Speed Ball 2 - Brutal Deluxe

a game by Mirrorsoft, Arena, and The Bitmap Brothers
Genres: Action, Sports
Platforms: Sega GenesisGenesis, PC
Editor Rating: 7.7/10, based on 3 reviews, 4 reviews are shown
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 2 votes
Rate this game:
See also: Futuristic Racing Games
  • Type: Sport
  • Available: Autumn 1991
  • Difficulty: Hard

The popular PC game of the same name is soon to be released on the Genesis. This cart has you dashing around the playing field after the ball trying to get it past the goal post. This is obviously not as easy as it seems. The other players can attack your teammates at any time! This doesn't mean you cant attack-of course. Before the game, you can adjust your stats and modify to make your strengths. Time to rock!

People say:

4

While I give this game a couple of points for at least trying to give us something new and different, the execution and control just don't deliver. The futuristic sport doesn't really get you excited in the way a football title might even though it's a nice try it comes up short.

5

Speedball 2 is a challenging futuristic soccer/rugby-type game. To me it is a lot like Power Ball and while the action is intense and the game play good, there is not that much difference between the two games. Needs more color and sound otherwise it's OK.

4

Speedball 2 is an OK computer game to port over to the Genesis. But the game still plays like a computer game and that isn't too great. The graphics are yet good yet very choppy and the there isn't any background music. Not one of the better sports game available.

5

Speedball 2 - another name for a fast sphere of energy that you chase around, smacking opponents and laying them out on their respective duffs. Sound exciting, probably not, because this has been done too many times before. Oh well, creativity is hard to find.

Download Speed Ball 2 - Brutal Deluxe

Genesis

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Game modes: Single game mode

Player controls:

  • Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
  • Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
  • "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
  • "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
  • "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)

Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Games That Changed The World

Back in the late’80s, the era known to industry veterans as The Golden Age of Gaming, few games could ever have claimed to be as exquisitely well balanced as the futuristic sports phenomenon that was Speedball. There wasn’t a single thing wrong with it, from pace to control to content. To look at Speedball was to witness a game that had surely spent countless months being debated in development meetings, having had every nuance tweaked and tested until they were perfect. Well, not quite. "We all went down the pub one afternoon and designed Speedball on the back of a packet of Silk Cut," reveals Mike Montgomery. Montgomery was one of the three founders of the legendary Bitmap Brothers, and the "we" in question refers to himself, Steve Kelly and Eric Matthews. "Mastertronic asked us to do a game based on real tennis," he remembers. "Eric did a hell of a lot of research into it and we took it all back to them only for them to change their mind. It’s a real downer when you’re first starting to have someone promise a load of work only to have it taken away again."

"Real tennis is played on a tennis court but you can hit the ball up and across all these sloping roofs all around you," says Matthews about the project. "So lots of things came into that basic idea: football, contact sports, the use of goals. It all went into the mix, then we skewed it towards the future and added a whole Rollerball thing, a physical violence element with cool characters and so on." As Montgomery adds: "We just thought there were too many bloody rules in the thing. We wanted to invent a sports game that wasn’t so complicated."

Humble Beginnings

So it was, that in the later months of 1988 that the original Speedball was born. Judged by what was to follow, it could be seen as a pretty basic affair. A simplistic top-down affair on a pretty limited vertically scrolling pitch. Five-a-side, two goals and a couple of bounce domes. But the gameplay was there in spades. It took a while for the Bitmaps to find a publisher but eventually Mirrorsoft took the risk and the fledgling developers never looked back. "We didn’t get an office until after the Mirrorsoft deal," says Matthews. "Speedball was all done from Steve’s house where he’d have this big chart on the wall which was basically the pitch with all the players marked out on that. It was all worked out on the walls and floor with bits of paper. Terribly sophisticated." Luckily the game hit the big time, far bigger than anyone had been expecting. With Speedball finished, the team started to grow and began work on other projects, such as a sequel to their first ever game, the hit shoot ’em up Xenon. Although there was never any real intention to write a Speedball follow-up, the concept was never far from their minds. "There was always a sense that there was more to be done with the game," says Matthews.

"Like most things," muses Montgomery, "when you start writing games, you get them up to the highest level of technology you can in the time allowed, because everything’s done to a budget - not that we took much notice of budgets and stuff. But you always feel as though you can do much better, so it was nice to have the opportunity to have another go at it."

Brutal deluxe

With the decision to make a sequel confirmed, work began at the end of 1989. The original team had grown somewhat since then and with Mark Coleman, the original’s artist, still working out of his house somewhere in Wales, a new eye was brought in to give Speedball 2 its visual style.

"I was given a bit of a freehand visually," says Dan Malone of his first job with the team. "The main thing was that we were changing the viewing angle from the first game, trying to show as much of the player as possible rather than the straight top-down view. That was the only real stipulation. Not quite isometric but a sort of forced perspective."

Speedball 2 was to be a sequel in the truest sense of the world. Bigger, faster and better than the original, while still retaining the basic concept and well-balanced gameplay. For Matthews this meant opening the pitch beyond the basic vertically scrolling arena of the original.

