Continuing a semi-regular highlight of gaming titles, today I spotted mention on a retro forum about the love of Sensible Soccer and Speedball 2 – which in turn prompted me to dig out Speedball 2 on the Commodore 64.
Generally when sports games are highlighted on the C64 and which are the best, generally for football you get the likes of Microprose Soccer and Emlyn Hughes International Soccer listed. For Golf, World Class Leaderboard and for multi game events, pretty much all the Epyx titles.
Sadly Speedball 2 has never really received the full attention it deserved, which might be due to the fact that it was released so late into the C64’s commercial life when many had upgraded to the likes of the Amiga or 16-bit consoles in 1991. It was also one of the last Imageworks titles before Mirrorsoft went under.
Luckily I was around to enjoy the game, playing the preview demo on Commodore Format’s tape covermount to death.
The game (if you haven’t played it before), is a mix of football and rugby set in the future, where you must bash your opponents on the playing field and score as many goals as possible. Scoring goals will give you 10 points in total, but you can pick up various multipliers, and score points off wall panels.
Spread throughout the game are numerous power-ups to speed you up or slow down your opposition, give you extra strength and turn the ball into an object your enemy cannot hold, so firing it towards goal will go straight through their keeper. Picking up the various credits too will help you at intervals between games to build up your team and add to their armour, speed and strength – which you’ll need against later teams in the game.
The game comes with a variety of modes, Knockout, Cup, League and 2 player. Plenty to keep you going into the night.
What’s particularly impressive about the C64 conversion is that the game’s developer, Carl Muller, managed to cram everything into a single 64k load. Apart from the separate intro sequence, the game itself once loaded requires no additional loading for teams/games or anything else. The game also features some cool music and sfx by Martin Walker (Which was to be his last work on the machine). Of course, Carl did have to cut out some materials – but we’re talking more visual cut downs than anything.
Compared to the Amiga version also, the game benefits from having smaller main characters and being of a slightly faster pace. Even reviewers at the time made it clear that it was in most ways better than the original Bitmap Bros game – a huge compliment to Carl’s hard work.
If you want a good showcase of an 8-bit sports game, then check it out. In many ways I prefer this to the likes of Microprose Soccer/Emlyn Hughes.