back to article Globe grabbin,’ sphere slammin’, orb-tossin’, pill poppin’... Speedball

When the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST together ruled the home computing scene, video games were a long way from the million dollar money-spinners they have become. Getting public and media attention for a game wasn’t easy, but one of the more effective techniques employed by game designers was to create titles that took ‘ …

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  1. GregC

    SB2 remains one of my all time favourites

    It just had that elusive something in the gameplay, where everything gels together just right. The best was a league season in two player - you got to cheer your mate on when he was playing, then do your level best to beat the crap out of each other when the head to head fixture came up.

    I would get lost in a fog of nostalgia at this point, but happily I still play it every now and then on the Vita. Hasn't got the 2 player appeal these days, but it's still an absolute blast. And "Ice Cream! Ice Cream!" still puts a smile on my face, especially when it's during a break because I've successfully knocked out the opposition centre forward.

    Great, great game :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: SB2 remains one of my all time favourites

      I too LOVED this game. The game play was so addictive. IIRC I wasn't addicted to a game in quite the same way until the first Wipeout.

      1. tony72

        Re: SB2 remains one of my all time favourites

        Playing SpeedBall 2 on my mate's Amiga convinced me of the absolute necessity to buy an Amiga.

  2. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Best. Game. Ever.

    This game destroyed more joysticks than any other game in existence.

    Scoring goals wasn't initially too crucial to my style of play, I preferred to fight non-stop for control of the score multipliers, and then gang up on on CM, CD and the goalie - get the ball, throw it to the other team and then beat the crap out of the guy that catches it until you get the ball back.

    Once each of those three positions has been subbed off (money + points), spend the rest of your time scoring as many goals as possible (more money) and grabbing every little coin that appears (even more money). Spend your money on aggression, speed and power upgrades for your team, so you can hurt them quicker next time.

    One of the best things about it was that although your initial squad was full of low skilled no-hopers in division 2, you couldn't improve the players you bought as much as the initial squad, so in order to compete in division 1 you needed to completely own division 2 without buying useless division 2 "star players" that would be passengers when promoted. You also need to make enough money over division 2 in order to get your players to a good enough level - crazy hard.

    Brutal Deluxe!

    1. Raumkraut

      Re: Best. Game. Ever.

      I always used to farm Revolver matches. Score a goal or two, then just grab the ball with your fastest player, and run round collecting any cash that shows up. If you're practised/cocky enough, you could do the same with the second-worst team, but I forget what they were called.

    2. Tom Servo
      Mushroom

      Re: Best. Game. Ever.

      "This game destroyed more joysticks than any other game in existence"

      Ahem - Daley Thompson would like to have a word with you.

      Can't tell you how many kempstons I went through on the original Spectrum because of DT Decathlon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Best. Game. Ever.

        And keyboards.....for those of us without a joystick interface. Think I went through at least one....

      2. GregC

        Re: Daley Thompson & joysticks

        Like, I'm sure, many others I discovered that when playing Decathlon with an Atari joystick the most efficient method was palm of hand on top of joystick, and waggle.

        Shortly after that I discovered that as a 14 year old boy, explaining that a blister on the palm of your right hand was joystick related was, well, interesting....

      3. Lord Lien

        Re: Best. Game. Ever.

        Track & Field came before DTD if memory serves me right. Went through a few keyboards with that game.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Track_%26_Field_(video_game)

        Both good games :)

        * Edit just done my home work, DTD was released on the home computer before Track & Field. There you go, what does this old fart know lol

        1. DaneB

          Re: Best. Game. Ever.

          Those games were good, but not good for you. What about the arcade machines... used to get thrashed.

    3. lurker

      RE: Daley Thompson & joysticks

      Those QuickShot IIs just couldn't sustain that kind of abuse, I must have killed a few before I discovered the glorious (and basically indestructible) sure shot, and later the almost as rugged (and slightly more flexible) competition pro range.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: RE: Daley Thompson & joysticks

        Which is why I invested in two gamepads when they came out.

