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Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe (Amiga) artwork

Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe (Amiga) review

"Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe is a future sports title that appeared on the Amiga back in 1990. Created by a UK based development team called the Bitmap Brothers it is a game that was a breath of fresh air at the time and still amazingly playable today. So much so that I believe a Game Boy Advance conversion is being planned for release in the very near future. "

Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe is a future sports title that appeared on the Amiga back in 1990. Created by a UK based development team called the Bitmap Brothers it is a game that was a breath of fresh air at the time and still amazingly playable today. So much so that I believe a Game Boy Advance conversion is being planned for release in the very near future.

The game sees you take control of a struggling team called Brutal Deluxe who compete in a violent futuristic sport called Speedball. Your task is to take the team through the Speedball League, rising form the bottom of the second division to the top of the first. As you play you earn cash to train and outfit our team, homing them from a bunch of no-hopers to a lean, mean Speedball winning machine!

The actual game plays as combination of sports management sim and super-violent beat ‘em up/ball throwing matches. There are several modes of play. You can play one off matches to practice the game with which has no effect on your teams standing. Knockout mode sees you play a series of ever tougher matches until you lose. You can enter them for the Cup, which is a best of four matches mini tourney and finally you can enter the League, which is the real meat of the game. It’s here you take control of Brutal Deluxe for as long as it takes to get them to the top of the 1st division!

The actual matches take place in a metallic arena. Two teams of 12 (9 active, 3 subs), face off against each other. The ball is a small metal sphere about the size of a softball and is thrown form player to player. The aim is to pass it down the arena and throw it into the opposing goal, which is a hole at the end of the arena. Play takes place on a vertical plane, ie. The goals are at the top and bottom of the screen and the action is viewed from above. The players are outfitted in heavy grey armour and you can only control one player at a time. This will always be the one nearest the ball. Depending on how you have trained your squad will dictate how the computer makes decisions on behalf of your other players.

The game play moves at incredible speed. The ball flies back and forth constantly and it takes a while to adjust to the constant switching from player to player. Once you have got the hang of it, it becomes gloriously anarchic. You can punch out and ram opposing players to gain control of the ball, power-ups will appear on the arena floor which will do things like make the ball red-hot, so it can’t be held it has to be thrown the instant it is caught. If a man goes down badly injured or if you score a small picture insert appears showing a close up of what happened (a still image but still a nice touch) and the crowd react to every goal, sneaky tackle and great piece of passing with realistic roars and boo’s.

There are score multipliers you can hit for extra points and you also score for injuring an opposing team member so badly he has to be stretchered off. There are bounce domes on the arena that make the ball boing around like a pinball, these also give you points. The Warp gate is the best on-pitch game enhancer, this will transport the ball across to the opposite side of the arena, which is great for confusing the hell out of the opposition (especially in two player mode). Fast and frenetic, the actual Speedball matches are a joy to play and the satisfaction of progressing your team though the league is undeniable.

But before you can get stuck in to playing the actual Speedball matches you have to choose your players, train them up and set up their positions. Each player has eight stats; aggression, defence, throwing ability, stamina, attack, speed, power, intelligence. Training up each stat costs money, so you must decide which players need which abilities improving. For example, good throwing capabilities are requires for players assigned to the back of the arena, your goalie need to have high intelligence. Your centre forwards need good aggression and attack. Your midfielders high defence and so on. Careful training will mean less bad decisions made by players when you are not in control of them. The temptation is to hit the ALL button and just train them all to an average standard. This will get you through the first few matches OK. But as the season progresses, you’ll find your players being outclassed, so it pays to specialise.

If you find yourself doing well and earning money you can also transfer Star Players to your team. These will be players who specialise in certain positions and will have awesome stats. Soon with careful planning and training you’ll have a team to be reckoned with. Probably the only downside of the single player campaign is the computers A.I. tends to favour itself rather than you and you can find yourself the victim of some very unfair tactics and unforgivingly intelligent opponents. But that just makes winning all the more satisfying!

However two-player mode is deeply good fun as well. Given the nature of the game it is recommended that both players have at least played one cup or league campaign and gotten used to the controls, speed and layout of the arena’s. It’s not an easy game to pick up and play and some one with a modicum of experience can utterly trounce a newbie in a most deeply humiliating fashion. This is how I was introduced to the game. A “friend” of mine invited me round for a session of this great new game he had just bought for his Amiga, Speedball 2. “Oh its easy, you’ll pick it up in no time. I’ve hardly played it myself, so were almost even.” Well he was lying, he had played it loads and proceeded to beat me 10 matches to zero, plus he had told me the wrong controls as well. Me and him had always be a tad competitive and this was just too much for me. After I had jammed my joystick up his nose and kicked him in the groin, he decided to actually tell me the REAL controls and hobbled off leaving me to play happily for several hours. Ah happy days…

If Speedball 2 does make it unchanged to the GameBoy Advance, it would definitely be my “killer app” for that system. The idea of being able to pilot Brutal Deluxe to the top of the First Division Speedball Championships while sitting on the train or on the toilet fills me with great joy. In the meantime I recommend anyone who appreciates fast, furious and tactical future sports games to check out this or the equally good Genesis conversion.

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Community review by falsehead (March 08, 2004)

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