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Pixel8Games presents a retrospective of
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
a 1990 videogame by Bitmap Brothers


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Atari ST
Commodore Amiga
Commodore 64 (1991)

The Bitmap Brothers once again provide a slice of escapism into the violent sporting world of the 22nd century as you fight to stay alive, score goals, and win tournaments within your new team, Brutal Deluxe.

Beginning the game is similar to soccer management budgeting by allowing you to upgrade the skills of your players using your current cash flow. This can be done on an individual player basis, a particular area of the team (eg. defence, midfield, etc), or the whole team in general. The upgrades come in the form of speed, power, stamina, etc., and you can accrue extra money for these items during the match in the form of coins left laying around.

Speedball only has the single rule of amassing more points than the other team and, due to the game being forced underground following a corruption scandal, anything else goes. That includes assaulting the opposition through sliding tackles, shoves, or a ball in the mush. The area that you play in is designed for you to bounce the ball off of the walls, and there are panels on these walls that add to the tactical side of the game. You can bounce the ball off of a dome that electrifies it so that for a few seconds it will take out the opposition as it touches them, or you can bounce it against stars or through a chute to multiply your points.

The game runs at a frenetic pace throughout its 180-second span, requiring you to be on your toes at all times because confusion is rife. With nine players on your team, if there's a crowd of players around the ball then you have to know which player is 'on' for you to take control of them. There is an indicator above the player's head for this, but it sometimes gets lost in the ensuing chaos. One of the bug-bears of the game is that the opposition will be heading towards your goal and you'll try to get one of your players to side-tackle them just as the computer puts the goalie in control. You then unwittingly move the goalie out of the way and leave the goal wide open.

Other than that, the simple fact is that when this game first came on to the scene it was incredibly popular, and for good reason. It remains the epitome of irresistible gaming to this day.

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