It's the year 2022 and advances in cybernetic technology have revolutionised the world of sport.
At the beginning of the 21st Century American football players began to replace damaged limbs with powerful prosthetics. In 2006 Paul "Bubba" Kwinn was banned from the Football League for violating rule 96a concerning bionic joint repairs. Two years later the League introduced random testing for bionic violations and more players were banned. Concerned by the League's behaviour, repaired players took legal action.
By the year 2015 the League could not effectively control the game. The only option was to disband the League and set up a new governing body to cover cybernetic players. The first completely cybernetic player made its appearance later that year - beginning a new era in football history. In January 2022, the last human player, Dave "Rocket" Ralston, was killed by a face-masking violation, leaving only robotic players playing the game.
You take command of one of the new cybernetic teams, covering all the plays by remote control. Offensive and defensive plays are selected according to the situation of the game. Once play switches to the field, the player selects and controls specific droids to carry out selected tactics. As in normal Gridiron football, the ball has to be moved a set distance in a limited number of plays. The twist is that if the offensive team fails to move the ball over the "defuse line", the ball explodes, destroying the player carrying it!
Sheer attrition takes its toll as well, causing players to fumble the ball or even give up entirely once they're worn out. You have to take care of your players because replacements are expensive and can soon deplete your funds!
The ST version of Cyberball appears remarkably similar to the arcade version. The computerised options screen, the hard robots and even the ball-replacement orb have remained intact during the transition onto 16-bit.
The sound consists of standard effects utilising the ST's sound chip. The movement of the ball is signified by a harsh whine and the crashing sound of metal on metal is reduced to a dull thud. The only remission from these awful sounds is the strangely haunting female voice that calls the plays.
Despite the impressive appearance of the game, some of the options that made the arcade version such a hit have not made it onto the ST. The only two-player mode available is as a team, and plays aren't as fluid as they were in the original.
Cyberball relies on fast-paced explosive action and the hard, robotic battering should appeal to macho Gridiron fans in particular. If other "future sports" aren't tough enough for you, then work out your aggression on Cyberball!