"In Speedball you could almost just throw the ball from one end of the pitch to the other," he says. "Speedball 2 added that sense of really working your way into the other player’s half that you get in sports like football. That really powerful emotion you get when running with the player and making passes."

"Obviously we wanted more pitch features than there were in Speedball" continues Malone, "and so it was just a case of doodling some ideas out and sticking them in, seeing if they worked. It was mainly just trial and error. There was talk of having the bounce pins moving for instance, but that didn’t really work."

Fun And Games

What resulted was one of the finest sports games ever to appear on a computer. The first appearance of eight-way scrolling - vertically, horizontally and diagonally - a host of power-up options with effects such as freezing your opponents or reversing their joystick, and the addition of alternative scoring options such as the stars and multipliers. The press took to it immediately, showering the Bitmaps with more awards than they could carry and positive reviews appeared everywhere. More importantly though, the public loved it. "It was probably the second most successful game the Bitmaps ever did," says Matthews. Montgomery agrees: "The Speedball franchise set the Bitmaps up, and Speedball 2 was probably our best product."

Were the team able to enjoy the game themselves though? Would spending so much time creating it lead to utter boredom when asked to play it? "Let’s put it this way," grins Montgomery, "we got through so many joysticks playing it in the office that we had to get a hardware sponsor in the end. We used to get through cases of them."

"We had office tournaments as we’d always be playing it and testing it," remembers Malone. "It’s great when that happens on a game and there was a lot of that going on." So who was the office champ? No argument on that one. "Eric was the best, definitely," claim both Montgomery and Malone.

"Yeah, I was pretty good at it," admits Matthews quite modestly. "I remember having to turn up at various games magazines so people could challenge me, which was always scary because there were some people out there who were really good at it. Magazine journalists in particular seemed to be pretty good at it, so we took great pleasure in beating them. I particularly remember kicking Stuart Campbell up in the air once. That was pretty good."

Kicked Into Touch

All things fade in the end and Speedball was no exception. As the team continued to grow, attention turned to other projects: Magic Pockets, Cadaver, the Chaos Engine series, Z. Eventually the original team drifted into other areas and that seemed to signal an end for the Bitmaps. Indeed almost seven years passed before they made a return to the gaming world with the sci-fi RTS romp, Z. Legends never die though, and the legacy of what the team achieved with Speedball continued to filter through the rest of the industry, "Speedball probably made football games better because they all had to compete with us," reflects Montgomery. "We’re friends with the Sensible guys who made Sensible Soccer which is probably one of the best football games ever. Whether Sensi was influenced by us I don't know. I’ll have to ask them next time we meet," he laughs.

Matthews is more confident about it. "If you ask Jon Hare [founder of Sensible Software) what his main influences were for Sens/ Soccer, he’ll freely admit they were Kick Off and Speed ball 2," he says. "As a result I think we probably influenced a lot of other games in a weird, indirect way." No one was ever able to directly compete though. "Many people have just tried to copy us and failed," warns Montgomery. "Only Speedball is Speedball really."

The Future: Where Do We Go From Here?

Benefactor With Deep Pockets Needed

Despite the lasting success of Speedball, there hasn’t really been much more to add to the floundering genre of future sports - unless you’re willing to count games such as Unreal Tournament (which we don’t). Both Matthews and Montgomery are in no doubt as to why.

"If you went to most publishers now and said you wanted to write a future sports game they’d say they weren’t interested," explains Matthews wearily. "It’s because they’re not familiar. If you look at current gaming trends you’re seeing a return to contemporary, realistic environments or historical ones. The future is difficult to sell."

Montgomery agrees: "I think there’d be a lot more 'future sports’ games if publishers actually believed in future sports games. They don’t. They all want realistic football games and stuff like that. There’s a lot of talent out there that could actually probably write futuristic sports games and really enjoy it. Unfortunately people have tried to copy Speedball and failed, so maybe it will only ever be a one-off."

There are attempts in the works though. Proball is a fun Quake III Arena mod that captured the attention of the ZONE office about a year ago. It’s still out there though and the limited number of servers do still attract players. Meanwhile Deathrow is a Swedish title heading to the Xbox, which mixes Speedball with all those ninja-kicking games that console types seem to love so much.

But what of the original? Aside from the GBA version of Speedball 2, due out in August, the Bitmaps have done a sizeable amount of work on Speedball Arena - the name being given to the all-3D 21st-century update. Unfortunately there’s a small fly in the ointment. "We’re still looking for a publisher for it," he explains. "We haven’t stopped work on it, but we have slowed down as there are several other projects we need to do more immediate work on. We’ve had a few offers but they haven’t been right, so it’s a case of finding the right publisher for us. It’s fair to say that from whenever we get started again, we’ll be 15 months away from finishing it."

Anyone with a couple of million in the bank and a willingness to take a risk on a classic should get in touch.

It's a blend of football and soccer with some hard hitting action. Pick different players and teams. Score big points on this one!

There's a problem with this game. It installs fine, but when you run it, you get a "WARNING: checksum incorrect" and a hard reset.

Snapshots and Media

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Screenshots

PC Screenshots

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