Every machine has its classics. The Spectrum had Knight Lore and A tic Atac, the C64 had Impossible Mission and Pitstop II. As for the Amiga, what games can truly rank as the best the machine can produce? Obviously, there's Kick Off II, but apart from that? Well, Speedball II can definitely add itself to that much-revered list. Set two years after the events of the original game, Speedball II marks the comeback of the future's most popular sport. Due to falling viewing figures, the authorities took Speedball temporarily off the air, until a more violent alternative could be found. The result is a revamped version of the old favourite, with a larger playing area, faster action, and rougher players.
Taking the basic ideas behind Speedball, the near-legendary Bitmap Brothers have taken the best parts of the first game, and incorporated them with a whole host of new features for this long-awaited sequel. With the programming talents of Rob Trevellyan and graphics supplied by ex-Palace artist, Dan Malone, the result is far better than I ever expected. As well as introducing the ability to add specific talents and improvements to each of your team's players, you are also allowed to groom your team into champions by taking on a management mantle and buying and selling players or purchasing extra kit to raise their stamina or aggression levels. As can be expected for a novice, you begin the game in charge of the weakest team in the Speedball II league - Brutal Deluxe. This band of miscreants need a massive shake-up before they can be transformed into championship material, and you are placed as the man to do the job. Once the game has loaded, an option screen offers the choice of entering a league or a cup tournament, or to go straight into a one-off game. Once selected, the action then switches to the all-important arena where the match will begin.
It is here that you realise the extent to which this sequel has been improved. Whereas the first pitch was only three screens high and was scrolled vertically, the Speedball II arena spans roughly 6x2 screens, and boasts a number of new, improved features. Whilst the positioning of the goals hasn't changed and they are still located at each end of the pitch, each side is now cluttered with useful or bonus-giving gates and features. Kept over from the first game, the warp holes are back with a vengeance, with nearly three times as many as the first game. But the most impressive addition is a spiral channel which doubles the value of each of your goals every time the ball is thrown into it. Similarly, pin-ball-style coloured stars punctuate the walls and can be lit for even more bonus points. It would seem that, with all these additions lining the pitch, that the game would get unnecessarily complex. Somehow, though, they don't get in the way of the main action, but simply add a little extra spice to the actual game and prove essential for building up points in league games.
As well as the many pitch-based additions, the basic game is more violent, too. Each player has his own list of statistics and can withstand a number of knocks. However, as the match progresses and the players take more and more hits, their resistance is suitably depleted until they finally collapse and have to be stretchered off by two robotic physios. Likewise, all of the players now play more of a part in the matches, with the goalie being the most notable, and the control system has been refined to make passing and shooting even easier. The joystick's directional controls send the player nearest the ball running in the relevant direction, whilst the firebutton prompts a throw or a shot, the strength of which is determined by how long the firebutton is held down for. This system is one of the best I have ever encountered, in terms of both accuracy and efficiency, and is the icing on an already playable cake.
Summing up Speedball II is an almost impossible task. It retains the basic gameplay of the original, but expands on practically every part of it. The managerial side is easy to get into and the various stats of each player do actually make a difference to the gameplay. The new, enlarged pitch makes for a faster game which involves more passing and dodging skills, and the new pitch-side features add even more variety - as does the improved violence! In fact, there is absolutely nothing to fault in Speedball II, the people involved have produced a sequel which far exceeds any of my high expectations and, in the process, have created a game which is without a doubt a classic.
One of my favorites from C64. I used to play with Brutal Deluxe (the team that You lead in this game) all night until I finally won the championship. Huh, it was a hard task, but with right player purchases it was a piece of cake. Brutals will have an easy task in 2nd division, but division 1... It sure is a hard one. Now, what am I talking about? Ok, in Speedball (which is kinda like American football, but rougher) a goal is simple - score a goal, hehehe. But it will not be easy with all the bloodthirsty opponent players. Be careful, Your players may even end up in hospital if You don't take care of them. Anyway, just try to be a champion. Through a league or a knock-out cup system... Your choice.
Have you ever thought about how will football look like after 100 years? The Bitmap Brother had! Speedball is a real futuristic football game, with amazing graphics and speed!
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