        Since they had carbon pads for connections, you could rub back and forth over the top with the end of a hairbrush to completely max out the speed bar,

        Although pausing to throw a fucking javelin was a much harder prospect :)

      2. Little_Crow

        Re: RE: Daley Thompson & joysticks

        Quickshot II's (Had an original and a Turbo) were great for any of the joystick waggle-o-thon's. They were chunky and comfortable, but unfortunately couldn't really handle the abuse.

        For everything else my weapon of choice was the zipstik. I probably still have it somewhere, and I bet the steel-shafted, yellow buttoned beast still works.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: RE: Daley Thompson & joysticks

          I think Quickshot 2 came with my C64, and after several other destroyed joysticks (including the Turbo) I settled on TAC-2. It was durable, simple and accurate.

        2. AbelSoul

          Re: RE: Daley Thompson & joysticks

          > "... the zipstik. I probably still have it somewhere, and I bet the steel-shafted, yellow buttoned beast still works."

          The good, old Zipstick! Came across one in the loft the other week, along with an old Amiga1200 (and a "Bug" joystick, if anyone remembers those). Might just have to dust it all off and see if it still goes.

  3. Irongut
    Thumb Up

    Speedball 2 was a superb game, possibly the best 2 player I've ever played. As well as the Amiga & ST there were also versions for the previous generation of home micros. I used to practice solo on my Speccy for multiplayer matches on my mate's Amiga. Good times.

    1. cyborg

      I didn't think there was a Spectrum version?

      1. DaneB
        WTF?

        Neither did I. Where?

  4. roselan
    Pint

    ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM!

    Nuff said ;)

  5. Tommy Pock

    3rd best two-player game on the Amiga

    behind Kick Off 2 and Ballblazer

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: 3rd best two-player game on the Amiga

      OMG Ballblazer on the Atari 800 - absolutely mental fun :D

  6. Dave 126 Silver badge

    The Bitmap Brothers

    I loved their art style across all of their games.... Xenon 2, Gods, The Chaos Engine, Speedball 2... I owned a PC, so I missed out on much of the audio richness of the Amiga / ST versions, though. I never played 'Z', (I must have been too busy with Doom and Carmageddon) but I see it's been remade by the community: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z_(computer_game)#The_Zod_Engine_.28Remake.29

    Along with Team 17, Codemasters and Sensible Software, it was a golden age of gaming.

    1. Rob

      Re: The Bitmap Brothers

      Sorry I can only give you one up vote.

      I think I owned all of the Bitmap Brother games, I was addicted to the artwork. The Chaos Engine was my definition of Steam Punk back then.

    2. detritus

      Re: The Bitmap Brothers

      Aurally too — I still, every few months, stick on the GODS theme tune on YouTube ( v=zJ26QY0A_aQ ) and crank it up loud. it blew my tiny little mind back in the Early 90s.

      Although I can't actually remember the game being all that good...

      “Into the wunderfuh...” (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean)

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The Bitmap Brothers

        >Although I can't actually remember the game being all that good...

        Gods looked great, but it was a bit ploddy, flip switches to open doors, and relying on every health and weapon upgrade you could get.

        Platform games were a bit scarce on the PC at the time, with Sonic and Mario of course being exclusive to Sega and Nintendo. Heck, even the 8-bit Master System seemed to have better platform games, such as Wonderboy III.

        Flight simulators and strategy games aside, the PC felt to me like the poor man of the gaming world until the rise of the First Person Shooter.

  7. rich_r
    Thumb Up

    Joystick Killer

    Speedball 2 was easily one of the most playable and atmospheric games on the ST/Amiga. The pitch moved in a perfect manner so that the players and ball were exactly where you expect them to be. The sound effects made you feel like you were at a real sporting event, even though you were crowded round a 14" TV in someone's bedroom.

    This game ultimately cost my friends and me more in pocket money terms than any other - purely due to the rate we snapped joysticks playing it. It's not that we had weak joysticks, it's just that when you need just a couple more points to ensure a victory the red mist takes over and crack - there goes another Competition Pro... :)

    I tried the iPhone version - whilst it's not bad, a touchscreen and accelerometer just don't have the physical connection needed for Speedball.

    1. Tommy Pock

      Re: Joystick Killer

      Should have bought a Konix Speedking. Unbreakable.

