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Review: Speedball for the Commodore 64 – Knock in Teeth and Score

It feels like yesterday Y2k bugs were going to shut down and cripple the entire world as we knew it but it never happened and yet a short fast forward ahead and we find ourselves in the year 2030 and the life  and pastimes that we once knew and loved have been completely futurised…

Welcome to Speedball, a mix of rugby, hockey and football and add a steel speedball with a mind of it’s own.  The most futuristic and violent sport the world has ever seen. No more namby pamby rules for sports, anything goes in 2030, the population want action, they want aggression, they want heart pulsing no questions asked slamming and whamming and they want to see goals, goals, goals scored and they want no interference from the refs!

Speedball game Commodore 64 retro retrogaming sport future review (5)

Futuristic Speedball isn’t played alone you play as a team of 5 bad asses for maximum action and maximum damage.  Select one of three teams to represent, each team has varying heights, weights, skill, power, stamina and speed abilities.  You will have to keep close eye on your team’s attributes because the more strength, stamina and skill you have the better your team will play and be able to withstand those crunching tackles that drain your attributes from you.

Set out on a steel walled, steel floored pitch 160 foot long by 90 foot wide and walls 30 foot high with goals at each end of the rectangular arena, you instantly know winners are grinner’s and losers aren’t going home in one piece. Inside your armour, standing at the centre of the playing arena, your tense, your nervous, you wait impatiently and ready yourself for the rotating speedball launcher  to shoot the speedball in any random direction.

As the spedball is launched you race towards it trying to avoid your opponents who are just as keen as you are to take possession of the speedball but maybe you don’t want to avoid them, maybe your intent is on clobbering them and inflicting as much pain on them right from the very start!

Speedball has got something special up it’s sleeves, it’s addictive, it’s fun, it’s got that ‘one more go’ gameplay, it really is brilliant to play.

Speedball game Commodore 64 retro retrogaming sport future review (4)

Running with the speedball is a dream, however its not just boring run up and down stuff.  If you’re going to be any good and start racking up goal after goal after goal and put your opponents out of the running for league champions you are going to need to pass the speedball to one of your five robot team members.  A short tap of the fire button will pass the speedball at waist height and a longer hold of  the fire button means the speedball will be thrown high over every players head and drop back down again, so you need to practice to master your passing skills and watch with a keen eye where the speedball will land.

It’s not as straight forward as you would think either, because not only do you have to concentrate on inflicting violence and pain and scoring lots of goals, you also have to keep a firm eye on what is happening everywhere as it affects what happens during and after a game is played.

Speedball game Commodore 64 retro retrogaming sport future review (3)

Scattered around the playing arena are two types of tokens.  There is the ‘save and collect’ type.  These are saved and used after each match to improve your team and may include bribe official, bribe timer, extra stamina, bribe trainer, extra skill and extra power.

The other type of tokens that appear are called ‘immediate effect’.  These tokens can have an immediate short term effect on how the game is played and they include freezing your opponents players, or reversing joystick controls, increasing your stamina, decreasing your opponents stamina and speed just to name a few of them.

Speedball game Commodore 64 retro retrogaming sport future review (2)

Your computer opponents are pretty damn good too and they will try every trick in the book to keep possession of the speedball from you.  But your smarter than them, you want that league championship so bad, so you bounce the speedball off walls to shoot at goal, catching your opponents goalie off guard and out of position as he tries to stop you from scoring, or even smarter speedballer’s will bounce it off and deflect it off one of  the immovable structures on the playing field and if you’re really clever and want to bypass your opposition you can pass the speedball through a tunnel that comes out the opposite side of the playing arena.

Being a game converted from 16-bit Amiga, it may have been difficult to recreate and replicate the same high standard but the 8-bit C64 version absolutely rocks.  The music track that plays through out is just fantastic, so crank up the sound level its damn right C64 music heaven adding further appeal to a quality presented game.

Speedball game Commodore 64 retro retrogaming sport future review (1)

The menu and table screens are beautifully captured and gorgeous, you feel a very realistic violent, futuristic scenario.  The grid style playing area adds to the futuristic feel.  Some retro lovers on the internet have mentioned that they are not happy with the grid lines and others have said they don’t like the C64’s Speedball in-game playing graphics, I have read such comments on forums like www.Lemon64.com, but I disagree totally with the users who made those comments.  The in-game playing graphics are realistic enough to suit the game’s atmospheric, futuristic and win at all costs violent themes.  They might be small in size but remember your playing on an 8-bit machine.

Score: 9 out of 10

Pros:

  • Fantastic tunes
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Great fun against a friend
  • Terrific conversion from 16-bit
  • Beautiful scrolling and animation

Cons:

  • The league takes for ever so save and come back to it later
  • When ball is high in the air selecting the player closest to ball gets a little confusing
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