and new ways to score. The arena is bigger, the players are tougher and the action is faster than ever before. From out of the darkness emerges Speedball 2 and, along with it, a new challenge. A new Speedball team have arrived on the scene, the toughly named Brutal Deluxe. Problem is their name belies the fact they are probably the worst team ever to appear in Speedball history. Worse still, you've been given the honour of attempting to turn them into champions. With only 14 weeks to reach the top division, can you create a team of bloodthirsty super-humans with deft Speedball ability to steamroll over the likes of Fatal Justice and Steel Fury? Designed by the Bitmap Brothers (not real brothers), creators of a festival of classic Amiga games (Xenon 2, Chaos Engine, Gods), Speedball 2 advances upon the original Speedball game greatly. In some ways it's more of the same, yet entirely different - the perfect ingredients in sequel making. Speedball itself was a fun game, but did have a number of detractors. Whilst, the basic elements of the game made for some fantastic fast paced two-player fun, the single player game was rather simple and unchallenging, ensuring that the longevity was rather short-lived. Not good for hermits, pretty good for squabbling brothers. Furthermore, the play area was relatively tiny causing slight restrictions in gameplay and resulting in little strategy - it all got a little bit samey too quickly. Despite this, Speedball met with fair critical praise and is a decent game in its own right, but it's most important achievement was to be ever so slightly flawed, thus giving way to the catalyst for its successor. Speedball 2 maintains the basic concepts of its predecessor - score lots of goals whilst tackling and pummelling your opponents into the ground - but improves immensely on said flaws. The Bitmap Brothers added two masterstrokes of pure genius to the erstwhile simplicity of Speedball. The first was the addition of a management feature in order to enhance the single player game. Now, not only would you partake in the in-game bashing, you could also transform your team into winners with a canny bit of training before every match. Furthermore, you could now purchase a couple of star players to beef up the bunch of weaklings at your command. Of course, these features require the use of cold, hard cash (picked up in-game) of which there never seems to be enough. Already the additional management feature makes for a more intriguing one-player game as you begin to plan stratagems for future matches - do you buy new, superior players or do you train-up the original squad slowly until they turn into superhuman behemoths? Hmm... The second masterstroke consists of the actual matches. Gone is the tiny playing arena with its functional two-way vertical scrolling. Instead the Bitmap's have replaced it with an eight-way multi-directional scrolling pitch that seems about 8 times the size of the original. To say the pitch is vast is somewhat of an understatement. With the incorporation of nine brutes playing against nine to make use of the bigger playing area, the player graphics have also been updated and are speedier and more easy to control, resulting in some fast and furious action. Of course, a bigger pitch provides much more scope for added variety in gameplay and, again, the Brothers don't disappoint. The variety of features ensures that how you go about winning games is completely up to you. For instance, there is more than one way to score. Not content with the normal route to goal (and the ten points awarded for such a feat) you can also hit either of the two bounce-domes for a couple of points, cripple an opponents player for another ten points or hit one of five stars on the sidewall of the arena for a couple of points each (light up all five stars and you're awarded 10 points). Alternatively, you can also deduct two points from your oppositions score if you hit a star they have managed to light up. Already you can see the scope for more strategic play coming to the fore - you don't even have to score a "proper" goal to win. And yet there's still more! The point multiplier (an invention of pure genius) can provide a slight advantage by doubling the team's points for each score obtained thereafter, once the ball is sent up the multiplier's chute. Such is the advantage half the game can be spent battling against opposition around the multiplier with little intention of scoring until you've obtained the multiplier's bonus. Other pitch features include an electrobounce (electrifying the ball so that it tackles the next player - very useful for scoring with only the keeper to beat) a warp gate (which instantly warps the ball to the other end of the pitch) and a vast array of tokens to collect that have a variety of in-game effects (power-ups for players making them harder and faster, freezing opposing players, locking your goal, etc. and silver coins representing 100 credits), all of which keeps things interesting when thinking about strategies to apply during a match. With regards to the silver coins, you can spend just as much time looking to pick these up than heading for goal, as they are equally essential for building and buying a successful team in the management section. Spending money on the right attributes for the right players or the best star players available really does make a difference in game. If you balls this aspect up, you're on a one-way street to a hiding. All this added variety and tactical splendour could have collapsed under the heavy weight of expectation, yet Speedball 2 entails perfection in all other departments as well. Despite the additional complexities, which adds weight to the games longevity, Speedball 2 remains ever so simple a game to play. Essentially, the Bitmap Brothers recognised what worked in the original game and kept with said features. Therefore the match time remains at two halves of only ninety seconds each. It ensures the game is played at a furious, breathless and often reckless pace. Furthermore, the arena furniture stays the same throughout. Whereas the Bitmap's could have been tempted to move the point multipliers, bounce-domes, etc. around the pitch environment in every subsequent game, they realised that with only 90 seconds on the clock the player just wants to get into the game, not spend half the match searching for the integral tactical components of the pitch. Again, damn right simplicity is the way forward, with every arena for every game being identical, allowing the player to get on with the simple leg breaking tasks at hand. But perhaps the greatest element to Speedball 2 is the games difficulty setting. Firstly, the computer AI is simply brilliant, meaning that your computer-controlled players don't do wayward or completely idiotic things that allow the