Speedball 2 review - Sega Master System
It is the year 2029 and the grizzly, bloody sport that is Speedball has finally been outlawed. The underground stadiums have been closed down and the game is officially dead. However, the Government realise that as an indirect consequence of Speedball's demise, crime has risen. Therefore, in an effort to return to the stable society of old, they introduce a controlled but yet even more violent game based on the old Speedball. Two special league divisions are swiftly created with new teams assembled from the experienced Speedballers of old along with talented newcomers who fancy their chances.
Just like the original Speedball, the aim of the game itself is to score points. However, in this new game it isn't just putting the ball into the net that provides points. The Speedball authorities have created cunning midfield devices that are used to glean extra points. The once vertically-scrolling pitch has also been replaced by a massive eight-way scrolling stadium. Just like the original game there are no rules, meaning that the game is as heavily reliant on extreme violence as on skill.
You start the game as manager of the worst Speedball II team ever - Brutal Deluxe. Using your managerial skills along with your arcade reflexes, it's your job to guide them to the top of the Speedball league table. Simple... or is it?
What the Mean Machines staff thought
I wasn't really impressed with Speedball on the Master System, but this is a completely different kettle of fish. The original game was quite slow and tedious, but even with the bigger play area that the Master System has to cope with, Speedball II manages to retain the same manic pace as the Amiga classic. The graphics are fine. Obviously, the colour and definition aren't quite as smart as the 16-bit versions, but the actual gameplay remains really close to the original. My one gripe is that the player intelligence isn't quite as advanced as the original versions and with no Kick Off-style scanner, passing the ball is made very difficult because you can't really see where your players are. Other than that though, Speedball II remains an excellent sports sim that should appeal to anyone owning a Master System.
As well as featuring astoundingly good graphics, Speedball II sports fast, exciting and action-packed gameplay, especially in two-player mode. It's slightly tougher than the Megadrive version, not through the computer opponent being more intelligent, but because the Master System team members tend not to read the ball as well as their Megadrive counterparts and consequently they don't set themselves up to catch a long pass. It's not a real problem though, and is easily cured by using short passing tactics. Other than that there's nothing to fault, and sports fans who are after something a little more challenging and brutal than most games of this ilk should check this out immediately.