Back in October we reported that the classic Bitmap Brothers Atari ST / Amiga / DOS Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe would be making its way to iOS in the form of Speedball 2: Evolution. Moments ago, the game went live in the App Store as a Universal application for both iPhone and iPad [link] and we've taken a close look over the past few days.

Speedball 2 is a futuristic cybersport that's something of a mix between handball and ice hockey. The game takes place between two opposing teams -- nine players to a team -- in an enclosed, metal arena littered with power-ups and arrayed in warp portals and various score-enhancing mechanisms. Points are scored by getting the metallic ball past the opposing defense and into the goal, but brutality and violence are rewarded along the way. The overall feel is something akin to Atari's earlier, football-inspired arcade cybersport Cyberball, I've always felt. It's nicely visceral.

The first thing to say about the iOS version of Speedball 2 is that it's an enhanced version of the classic Atari ST original. I note that right off, due to the fact that a remake of the game was released on the Xbox Live Arcade, featuring "enhanced" 3D graphics...which were anything but. They were 3D, but they were awkward and poorly animated and did not compare to the "classic" mode's top-down, 2D graphics of the original. Speedball 2: Evolution for iOS takes the original's 2D graphics and enhances them while leaving them in their original orientation, making the iOS release the best looking version of Speedball 2 to date.

The list of things Speedball 2: Evolution brings to the table is vast. There are 336 individual players, 20 in-field power-ups, 16 classic Speedball teams along with 12 new intergalactic teams, a 10-season career mode, 10 single-player modes, a multiplayer mode (Bluetooth & WiFi), six arenas on four different planets, and 22 achievements in all. It's an impressive list. The various play modes allow for long-term team-building or just a quick detached match -- whatever suits you.

I, personally, spent more time with the original Speedball back in the day, than with the sequel, and so certain enhancements over said original stand out to me. Among them are the arrays of stars for each team on the arena walls that add points when illuminated by a tag from the ball, sets of spiral ramps situated on the sidelines that alter point-multipliers, and the electrobounce chargers that turn the ball into a weapon. That's not to mention the many power-ups that can be collected during the game, such as those that provide faster movement, body armour, or even freeze the opposing team in place.

Speedball 2 offers tilt controls as well as an optional onscreen D-Pad. I found that I like the tilt controls better than those of most iOS games, but more precision is offered by the onscreen D-pad, which is centered where you touch, adding a nice bit of flexibility. It's a tap anywhere to pass the ball, and a tap-and-hold to perform a high, long-distance pass or to jump to catch such a pass.

In evaluating the game for this review I spent notable time with the Atari ST original to see how it compares to the iOS release -- and had fun in the doing. After playing both titles side-to-side, I have to say that the iOS version is a bit steeper in the difficulty department than the ST original. Also, graphically the iOS version is notably superior to the ST version. I'd call the two pretty well matched on the fun scale, though I was a little more successful on the field on the ST due to its somewhat lower level of difficulty. And, I don't think it was about the controls -- of course the Atari version with a physical stick controlled better, but it was more about the game as presented.

Speedball 2, and its classic predecessor Speedball, brought the excellent Cyberball mechanic to the home, and Speedball 2: Evolution does likewise to the App Store. This is a classic arcade-style sports game that is more about fun than about simulation and accuracy. And, if you're the kind of gamer that takes sports on a pretty casual level like I do, that's a win.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Wisedude

    Will definitely be buying this one but judging from the screenshots I think the Amiga graphics looked a little better but the important thing is that it plays well.
    Speedball 2 is a classic but it was best in multiplayer it's a real shame this version didn't attempt some online play.

  • http://twitter.com/MaciejSikora Maciej Sikora

    Polish studio did great job! We want more classic games like Cannon Fodder, North & South or Desert Strike!

    • Toph101

      Awesome mate! I had totally forgotten about North & South. :)

  • Mr Guest

    I don't like the new looks.

  • Hendel

    WTF? Couldn't get multiplayer to work between my iPad and my daughter's 3GS, which is reasonable I guess. But apparently "similar devices" means "identical", because my iPhone 4 can't match up with her 3GS either. I really wanted to play against her, not the computer.

    • Some1WhoKnows

      Playing between two devices with different resolutions (which 3GS and 4 are although having the same aspect ratio) will be most probably added in some of the updates.

  • Amiga-Till-I-Die

    Ahem ... "Atari ST" version?
    Why are you comparing the iOS version to a poor cousin, rather than the orginal splendid and certainly head and shoulders above the rest Amiga version that God intended for the world to play?

