My Speedball 2 Experiences

Home Forums Previous Months 80 – May 2023: Speedball 2 My Speedball 2 Experiences

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  • sorceress

    G’day dos gamers. I’m back again o/

    I fondly remember the original Speedball game from my Atari/Amiga era, but I never played the sequel before. I was interested to see how it compared, so I gave it a shot for a few hours today.

    I’ll start off talking about Speedball 1, then give my first impressions of Speedball 2 while making some comparisons. ok? 🙂

    SPEEDBALL 1 came out in 1988. It is a very tight game: it has intense gameplay that requires a lot of focus, crisp graphics and clear visuals to communicate what is going on, and pretty responsive controls.

    You start by choosing one of three teams, each of which has slightly different starting stats: Power, Stamina, and Skill. To remain competitive, you need to upgrade these (or downgrade your opponents) throughout your matches by spending coins. Your players can collect these coins while running around in the game arena scoring their goals.

    The matches themselves are a lot like other ****ball computer games of the day, where you play upscreen and the computer plays downscreen. It uses a 5-a-side format. You automatically control the nearest player to the ball, and can tackle/fight with other players by running into them and pressing the fire button. You also throw the ball with the fire button, either to pass it or to attempt a goal.

    In Knockout mode, the matches are best-of-three to stay in, to face the next team. Or in Tournament mode, you do a tour of the 10 other teams and score points over the season. The teams are all named after constellations, like Verna, Tucana, Mira, which complements the futuristic aesthetic of the game nicely.Each team has a unique helmet design, which is also a nice touch.

    That’s pretty much it. It is quite arcadey: Quick to start, intense matches, and with this nice meta mechanic with the coins. I’d give it a respectable 8/10.

    SPEEDBALL 2 came out in 1990/91, and is similar in a lot of ways to the original, but there are some important differences.

    Firstly, you don’t get to choose a team, rather you play as the team Brutal Deluxe, which has pretty weak stats compared with the other teams in the league. To compensate for this, you get to manage individual players rather than the team as a whole. There are now 8 stats that you can customise! It’s a bit overwhelming to me tbh, and I find it departs too far for my liking from the arcadey feel of the original. I’m not really interested in this football-manager-like meta.

    Secondly, although the matches are similar to SB1, they use a 9-a-side format, and each player has well defined roles this time (like midfield, wing, defender, etc). Matches take place on a much larger game arena (about 2x width and 2x length of SB1). This now means horizontal in addition to the vertical scrolling. Everything feels a lot more spread out in this game, such that the nearest player is sometimes off-screen unfortunately, which can make it hard to know which way is towards the ball.

    The updated graphics of SB2 are pretty yet bulky. They’re less clear to read imo, and when combined with the spread-out nature of the game arena and two way scrolling, it’s just hard to know what is going on around you.

    SB2 has music from the group Nation 12, who also wrote the game music for Gods. This accompanies a cinematic intro sequence, briefly covering the backstory for the game, and the developer credits. The intro is bold and presents this image of the developers being confident and at the peak of their career.

    Overall, i’m a bit disappointed by this sequel. It’s not a bad game per se, but it adds nothing worthwhile to the original, while sacrificing some of the things which made SB1 a great game.

    The hype surrounding SB2 is just not backed up with strong enough gameplay. It’s more style over substance, compared with SB1.

    And this reminds me of the difference between Xenon and Xenon II (again from Bitmap Brothers) where the original was tight (intense and arcadey, crisp, clear, responsive, and balanced) while the sequel sacrificed some of this in favour of bigger and bolder graphics, more complicated meta, and a showy soundtrack from a commercial artist.

    So I’ll give it a cautious 6.5/10.


    I haven’t played Speedball 1 or the Xenon games but The Chaos Engine 1 is faaaaar better than the sequel


    I haven’t gotten around to playing them yet (I have a couple of days off atm, so soon!), but from your description I have a feeling I might like SB1 better as well.
    I’m not much of a fan of sports games usually – they need to be pretty arcadey, have little to no “long game”, and preferably have some kind of silly gimmick for me to get into them.
    The only sports game I remember ever playing much of is Nintendo World Cup Soccer, which allows you to totally KO any opposing player with no penalty, and you even have special kicks which border on sci-fi. The only “management” involved in it is choosing player positions before the match and at half time.
    Speedball (well, number one at least) sounds like it is very similar!
    I was debating whether to try it at all, given that this month is about SB2, but you’ve helped me decide that I will!

    As for Xenon and Xenon 2 – I played Xenon 2 when I was a little’un, and a few times since, but I never tried the first one until a few years ago. To me they are apples and oranges – too different to be able to say X2 jumped the shark.

    I never beat Xenon 2 without the cheats (in fact, I’ve never given it a serious go), but I’ve got a soft spot for it. The graphics, as you would expect from the Bitmap Brothers, are fantastic, and the variety of weaponry is fun.

    I could never get my head around Xenon 1 though, and I don’t find the graphics quite up to the usual Bitmap Brothers standards.
    It didn’t help that (to my mind) the PC controls are cumbersome. The mechanics (being able to switch between a spaceship and a tank and having the freedom to go backwards and forwards at will) sound fun on paper, but I just found myself having no idea what I was supposed to do and dying all the time. I probably just need to try it again but with invincibility… It’s only fair, since that’s the only way I’ve been able to enjoy Xenon 2.

    Well, sorry for the brain dump! Just a few loose thoughts I felt I needed to shake out of my head.


    “The hype surrounding SB2 is just not backed up with strong enough gameplay”

    Yes, this is exactly how I feel playing this now. I had expected more from it from what I remembered: Projectyle stays the best future sports game ever!


    So, for the record, I finally had a go at both speedball games.
    TBH, I actually liked the in-match gameplay of SB2 a little better, although the difference was not major. The slicker graphics and animations and larger field size I think just felt nicer.

    But I still agree with you, sorceress – the management meta-game was not my cup of tea. I preferred the straightforwardness of SB1 in that respect.

    To be fair, I only put at most an hour into each game, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.

    Mr Creosote

    I used to be a big defender of the first one over the sequel as well. Though about 10 years ago, I changed my mind fundamentally.

    I really love the match music in the first Speedball and its absence in the second was hugely disappointment. Yet, finally, I realized that the larger playfields in Speedball II allow for amazingly nice maneuvers. Strings of passing the ball on feel really good, and the AI controlled players of your own team enable this smartly through intelligent placement and movement.

    The team management, admittedly, is a little overcomplex. But, really, you don’t need 90% of it. Simply buying those star players when they become available is the best strategy. So all the upgrading of individual attributes is unnecessary.

    My write-ups about the games:

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Home Forums Previous Months 80 – May 2023: Speedball 2 My Speedball 2 Experiences