Title		Speedball
Game Type	Sport
Company		Imageworks/Mirrorsoft
Developers	The Bitmap Brothers
Players		1 or 2
Compatibility	A500
Submission	Chris Burns

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.

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