    • http://toucharcade.com blakespot

      The Atari ST version is the original.

  • Mister Ed

    I'd like to see an iOS port of Skateball next

  • 10incher

    Sweet Jesus, that's expensive for an oldie granoldie. Won't be touching this with my ten inch dink till the price drops like Palin's election in 2012.

    • http://toucharcade.com blakespot

      Indeed, it costs almost as much as a coffee from Starbucks...

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, but I don't waste $60 on coffee a week ;)

      • Anonymous

        I propose that the next person who defends game pricing in terms of "a coffee at Starbucks" gets kicked to death by donkeys wearing running spikes. Who's with me?

      • http://twitter.com/Flowermilk Flowermilk

        I'm with Blake on this. It's still a fairly good way to put things in perspective. People used to pay a good 50 bucks for Speedball 2 back in the days. At this rate, the few small iOS devs left alive will close doors and then MidianGTX you'll have 60$ to put in coffee because there won't be any good games to buy...

      • Anonymous

        Except that time after time after time after time after time, it's proven that lower prices make devs MORE money.

        But it's a moronic argument anyway. The two things are not comparable. Nobody who's thirsty buys an iPhone game and nobody looking for a new game buys a coffee. It's like Starbucks bringing out a $30 coffee and some buffoon saying "What's the problem? It's still only half the price of Bulletstorm". It's got no relevance to anything.

        iOS games are not competing with snacks, they're competing with other iOS games, and if yours is four times the price of the competition you'd better have a really good reason or you're going to get spanked.

      • http://twitter.com/coolpowers Simon Windmill

        Lower prices only have the *potential* to make devs more money IF you manage to get on the top 10.

        The coffee argument makes sense because it's a frivolous item that many people commonly purchase. The idea is if 5 bucks is making you think twice about buying an iOS game, skip your next coffee and your entertainment budget is still intact.

      • http://twitter.com/Flowermilk Flowermilk

        Could not have said it better. And PopeGodzilla, I'm a iOS dev. And I can tell you that in our case we make more money at 2$ than 1$. Twice as much actually. And the Starbucks comparison is even more relevant than you think, because everyone cried when they introduced the 3$ coffee and now no one complains anymore. People lose grip on what other people's work is worth. That's what I read in your sad comment.

      • Anonymous

        I'm an iOS dev too, except I don't think anyone owes me a living. Videogames, like most other products, have an inherent worth of zero. You should read some of what Mark Cerny's been saying on the subject lately, you'd learn a lot.

        They're worth what the consumer will pay, not what you think or say they are. We've never been near the top 10 but our sales increase by between 3x and 4x when we halve the price, the only reason our apps are ever more expensive is so that they show up more often in trackers and keep in the public eye.

      • http://twitter.com/Flowermilk Flowermilk

        Our sales climb for a few days at 1$ and then fall off. At that point getting back to 2$ gets us twice as much money. Dropping the price to 1$ is a way to generate visibility. That's why most devs don't leave the price at 1$ but then fall back to their regular price. If it was a consistent thing to make more money at 1$, why would dev ever go back to 2 or 3 then? I've never said anyone owed me anything. I actually make a pretty decent living and I never made LBP to get rich. But if it makes you feel better to piss on your own work and say it's worth nothing then be my guest.

      • Anonymous

        Sorry, but which apps are you talking about? LBP's revenues were falling from day 1, had a TINY bounce up for one day when you doubled the price, then resumed falling, back to lower than they'd been before the price rise.

        Your only other app I can find is Subsolar, which bumped along fairly steadily for the first two weeks, at which point you doubled the price and the revenue graph went down almost vertically.

        So which are the apps that have made you more money at $2 than $1? Or were you just saying that and hoping nobody would check?

        And my apps are great, thanks. (I actually like LBP quite a lot, and gave it a nice review in my day job.) But even the best app in the world is still intrinsically worth nothing, other than what you can get people to pay for it. And if your customers are complaining it's too expensive, it IS too expensive. What you might think about its worth doesn't matter a damn.

      • http://twitter.com/Flowermilk Flowermilk

        "Or were you just saying that and hoping nobody would check?" ah ah! Ooooh got me! Clever you. Thanks for your review. Love you too, man :)

      • Anonymous

        "The coffee argument makes sense because it's a frivolous item that many people commonly purchase."

        It makes no sense because it's completely arbitrary crap. You know what else I can get for $3? Any of about a million books on Amazon or from a bargain store. Books that have the potential to entertain, inform, educate, change people's lives or alter the entire course of history, or all of those at once. Speedball 2, fun as it is, looks pretty overpriced beside one of those.