      1. drand

        Re: Joystick Killer

        I twice had to take my Speedking joystick into school to re-solder the microswitches in the CDT lab over lunchtime, all due to SB2.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Joystick Killer

          Back in the days when joystick packaging proudly stated 'Microswitches' as a selling point!

          1. Disintegrationnotallowed

            Re: Joystick Killer

            I had the variety of joysticks that we all did before I finally settled on the Powerplay Cruiser. This thing was built from steel parts.

            http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Power-Play-CRUISER-Joystick-Commodore-Atari-Amstrad-Spectrum-Working-/360841221759

            It had a great semi soft feel, it looked bleugh in the pastel colours (I think there were other version but this was cheapest).

            All the switches were microswitched, the shaft was steel, the base ring (where the shaft attached), was solid steel, you could lever bank vaults open with this thing.

            It was worth every penny, and I think I eventually managed to break it after 3 years (by standing on it in steelies), bought another one, and that was my last joystick.

            It also had a turnable ring at its base, which allowed you to stiffen up the movement. Once the first broke, I took it apart (how else was I supposed to learn how things worked????), and was impressed by its build quality.

  8. Epobirs

    Oh the memories. I worked at the company who distributed this game in the US, Cinemaware, though I'm not able to remember the brand name the company had for the import line. Speedball was the star attraction of the lot.

  9. Neil B

    The Bitmap Bros were to me on the Amiga as Blizzard are to me on the PC. Chaos Engine co-op and Speedball 2 1v1 were together the finest moments served up by my A500.

    1. Tommy Pock

      I agree. But on the other hand; Magic Pockets

  10. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Ah, memories...

    Through being an extremely violence prone player in game, I do remember the "bastards" moment when I found that the computer team cheated through somehow summoning up more substitutes than they had available. Admittedly it may be more that the ruination of my intended tactic with getting the "hot ball" and repeatedly wiping out and generally beating their players until they had no substitutes left didn't work as well as it should have...

    I still remember the shocked look when the first time I played a friend who tried to play it "nicely" and tactically (i.e. non-violently) got thumped into submission within a few minutes when I just pummelled every player of his into the floor.

    1. Lamont Cranston

      Every other sports game suffers

      from not having the option to beat the crap out of the opposing team!

  11. Vociferous

    Oh man, the aggression level!

    I could only play Speedball for like 15 minutes before I had to take a break because I had built up so much rage I was one missed shot from pounding the joystick and keyboard to pieces. Not bad rage, not like being ganked by a cheating 12-year-old in Counterstrike, but fun, wholesome, berserker rage. So I kept going back.

    Can't recall ever having played any other game which had that effect.

  12. Root Ginger

    The Zip Stik Super Pro was the only indestructible joystick for the Amiga. Went through two Quick Shot II Turbos in two years. The Zip Stik lasted for another six years of continued use and still works today.

    1. Snarf Junky

      I got one for Christmas and had broken it by New Years Day. Went through so many of them.

  13. John Sanders

    Speedball 2 one of the finest games ever made

    Together with the chaos engine.

    Sick of breaking joysticks I invested a little fortune on this for my Amiga:

    http://www.javipas.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/telemachprofessional.jpg

    Yes It is a Spanish Joystick from the 90s

    Anything else in the market was a toy.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "million dollar money-spinners"

    I will demand... one... MILLION... dollars!

    I mean, seriously, Reg - how long did it take GTA5 to make a million smackers? Half a second? I think you guys need to modify your monetary-units-of-impressiveness.

    1. Tommy Pock

      A million is still a lot to normal people, Walliams

    2. Vociferous

      > how long did it take GTA5 to make a million smackers?

      It was a different world. A top-selling game of the era sold perhaps 50 000 copies.

  15. DaneB

    "Metallic zing"

    The Amiga pushed computer game sound to a very high place far before it really had to.

    Classic.

  16. DaneB
    Happy

    Amiga graphics

    It seems to me that lots of Amiga games had these amazing gradient textures - on sprites and backgrounds. Shadow of the Beast is the one that springs to mind.

    How did it do this? Was it simply 4096 colours on screen?

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Amiga graphics

      > How did it do this?

      Good artists, good programmers, lots of dithering and the blurring effect of CRT screens. HAM-mode (4096 colors) was too slow to be used in most games, and the ECS chipsed didn't support 8-bit mode (256 colors), so various tricks were used to make the ECS chipsets 32 colors seem a lot more.

