Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe

Speedball XBLA gets treats

Maps, players, themes, pics.

Empire has revealed plans to release a continual stream of new content for Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe on Live Arcade, a bit like a persistent nosebleed.

Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe

Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe

Ice Cream. Ice Cream.

Cribbed from the 'How to Play' section is possibly the most succinct description of The Bitmap Brothers' 1991 classic ever written, so it bears repeating here: "Speedball 2 is a brutally fast-paced game of two 90 second halves, where points can scored in an instant. You'll need to wrench the ball from the opposition at every opportunity and viciously smash in the scores if you want to emerge victorious."

One of the most beloved of all Amiga games, it succeeds for two reasons: it's so easy to pick up and play, and has that indefinable replay value that makes you want to have another go as soon as one match has finished. Unlike a lot of ham-fisted attempts at future sports, it keeps things incredibly simple. You try and gain possession of a metal ball, and either try your luck running with it, or chuck it to one of your eight team-mates. Plucking it out of the air, you'll face a barrage of burly, armour-clad opponents trying to knock your block off, so possession doesn't last long. Bouncing it off walls, charging down anyone in your path and trying to fire it into the goal is the main meat of Speedball 2, and it's very very addictive. As the name implies, it's hilariously brutal, with the kind of casual violence that would have pressure groups up in arms if they could only see the effect it has on breaktime playground games.

So it's a 180-second game where the most points wins, but gaining those isn't as simple as merely throwing the ball into a goal. Dotted around the rectangular arena are various other score enhancers, such as stars, score multipliers and domes. Hit one of the five stars on the wall and you'll gain two points, hit all five and you'll get a 10-point bonus - and the same in reverse if you switch off your opponent's stars. Elsewhere, the score multiplier adds an extra five or ten points when you score a goal, depending on how many times you've sent the ball whizzing through it. And, finally, if you ever find yourself in space with enough time to pull it off, pinging the ball off the bounce dome gains you two points every time you hit it.

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Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe

Mike Montgomery on today's XBLA release.

Whenever I talk with friends about the top games on the Amiga, a number of games by the Bitmap Brothers inevitably end up on the list. They were truly masters of the 16-bit machine, each of their releases receiving universal acclaim and setting new benchmarks in game design that other developers invariably failed to meet.

Every Extend XBLA this week

Along with Speedball 2.

Every Extend Extra Extreme (E4) and Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe are this week's Xbox Live Arcade releases, and should be waiting for you to fling 800 Microsoft points (GBP 6.80 / EUR 9.30) at both of them this time tomorrow morning.

Speedball 2 Brutal Deluxe

The sport of the future is here and it's on your mobile phone, but are you truly tough enough?

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