        Something else $3 would buy? Life-saving immunisations for a Third World child. But it'd be pretty retarded to compare the decision between donating that money to Save The Children by clicking on a website and buying a game for your iPhone, wouldn't it?

        Yet any of those things can be an impulse spend. You can't compare any two utterly dissimilar things just because they both happen to cost $3. Well, not unless you want to sound like a complete tool, anyway.

      • http://twitter.com/coolpowers Simon Windmill

        I really don't know why you're taking such a stand here. If you want to continue to play the pricing game without regard for your own work or the people who are actually buying your apps, go for it. This isn't the place to be talking app store economics and commercial ethics, so if you want to continue the discussion let's do it on the forum.

        Dragging it back on topic, I think I'll skip this for now. Like Blake, I have more fondness for the first game, I wish it got more love :)

      • Anonymous

        Because I'm sick and tired of hearing lazy idiots comparing overpriced iOS games to overpriced coffee, as if two wrongs make a right and as if it wasn't a ludicrous, stupid comparison anyway.

        It must have been said 20,000 times, every time by someone who thought it was the most perceptive and profound analogy ever, rather than the load of completely point-missing old bollocks that it is.

      • http://twitter.com/Flowermilk Flowermilk

        Wow. Chill out, dude :)

  • http://twitter.com/Flowermilk Flowermilk

    I jumped on it as soon as it hit the store and I totally disagree about it being the best looking version. It is pretty obvious that even though they tried to match the original Dan Malone's art, they're far from it. Obviously more colors on screens for better gradients but their sense of style is really poor. New palette is questionable and every single piece of art they added, like the new faces, don't even come close to the quality of the original. And look at the goalie. What the f**k is that? It shows how much it's the artist that counts, not the platform...so you end up with this weird hybrid of Malone's awesomeness and poorly executed copycat assets. For Chaos Engine, please devs go see Dan and ask him to do the art! I'm sure he will be thrilled. Or as least don't add any, because you obviously don't have what it takes.

    • zoo

      Totally agreeing with this comment. I love Dan Malone's original art, I wish they'd just done a straight conversion of the Amiga version. And as you said, his art for the other Bitmaps games was perfect, hopefully any subsequent ports will feature the original graphics.

  • Rasty

    Damn, no iOS313 support... iPhone1 is too retro for this retro remake...
    Should I buy an Amiga ?

  • poohxu

    Pretty Damn Good!!

  • starmonkey

    Question: Is it easier to learn than soccer superstars?

  • Rajehana

    looks to be a fun type of sports game, is there a demo version to try out this too?

  • http://twitter.com/threeze threeze

    I don't really like the new graphics, I think the Amiga version really beats it solidly, and I miss the Nation XII soundtrack, but apart from a couple of minor glitches with the arena, it actually FEELS like Speedball 2. Which is impressive, because I have logged moe time with SB2 over the years than any single other game.

    But... I hate the in-app purchase stuff, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who has never played the original, it just doesn't have the shine it needs, yet.

  • Ice Cream! Ice Cream!!

    Instant download for me. Feels like SB2 to me. Will need to spend more time with it to get used to touch controls. But getting there.
    All looks good to me.

    What with me being one of the lucky who got a download of iDos before it was canned so I can run Elite 2 - Frontier and this game. If someone does Stunt Car Racer, goddamn it if I won't have my three fave Amiga games ever in my pocket

  • Ice Cream! Ice Cream!!

    Instant download for me. Feels like SB2 to me. Will need to spend more time with it to get used to touch controls. But getting there.
    All looks good to me.

    What with me being one of the lucky who got a download of iDos before it was canned so I can run Elite 2 - Frontier and this game. If someone does Stunt Car Racer, goddamn it if I won't have my three fave Amiga games ever in my pocket

  • aronz

    Maybe a port of the Bitmap Brothers greatest achievement -- The Chaos Engine (aka Soldiers Of Fortune in the USA)? I'd spend my 'coffee' money on that for sure.

  • alexgodlex

    i miss the original music and graphics really… (AtariST)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2TCN4ALC3T7HA3BA24232WOV6I Matthew Keith

    BEST GAME EVAR.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alx242 Alexander Schussler

    The graphics are totally not comparable with the original. While the original has pixel-perfection written all over it the new graphics are just smudged out copies of these. If they could offer the original graphics vs their own crap I would be a much happier customer....:(

Speedball 2 Evolution Reviewed by Blake Patterson on . Rating: 4.5