One of the most accessible yet challenging future-sports games of all time, Speedball is a cross between football / soccer and rugby with a highly aggessive streak thrown in for good measure. The objective of Speedball is to win matches by scoring more points than the opposing team, moving up through the Speedball leagues earning credits to enhance the team’s armour and to hire new star players.
Speedballers throw the steel ball around the pitch, shoulder charging their opponents in the process to jostle them out of the way of the scoring areas. Speedball is a violent sport and during the match it is common that some players will be injured and get carried off by the medic droids.
Like a pinball machine, the Speedball arena has multiple features which can be used to score points or to gain a tactical advantage. These features include Goals, Bounce Domes, Stars, Score Multipliers, Electro-Domes and Warp Gates
There are four ways to score in a game of Speedball: Throwing the ball in the opposing team’s Goal = 10 points, throwing the ball against a Bounce Dome = 2 points, lighting one of the five Stars = 2 points plus a 10 point bonus for lighting all five stars and injuring an opposing player = 10 points.
Score Multipliers are an important feature of the Speedball arena and entire matches can be won and lost depening on which team controls the multipliers. There are two multipliers one on each side of the arena, level with the halfway line. If a team throws the ball into a multiplier all points scored from then on will score 50% more. If that same team throws the ball into the multiplier again all points scored from then on will be doubled. This is the maximum multiplier. The opposing team can cancel this multiplier by throwing the ball into the multiplier themselves, switching off the opponets multiplier until the advantage is in the default position before adding their own multipliers by continuing to throw the ball into the Score Multiplier.
Elecro-Domes charge the ball with energy so that it can be thrown through opposing players. If a team has a double multiplier the ball can be thrown into three opposing players before it loses it’s charge. Electro-Domes are a powerful ally for teams struggling to beat the opposition’s goal keeper since a ball charged by the Electro-Dome will knock any player to the ground upon impact.
Finally, Warp Gates are placed on either side of the area, two on each end. A ball passing through a Warp Gate will emerge from the Gate on the opposite side of the arena. Throwing the ball at a diagonal angle through a warp gate can offer some useful offensive and defensive passing options.
In addition to all the features of the arena, many power-ups appear which can alter the state of play. Some power-ups include: Manic: maxes out both teams stats, Freeze Team, stops the opposing team from moving for a short time, Goal Door, puts a barrier across the goal for a short time and Zap, which sends the entire opposing team crashing to the ground. Collectibles also include team boosts, coins and armour upgrades.
In contrast to the extensive arena features, scoring options and power-ups, Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe is a remarkably simple game to play. The controls make use of a joystick or similar device to move the player and a single button which takes care of everything else. The game is viewed from a top down perspective and a familiarity with the layout of the arena can make all the difference in overcoming the AI’s hyper-aggressive attitude.
At the beginning of the game the player takes control of Brutal Deluxe, a low level league team with 12 homogenous players with names like Nigel, Graham and Barry. Over the course of a season the player can hire star players like Gaza, Roscopp and Jams to bolster the roster and/or boost the starting players stats by buying upgrades to make them more specialised for given positions around the field.
The game’s management section is simple yet offers a good amount of strategy. Since star players cannot be upgraded the player must choose whether to trade out a starting player with high potential for future upgrade in favour of a short term talent injection to help score points in the early matches.
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe offers up fast paced, high-octane action with an interesting sense of progression and team management to add to the longevity of the title. Both against the AI and another player Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe presents a fierce and fun challenge with timeless, addictive gameplay.