Speedball 2 HD is "the best version that's ever been available on PC"

And it's coming to Steam on 5th December for 7.

Jon "Sensible Software" Hare told me an hour ago that "the PC hasn't had a decent version of Speedball maybe ever - certainly for a long time". That's why he's masterminded a new version called Speedball 2 HD, which is coincidentally "the best version of Speedball that's ever been available on the PC".

It's coming out on 5th December on Steam priced $9.99/6.99/€7.99.

What's so good about it? Speedball 2 HD has the fast, tight gameplay of the original with some new features and tarted up graphics.

It's the product of about a year's work by little Polish team Vivid Games, working under Hare's watchful eye. And Speedball 2 HD builds on lots of very good work done on recent mobile conversions of the game.

The guts of the original Amiga game were taken out and the graphics treated a couple of times to get them into HD. But the 2D look remains.

"The 3D version last time kind of proved it didn't work," Hare said, referencing the 2007 Speedball 2 Tournament, which "oh my god yes", Speedball 2 HD will be better than.

"Some games don't convert to 3D very well and Speedball is one of them."

The original graphics are enhanced and special effects - "sparkles and s*** like that" - added for power-ups.

The new bits include formations - attacking, defensive and very defensive - that you can swap on the fly, and that the AI will use as well. There's also a new competition structure - a kind of Champion's League that features elite teams from different planets. You'll fly off to meet them on their home planets of ice, fire and "cyber", and they'll look very different indeed (although they'll play the same).

There's a Europa League-style tournament that will give you a taste of the aliens as well. Tournaments, teams and stadiums will be unlocked along the way. You can also customise your own leagues and tournaments and stuff in up to eight human-controlled teams.

There's same-machine one-on-one multiplayer - using keyboard or "joypad", as Jon Hare calls them - but there's no online multiplayer.

"We've tried it before with Sensible Soccer (Xbox Live) and there are problems with very fast games with lag," he explained. "It's something which we would consider doing in an update but it's not done in this version."

The team has doubled-down on controls and "there's little bits of Sensible Soccer in there", in terms of player selection and throwing and things.

Speedball 2 HD being on PC and playable on plugged in controllers (or "joypads" or "joysticks" if you're Jon Hare) also makes it "better than any touch-screen version can be". "The game was designed for joysticks; it's the way the game was meant to be."

Jon Hare is also hopeful that an older Steam crowd will remember Speedball 2 as fondly as he does.

"It's my favourite Bitmap Brothers game," he said. "It was one of my favourite games of all time on the Amiga, which is the main reason I wanted to do it! And the thing is, underlyingly, no matter what we do with this Steam version: it's a great game.

"All we've tried to do with this version is bring that great game forward on a new platform - you don't need to much with a great game, just not f*** it up."

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