opposition to score. Any goals conceded are nearly always down to human error. Likewise, computer opponents don't make the game in any way easy for human opponents and there's no real "one-way" to score, that once you've worked it out you'll score that way every single time (which many games of this period tended to suffer from). No, you actually have to think about what you're doing to be victorious. Indeed, when games of the quality of Pro Evolution Soccer still serve to frustrate the player with computer AI idiocy, it highlights the superior technical achievement of Speedball 2 almost a decade previously. Instead, Speedball 2 is one hell of a challenge. In fact, it's one of the toughest bastards of a game I've ever happened across. Whilst it has a highly appropriate learning curve, the first games in the lower league allowing you to set your stall for the higher league to follow, some of the teams in that higher league are damn near impossible to beat - super-fast, unbelievably tough, the game accelerates into a virtual hyper-mode of frantic defence and is literally jaw-dropping in it's amazing pace. But despite this, Speedball 2 curiously doesn't frustrate. The likes of Fatal Justice are beatable on your day; the player just needs to keep up the consistency of play and concentration to win through. To this day I've only won the top league the once and yet I'm still playing, attempting to gain that achievement for a second time. Likewise, I've very rarely managed to beat my arch nemeses of the game, the deplorably fantastic Super Nashwan (or utter bastards), but when you do, the sense of achievement is, well, rather immense. Speedball 2 is quite simply a fantastic challenge. No game grabs you with such fiendish addictiveness (due to the exquisite learning curve and the marvellous simplicity) and over fifteen years later, it still hasn't let go. In terms of enduring and lasting gameplay, nothing beats Speedball 2. Unsurprisingly, gameplay rules the day. You might have noticed that I haven't yet detailed the games graphics or sound, but do you really need to know, considering that gameplay is everything? Okay, then. Sure, they're not the best in the world being on a 16-bit machine, but they push the Amiga to its limit and, unsurprisingly, are rather faultless. The graphics have a superb metallic sheen and neo-fascist brutalism that provides an entirely appropriate arena for the action, but the key thing is the speed of the sprites. Without such a hyper-kinetic speed half the gameplay would be lost already - Speedball 2 is a fast-paced often frantic game and graphics need to be quick to ensure that this is the case. And they duly oblige. You won't find graphical glitches here or any slow down in the frame rate when too much happens on screen. Instead, the pace is simply breathtaking! Add to this some decent presentation screens throughout, a quality opening theme tune and the odd cry of "ice-cream" (which always raises a smile) in game amongst the cheering crowd and this is the veritable icing (pun intended) on the cake. There's not much more I can say to convince you of Speedball 2's wonderful virtues. How about, no Speedball 2, no Sensible Soccer? In the chronology of gaming it could be said the 2-D top-down view of Speedball 2 considerably influenced one of the other great games of Amiga lore. Not buying it? How about in the fifteen years since it's release no game has bettered it's future sport environment. Now that's not open conjecture, that's a fact! Speedball 2's superb mix of tactics and outright violence, coupled with sheer addictiveness and an amazing frantic pace, with the addition that you'll find no game as challenging that you'll just keep coming back to, time after time after time, simply makes this the greatest game of all time, ever. Overall - Best. Game. Ever! Speedball 2 pisses all over anything the X-Box 360 has produced gameplay wise. Seriously... Amiga 500/600/1200 2 Player Joystick Availability - Well, as you may have noted in the bulk of the review, the Amiga was deleted some time ago (about 1996) and Speedball 2 was released in March 1991 (at the retail price of £24.99! Bonkers!) and is therefore unavailable unless you try a couple of specialist Amiga shops online. E-bay seems like your best bet. However, you may wish to get an Amiga emulator and the Speedball 2 ADF disk image online. Essentially the emulator will recreate an Amiga on your PC, which is almost like the best ever. To get the WinUAE Amiga emulator, you can download it for free from the official site: http://www.winuae.net/ The Speedball 2 ADF disk image however, is stuck in the middle of legal issues. Yes, the game has been deleted for more than a while, yet the copyright still belongs to the Bitmap Brothers, whom, as yet, have not relinquished it. Therefore, you can only download the ADF disk image of Speedball 2 if you still hold the original game for the Amiga, otherwise your in breach of copyright (read as - you're downloading it illegally). Therefore, I can't direct you to a website that holds the ADF for downloading.
I remember playing this all the time against a friend of mine, even though I lost all the time it must be the funniest sports game I ever played. The first thing they did right was not to go into stupid complexity or daft shaped arena. The whole aim was to score more goals than your oppenent, although you could score extra points by hitting various wall targets. The pitch was your basic rectangular design with the goals set into each end with them positioned at the top and bottom of the screen. To tackle your oppenent you could either punch them of sliding tackle, this would award you the ball (which is carried) and deplete the opponents health. On pitch power ups would appear from time to time which could power up your player or give you cash to spend on your team, if your playing a league game. Also on the side were a couple of good rebound features including one that after you hit it any oppenent in the way of the ball would be knocked off thier feet. The portals on the side were also fun with the ball warping to the other side of the arena. This was all great fun but in single player mode it can get a bit dull (like all soccer games). To spice up single player mode there was such things as a transfer market and the opportunity to upgrade your players. However the game really takes off in two player mode, in this it could provide countless hours of replay value as you try to trounce your mate. You can't really expect great subtlities in the control system with a game of this age, basically throw, punch and sliding tackle, but this keeps the game fun as you don't need brilliantly thoughtout tatics. I really would reccommend that you search this out if your going to play it against another person but its not great in one player mode.