Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Gazza cried because he received a yellow card - how would he react if a solid metal ball hit his face at 80 miles per hour? Speedball is that sort of game: fast, violent, and skillful, and makes rugby look like an 80-minute knitting session.
Set in a jaded future, the sport of Speedball pits two teams of five armoured men against each other, with the object of hurling the ball past the opponent's goal keeper to score points. It's a battle of wits, muscles, and power gloves - but skill is the deciding factor.
To liven things up (as if they needed further livening up), power-up tokens appear on the pitch, and these speed up your players, reverse the controls, give one team immediate possession, or do something even more exotic. Coins, however, have a different effect, as explained elsewhere in the review.
Not for the faint-hearted, Speedball offers bloody laughs for its players - are you game?
As well as effect tokens, coins turn up on the pitch from time to time. These are well worth collecting, as at the end of each half they can be used to bribe the officials for extra time, or to increase the skills and stamina of the team. Obviously coins aren't worth grabbing if it means missing an opportunity to shoot at goal, but at other times pick them up - it can mean the difference between winning and losing!
The influence for this game is definitely the film, Rollerball. Starring James Caan, Rollerball was a sport devised by the powers-that-be of the future to pacify the masses and keep their minds off the events of their corporate-run world. The playing area was a huge inverted dome, around which the teams would race, some on motorbikes, some on rollerskates. As the film continues, the rules are gradually relaxed to create more "excitement", and, not surprisingly, more fatalities. A mixture of action and social comment, Rollerball is one to watch - provided you're old enough for the 18 certificate!
Speedball is one of those games that adds another dimension to console software; it's relatively original, exciting to play, and it has a sense of humour. After ploughing through a plethora of staid shoot em ups and cretinous cute platform games, this comes as a breath of fresh air to me. My minor criticism is that the speed of the game isn't quite what I'd hoped for; when it's the name of the game, I expected the action to be more fast-paced. It makes tittle difference to the enjoyability though, and this is a superb two-player game. No rules means no limit to the fun - if you've got a friend to play against on a regular basis, make sure you check out this thrilling game.
This is a game of two halves, and no mistake. As a simultaneous two-player game it's superb, combining fast and furious (and pretty violent) gameplay with excellent graphics! However, when you play it on single player mode, it's virtually useless. The computer team is a complete joke - I beat him 10-0 on my first game, and continued to win time and time again until I gave up with disgust. It's a massive shame - if this had been playtested properly and given a decent computer opponent, it would be utterly brilliant. As it stands it's recommended only if you always have a second player on hand. If you're likely to be playing on your own, give it a miss. There simply isn't enough challenge to keep you occupied for more than a few hours.