      The Amiga held its own pretty well. The Amiga games clearly had prettier graphics than PC games, even though the PC had started sporting 8-bit graphics, up until the 3D games came. The Amiga evolved far slower than the PC and did not have the horsepower to run games like Doom and Tomb Raider, and this led to its death.

      1. DaneB

        Re: Amiga graphics

        So those games were running in 32 colours? Crazy - must be my youthful memory blurring it!

        Cheers.

        1. DaneB

          Re: Amiga graphics

          Or possibly my old memory distorting it!

        2. foo_bar_baz

          Re: Amiga graphics

          It was in 32 colour mode, but with a lot more colours on screen. The beauty of old crappy (by today's standards) hardware was that it made programmers push the hardware beyond what should be possible.

          For example you would change the 32 colour palette from one raster line to the next and have more colours than that on screen.

          Example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raster_bar

      2. DaneB

        Re: Amiga graphics

        Yeah, PC came along and took over... shame in a way - there was something very homely about those Commodore and Atari platforms.

      3. Michael Strorm

        No, that's *not* how Amiga gradients were generated

        DaneB: "...amazing gradient textures - on sprites and backgrounds"

        Vociferous: "Good artists, good programmers, lots of dithering and the blurring effect of CRT screens [..] various tricks were used to make the ECS chipsets 32 colors seem a lot more."

        Sorry, but as far as the "amazing gradient textures" go, this is wrong.

        While the tricks you describe *were* used on the Amiga to get the most out of 32-colour palettes in general use, the aforementioned background gradients were achieved by having the graphics co-processor update one or more of the colour registers (i.e. changing the palette itself) every few lines while the picture was being displayed.

        Here's an example of that technique applied to a 1-bit (i.e. ostensibly single colour) background:-

        http://amiga.lychesis.net/artist/FranckSauer/Agony_Level1_Horizon.html

        AFAIK the Atari ST could do something similar as well, but it only had 512 colours (except the later STe model) so the gradients couldn't be as smooth.

        1. Vociferous

          Re: No, that's *not* how Amiga gradients were generated

          > having the graphics co-processor update one or more of the colour registers (i.e. changing the palette itself) every few lines

          Good point. I had forgot about copper gradients.

        2. Monty Burns

          Re: No, that's *not* how Amiga gradients were generated

          @Michael Strorm - - Ahhh yes, good old fashioned Coper bars (Co-processor) bars. Used to love coding those... ahh the memories of a mis-spent youth (that and writing virus's, intercepting the disk I/O and playing with that tiny code in the boot block of a floppy disk)

      4. Neil B

        Re: Amiga graphics

        @Vociferous As I recall a tiny, windowed version of Doom did appear on the Amiga. I'd moved on to PC by then and only remember seeing it on the cover of one of the mags.

        1. Vociferous

          Re: Amiga graphics

          > As I recall a tiny, windowed version of Doom did appear on the Amiga

          I don't know if Doom was ever released on the Amiga, but a few 3D shooter clones were -- however, they had to "cheat" pretty heavily to get acceptable framerates (like only rendering the top or bottom half of the environment and then mirroring it). The ones I saw were impressive from a programming point of view but ultimately did little but highlight that 3D gaming was not a job the Amiga was suited for.

  17. Outcast

    Seeing Speedball 2 on my mates A500 was what made me buy one.

    Brilliant game. The humourous audio snippets were the icing on the cake.

    My daughters loved Tiny Troops mainly for the....

    "Aaaaaaaarmageddon & Run Awaaaaaay" sound snippets !

  18. Zuagroasta

    "Let the games begin" demon football

    Was this the one that had a demon in the intro that said "let the games begin" in a Hell's-gonna-take-you voice? I only played Amiga games at a friend's house once or twice in the early 90s

  19. Snarf Junky

    Best game I can remember

    I know games have moved on and it's difficult to compare but I don't remember a single game that I had any more fun with than Speedball 2. The graphics, sound and gameplay were amazing. I loved playing it in single player where I could win straight through every time and against mates who played as much as I did which meant for some epic battles. Pure class!!!

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