Video Game Speedball 2 HD (PC) (2013)

Speedball 2 HD (PC) (2013)*
*Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (DOS) (1991)


Relevant Links:
Speedball 2 HD (PC) (MetaCritic.com)
Speedball (Video game) (Wikipedia.org)

Speedball HD plays a bit like Super Mario Strikers (GCN) / Mario Strikers Charged (Wii) but with a couple of differences in terms of gameplay mechanics and scoring.

20150507:
Setup:
I changed the resolution to 1920 x 1280. The game was flickering before this change and after switching to my screen's full resolution the flickering stopped. As for controls, I decided to play with my controller, but the controls are simple (four directions and an action button).


Gameplay:
In Speedball HD, there are nine players on each team (one of which is a goal keeper). The goal keepers defend the goal and a player scores 10 points for a successful goal. Along the sides are also ten stars (five per side) which award a team 2 points for each star lit. In the middle are two green bumpers and hitting them will award 2 points. Make plays by ricocheting the ball off of them.

At any time during the game, the player can adjust the player distribution on the field: Very Defensive, Defensive, Regular, Offensive, Very Offensive. The player can also manage players and scout the opposition.


Strategies:
At first I went and played the Tutorial. Unfortunately, while the tutorial covers the controls, actually playing against the AI is a completely different experience.

In my first game, the enemy AI team kept tackling me and I had no idea what I could do differently.

However, during my second game I learned that tackling is a key to victory. While the basic strategies takes time to learn, I eventually (throughout all the games I played) learned to do the following:


Offensive Strategies:
1) pass the ball to a teammate, tackle the enemy player
2) kick the ball to the open field (i.e., pass to nobody), tackle an enemy player, retrieve the ball
3) approach the goalie (front), pass the ball to him, tackle him, score
4) let an enemy player go for the ball, tackle him, and retrieve the ball (see Subtlety #4)
5) execute Offensive Strategy #1, except tackle the goalie, and the teammate who receives the ball should score

Sometimes making quick points is possible but it depends on the situation:
6) Repeatedly use the green bumper in the center.
7) Get some points via the stars on the wall.
8) Knocking out the enemy.


Defensive Strategies:
My defensive strategies, however, are more limited. In my last few games, I struggled with trying to defend, as missing a tackle or having your goalie tackled is a free scoring opportunity for the enemy team.

In any case, after the end of my first season, I got knocked out at the quarterfinal stage.

Manage the Team:*
*Not to be confused with a "Manager Mode," a mode available in some releases of Speedball, but not Speedball 2 HD.

Getting back into the game, I realized that you can upgrade your players, or trade them for other players using the money you earn.


I suppose there are different strategies here, but I decided to max out everybody's tackling, then focus on maxing out my center forward, focus on power and throwing in the defense, with speed and agility in the offense (so they can run back if necessary to defend or run forward to rush an attack). Though ultimately I'm not entirely sure what all the different stats do.

But intuitively, attackers should have power, defenders can have a good throw. Eventually everybody should just be fully powered up.

At the end of the third season, I dominated and got promoted from Division II to Division I.


Subtleties:
1) While the ball will bounce off a bumper, the player can walk across the bumper.
2) Holding the action button longer will result in a further toss/higher lob.
3) The goalie has to stay behind a certain area. It's possible other players are restricted as well, but its hard to tell.
4) Knocking an opponent out will result in 10 points.
5) When the goalie slides, he cannot catch the ball. So if you toss the ball as he slides to you, then you will get tackled, but you will likely score.

Thoughts:
Pros:
+ Matches are quick.
+ Controls are simple.


Neutral:
~ I read that some players would not purchase this version because it lacks a "Manager Mode" that was part of the original game. Never having played this mode, I can't really complain.

Cons:
- The switching of players is automatic, can not be changed manually, and is not fluid.
- Quickly passing in the desired direction is unreliable. You must wait about a second for the character to start his motion in the desired direction before the pass in that direction.
- Gameplay can be counter-intuitive.

Recommendation:
While this game can be fun with friends, it's not going to be as fun as other modern sports games and the only real reason why someone might enjoy this game is if he/she played it when he/she was growing up (i.e., nostalgic purposes).

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