Commodore User1st December 1988
Published in Commodore User #63
Question: What do you get if you cross football with rugby, rollerball, and throw in a bit of Brockian Ultra Cricket for good measure? Answer: Speedball. Probably one of the best games yet to grace the Amiga [Brockian Ultra Cricket?! - Ed].
In Speedball, you control a gang of five 'ballers, in what is the game of the future (where have I heard that one before?). The basic rules are pretty straightforward. The play area is a steel-wall encased arena with a goal at either end. Two teams compete, and the aim is to get the ball into the opponent's goal more often than the opposing side. 'Sfunny game, you say, isn't that just like football?
The ball is carried, and after that there are no rules as such because once you get the ball, you've got to try and stop your opponent from robbing you, and basically he doesn't care how he gets it. The best way to go about this, and in effect one of the only two ways to do it, is to slug the nearest opposing player right across the chops. This effectively gets him out of the way for a few seconds and gives you a bit of breathing space. After that, you should belt up the pitch and whizz the ball in the back of the net.
Speedball is amazingly violent. You can beat up other players to make it just that little easier to get to the goal. The off-the-ball tackling makes Paul Davies look like Ronald McDonald. More importantly, you can beat up the goalie, which makes it easier to score than aiming a half chance at Bobby Mimms. Naturally, of course, the opponent will do the same thing to you, which just adds to the fun.
In a game as warped and violent as this one, corruption naturally fits in quite nicely, and corruption there is. At various points, items will appear on the track. These range from weapon tiles, which basically turn the ball into a weapon, effectively knocking out any opposing players who try to catch it, through to an item that reverses the opponent's control - just like a tab of ecstasy.
You can also pick up credits and this is where the dodgy dealing comes in. Credits are useful things. Credits can be used to buy extra time, a useful investment if you are just one goal behind at the end of a game. They can also be used to buy extra goals, bribe officials, reduce the opposition's skill, and increase your own.
Speedball also comes complete with a wide and extensive set of options. These range from starting a league or knockout championship against the computer, or playing a two player league that can last anything up to 100 weeks. Thankfully, there's a full save/load option.
Graphics are fab. The vertical scrolling of the pitch is amazingly smooth and the full screen format works really well. The definition of the characters is very clear, and the photographs you get of the leader of each team, and the fist which impatiently pounds an armoured leg whilst the game waits for you to make a decision is comic book quality.
Sound takes the form of a particularly boppy tune and some nice sampled effects for ricochets, tackles and goals. It's all pretty atmospheric stuff, and the horn which sounds at the end is a gas.
If you haven't got an Amiga, this could provide the incentive to go out and buy one. It's the most compelling, addictive and fun footy/combat hybrid I've ever played. Period.