Speedball 2: Evolution iPad / iPhone hands-on

Anyone of a certain age will remember 1990's Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe fondly. Yeah, it may have come out in the year that Margaret Thatcher's reign over Britain ended, The Crystal Maze began on Channel 4, and the first US/UK war in Iraq started, but most will tell you that the Atari ST launch of the Bitmap Brothers' Speedball 2 eclipsed all of those.

It took the original violent future sports idea from the first game, slapped on a none-too-complicated management element and an extensive career mode, bundled in a load of power ups and ways to earn extra points, and delivered them all like a good hard kick in the nether regions. It was, and still is, considered the Brothers' finest game, and now it's here for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

Speedball 2: Evolution, so called because it takes on the original game, tarts it up and adds unique features that only a modern device can offer, is the brainchild of Sensible Soccer-supremo Jon Hare and his Tower Studios. His team and he have been tasked with converting several of the Bitmaps' former titles, with this being the first. And it's a glorious example of how to take a 21-year-old game and give it a new lease of life.

For starters, unlike many rehashes of old titles, it doesn't change its core gameplay too much, rather adding new elements to make it easier to play without a joystick (the favoured control method of old). Still resident are the career mode, team customisation and raw action of the original, along with the traditional sound effects ("ice cream, ice cream") and slightly polished graphics.

Instead, the grandstanding addition this time around is in the cunning use of the accelerometer in each device. You can now control your main character by tilting the iPad or iPhone, much like controlling a marble in a wooden maze. Ball-throwing or tackling is then enacted by tapping anywhere on the screen, keeping the method as simple as can be. A directional pad mode is available for those with less arm room, but once you've tried the tilting option, it's unlikely you'll want to use anything else.

The touchscreen is also new to this generation of the game, and it's most employed to navigate through menu screens, to scroll through your team line-up, for example.

Other than these, though, it's pure Brutal Deluxe all the way; top-down 2D future sports with a tinge of Croydon on a Saturday night. Aim? Simple: Get ball, pass ball, score goals. Along the way, you can score points by throwing it at stars and other illuminable obstacles, give yourself multipliers through cunning accuracy, and pick up a variety of bonuses and power-ups, but it's a very basic premise.

That's not to say it's easy though. It is, in fact, fiendish, but as it's more addictive than mini Toblerones, you should soon find yourself zooming up the leagues.

There's local multiplayer modes (through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth), should you need to vent your pent-up anger on a family member or friend, and as the one version fully compatible with both iPad and iPhone (iPod touch), a two iOS-owning bunch have everything they need.

Speedball 2: Evolution is available on iTunes now for the weirdly unique price of £2.39.

Xenon 2 Megablast next please...

Tried it yet? What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and also tell us what old classic you'd like to see updated for modern devices...

Q&A: Tower Studios' Jon Hare talks iPhone Speedball 2

- The Pocket-lint team talks Speedball 2: Evolution



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