Title Speedball Game Type Sport Company Imageworks/Mirrorsoft Developers The Bitmap Brothers Players 1 or 2 Compatibility A500 Submission Chris Burns Review Ahh, the Bitmap Brothers' second game and the follow up to the worthy shoot 'em up, Xenon. The two games are actually quite graphically similar; Speedball utilises the same sort of "reflective steel" backgrounds that Xenon used and established the Bitmaps' reputation for metallic graphics. The game, for those of you that have been working in a Martian mining colony for the last decade, is simple enough. In the nearish future, sport has become violent and corrupt and Speedball is the ultimate game, where heavily armoured teams attempt to punch, kick and juggernaut a steel ball into the opponents goal. The only rule is to win! You can either play one or two player and, as ever, playing your mates over a few beers is the most fun! If you're playing one player, you get to choose one of three teams (Verna, Lacerta or Draco) to be the one that you will guide to glory. It doesn't really matter which you choose, it all depends on whether you like the look of the team captain or not! When playing one player you can either take part in the Knock Out competition or the League, the length of which you can adjust from being 10 to 100 weeks long! The game, viewed from an overhead perspective, takes place in a steel arena, which is one screen wide by two screens high. At each end there's a goal (of course) and on either side there's an opening which, if you throw the ball into it, will teleport the ball so that it springs out of the opening on the other side. There are a number of domes on the pitch which you can bounce the ball off to fox opposing (and usually your own) players. The number and position of these domes vary as you tour the other Speedball teams' grounds. The teams line up around a central pit which opens to reveal a ball launcher. The launcher rotates a few times, fires the steel ball at a random angle, then disappears down the closing pit. That's the cue for a subtle blend of extreme violence and REALLY extreme violence to take place! As mentioned, the object of the game is to batter the opposing team into submission and score more goals than them. Unlike Speedball 2, there's no way you can beat up your opponents so badly that they get stretchered off, and there's no ice cream seller either! Swizz! :-) To help you though, there's plenty of money and fun bonus tiles (that for example immediately give you possession or shoot false balls all over the place to confuse your opponents) which appear regularly on the pitch. When your team doesn't have the ball, the active player is the one nearest to it, which means of course that as the ball travels up or down the pitch, the active player changes. This is slightly tricky to get used to at first as there's been plenty of times where I've been chasing the ball, just to find that the player I'm controlling has become inactive as another player becomes nearer to the ball and I've frantically looked for the new active player. It all adds to the frenetic pace though. At half-time, if you're not doing quite as well as you'd have liked, you can choose to bribe the timekeeper, referee or trainer using the money you've collected on the pitch. If you're especially nasty you can also use the money to reduce your opponents skill, stamina or power. I remember the first time I played this with a mate being a bit apologetic about doing this - Speedball is no place for anyone with a conscience! :-) If you're feeling constructive though, you can spend the money on enhancing your own team's attributes, either during half-time or after the match. I don't have any real criticisms of Speedball; it's a good idea, great entertainment and very neatly executed by any standard, let alone 1988's. However, it's rare that a game is so emphatically overshadowed by it's own sequel that it's no longer worth getting, but that's what has happened here. There's nothing wrong with Speedball, but it's a bit basic compared to Speedball 2. A shame, but since Speedball was one of those groundbreaking games it definitely deserves a place on the AGDB and if you spot it, it's worth playing just to experience history.