Flashback Feature for February 2007 focuses on the classic future sports title, Speedball 2. As the manager of the lowly ranked side Brutal Deluxe, you must win your way up to the top division and then claim the championship. The catch is that you only have two seasons in which to do so, therefore it really becomes win at all costs. Failure to earn promotion from the 2nd division in your first season is automatic game over. Failure to win the 1st division title is also game over. Actually, there isn’t any reward for winning either, as this also leads to game over…
In addition to the league mode, there is also a knockout, a cup competition and a practice mode. Depending on the mode you select, you will be able to upgrade your players in the gym or purchase new talent on the transfer market. Money is secured, not by winning, but by picking it up during a match. This requires the player to keep a careful balance between point scoring and money earning.
Speaking of scoring, Speedball 2 features several ways to keep the scoreboard ticking over. First and foremost, there are goals. Setup like a football field, the pitch features goals at each end, both guarded by a goalie. In addition, there are two types of ball activated scoring. Firstly, between each goal and the halfway are pads that, when struck by the ball, will earn points and send the ball ricocheting away. Secondly, situated along each sideline are rows of five stars. These are activated by bouncing the ball against them. When all five are lit an additional points bonus is scored. The interesting thing about the stars is they can be deactivated by the opposition. The final (and most brutal) scoring method is to injure a member of the opposition team. This will earn you the equivalent of a goal.
Changing the scoring dynamic further is the score multiplier. Located adjacent to each team’s row of five stars, these multipliers are activated by throwing the ball through a loop either once (for 1.5 times the points) or twice (for 2 times the points). These multipliers apply to all the above scoring methods.
Each match is divided into two 90 second halves, which means the action is fast paced, tense and action packed. Controls are extremely simple, requiring merely the use of the D-Pad and a single button. This helps makes two player games an easy proposition.
Speedball 2 has featured on many systems, with the Mega Drive, Amiga and PC versions all looking and sounding fairly similar as well as playing almost identically. The most recent port was to the GameBoy Advance. It did receive a sequel — in the form of Speedball 2100 — but it was not of the same quality. The best modern alternative would probably be Dead Ball Zone on the PlayStation, which adds more options but features a similar league promotion structure, along with the addition of Weapons and Chainsaws.