Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Julian Boardman? Speed? Ball? C'mon, be serious.
Future sports are starting to see something of a renaissance on the consoles. In Japan, at the moment, one of tha big games is something called Wrestleball, which certainly gives more than a nod in the direction of Speedball.
Speedball itself was voted 16-bit Game of the Year in 1989, and enjoys something of a hallowed status in the industry as a whole as it opened up a whole new genre of game. Even stranger is the fact that, until now, 'future sports' have not appeared on consoles and the release of Speedball on the Master System is an odd place to launch them. Still, who are we to theorize over the actions of Robert Maxwell's software label when we can't even get the Reviews Index right each month!
Sometime in the distant future, the world has had enough of wars, so instead they turn to Speedball, a no-holds-barred sport with more violence than beans on toast in a microwave. The objective of the sport is to score as many goals as possible, but there are no restrictions on how many fouls, tackles, knees in the groin and two fingers in the eyeballs you commit along the way to get past the five opposing players.
Your iron-clad players can slide tackle, jump or throw. Throws can be either high or low, depending on how long the fire button is pressed. Indeed, all the control systems and on-pitch bonuses have remained faithful to the original.
The bonuses available to collect during the match appear at random intervals in random places. You can freeze your opponent, reverse his controls, etc. Coins also find their way onto the pitch, and collection of these can prove useful at the end of a match, when you bribe officials to alter the timer add an extra goal, sap your opponent's stamina, etc.
In 1989, Speedball was the essential game to have for 16-bit owners; now in 1991 it's the essential game for the Sega MS.
✔ Superb animation.
✔ Unparalleled sprite quality.
✔ Digitized sound effects.
✔ Groovy tune.
✘ Controller hinders movement of players.
✔ Fast furious and funny frolics.
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