Speedball 2: Evolution is what would happen if you mashed together hockey and soccer, but let players use their hands to control the ball. And also, if the sport was an incredibly violent futuristic arena game. A remake of an Amiga game released more than two decades ago (and since ported to numerous other platforms), Speedball 2 definitely feels like a game from the ’90s. But it’s also incredibly fun.
The arena resembles that of many sports. There’s a goal on each end of the court, and two teams facing off against each another. Toss the ball into the opponent’s goal and you get points. Simple enough, but there are other ways to score in speedball. Pinball-style bumpers earn you a small amount of points, making them the equivalent of a field goal. Meanwhile, each player has a health meter the slowly decreases as they get tackled. Once it’s depleted that player is knocked out, and the opposing team gets some points.
Sports in space.
Controlling the game is simple and relatively intuitive. Movement can be controlled either via tilting your device or using a virtual joystick. In our experience the virtual stick was much more accurate. Other than that, Speedball 2 is essentially a one-button game. While on defense tapping the screen results in a tackle, and on offense a tap causes you to toss the ball, either passing it or throwing it at the net depending on the situation.
You can play multiplayer and quick matches, but the main mode is the career mode. Here you’ll make your way through different leagues and cup tournaments, moving up the ranks as you earn trophies. You’ll earn cash for wins, which you can then use to improve your squad, either by buying new players or upgrading your existing line-up.
Like picking teammates in gym class.
While the actual game is relatively simple, it’s surprisingly fun, with lots of goofy, over-the-top action. Absurdly huge pile-ups are common, as are ridiculously high scores. It’s got that oh-so-’90s extreme sense of style, with cyborg action hero-looking players and gritty arenas to play in. The players are squat and oddly proportioned, and the animation could use some work. But while the game may not look all that great by today’s standards, it evokes a certain level of nostalgia for anyone who grew up gaming during the ’90s.
But as fun as the game can be, it’s also lacking much in the way of challenge. Once you come to grips with the rules and start upgrading your team, actually losing a game will become rare. Everyone likes to win, but when you beat an opponent by more than 200 points, some of the fun is lost. Speedball 2 also has some annoyingly repetitive sound effects. Every tackle results in the same grunt sound, and there are a lot of tackles in the same. You’ll also have to listen to an arena vendor screaming, ‘Ice cream! ice cream!’ far too many times.
With matches that last just a few minutes, Speedball 2 is perfect for pick-up-and-play action. There’s also a lengthy career mode that spans 10 seasons and numerous cups to keep you coming back. It may be lacking in challenge, but Speedball 2 is still a fun trip down memory lane. To the extreme!