Speedball 1 logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Image Works
Price: £24.99

Question: What do you get if you cross football with rugby, rollerball, and throw in a bit of Brockian Ultra Cricket for a good measure? Answer: Speedball. Probably one of the best games yet to grace the Amiga Brockian Ultra Cricket?! - Ed).

In Speedball, you control a gang of five 'ballers', in what is the game of the future (where have I heard that one before?) The basic rules are pretty straightforward. The play area is a steel-wall encased arena with a goal at either end. Two teams compete, and the aim is to get the ball into the opponent's goal more often than the opposing side. 'Funny game, you say, isn't that just like football?'

The ball is carried, and after that there are no rules as such because once you get the ball you've got to try and stop your opponent from robbing you and basically he doesn't care how he gets it. The best way to go about this, and in effect one of the only two ways to do it, is to slug the nearest opposing player right across the chops. This effectively gets him out of the way for a few seconds and gives you a bit of breathing space. After that you should belt up the pitch and whizz the ball in the back of the net.

Speedball is amazingly violent. You can beat up other players to make it just that little easier to get to the goal. The off-the-ball tackling makes Paul Davies look like Ronald McDonald. More importantly, you can beat up the goalie, which makes it easier to score than aiming a half chance at Bobby Mimms. Naturally, the opponent will do the same thing to you, which just adds to the fun.

In a game as warped and violent as this one, corruption naturally fits in quite nicely, and corruption there is. At various points, items will appear on the track. These range from weapon tiles, which basically turn the ball into a weapon, effectively knocking out any opposing players who try to catch it, through to an item that reverses the opponent's control - just like a tab oc ecstasy.

You can also pick up credits and this is where the dodgy dealing comes in. Credits are useful things. Credits can be used to buy extra time, a useful investment if you are just one goal behind at the end of a game. They can also be used to buy extra goals, bribe officials, reduce the opposition's skill, and increase your own.

Speedball also comes complete with a wide and extensive set of options. These range from starting a league or knockout championship against the computer, or playing a two player league that can last anything up to 100 weeks. Thankfully there's a full save/load option.

Graphics are fab. The vertical scrolling of the pitch is amazingly smooth and the full screen format works really well. The definition of the characters is very clear, and the photographs you get of the leader of each team, and the fist which impatiently pounds an armoured leg whilst the game waits for you to make a decision is comic book quality.

Sound takes the form of a particularly boppy tune and some nice sampled effects for ricochets, tackles and goals. It's all pretty atmospheric stuff, and the horn which sounds at the end is a gas.

If you haven't got an Amiga this could provide the incentive to go out and buy one. It's the most compelling, addictive and fun footy/combat hybrid I've every played. Period.


Speedball 1 logo Zzap! Sizzler

Imageworks, Amiga £24.99 disk

The time is the future. The Earth's atmosphere has all but disappeared - filled to breaking point with noxious substances. Normal outdoor sports have ceased to exist, so a new type of sport has been invented: Speedball.

The game takes place in a fully contained metal arena with a goal at either end. There are two teams of five players, the idea being to score as many goals as possible in the allotted time. You play the part of one of the team captains choosing to play in a solo league, knockout championship or against another player.

Normal ball-sport rules don't play any more. Tubbing the opposition is the only thing that counts, so you must win by thumping, tripping and fighting your way into the lead. The game creators and judges felt that this itself wouldn't attract huge crowds, so they added extra excitement in the form of pick-ups, which affect the players in certain ways (see TILES box).

Since work is scarce, people will get hold of money in any way they can. This includes Speedball judges and officials, who will accept bribes in exchange for dirty tricks (see BRIBES box), so the result at the end of a match can change, too...


BRIBES AND PURCHASES
Credits: Item:
2 Bribe official
3 Increase stamine
4 Bribe timer
4 Bribe trainer
4 Extra skill
4 Reduce opponent's stamine
6 Extra power
6 Reduce skill
6 Bribe Ref
7 Reduce power
PICK-UP TILES
D - Decrease opponent's stamine
S - Increase your stamine
F - Freeze opponent (10 second timer)
M - Eight directional mine
E - Single directional mine
P - Protect against tackle
G - Get ball automatically
J - Reverse joystick direction (10 second timer)
? - Slow down opponents
Gordon Houghton
By the looks of things, the Bitmap Brothers are becoming a force to be reckoned with, what with Xenon already under their belts and now this! Speedball is brilliant - superb graphics, excellent gameplay and wonderful presentation. What more could you ask? Let's start with the visuals... well, Bitmap certainly know how to program graphics, that's for sure! Everything looks as if you could reach into the screen and touch it. Playing the game is as much of a joy as looking at the graphics. The action is fast and competitive and will keep sports fans playing for a long time: what I really liked was the fact that there are no real rules - you can bribe people for extra time or to change the result, or you can simply punch somebody in the gob to get the ball off them! No questions - just buy it!

Maff Evans
If you're a regular ZZAP! reader, you may remember that I was particularly looking forward to this, being a fan of the Bitmap Brothers' last masterpiece, saying 'Lets hope it's as good as Xenon, Guys'. Well I'm glad to say that it's every bit as good and then some. The graphics put their last game to shame, looking about as solid as the Amiga will allow. I was amazed when I saw the opening sequence with the player tapping his leg, complete with a metallic clunk. The game itself is incredibly playable, more so than any other computer ball-sport - even International Basketball - and from me that's saying something!