It's more than 20 years since the Bitmap Brothers released Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe, the definitive future sports game.
The game imagined a future where sport had mutated into a fast-paced and violent contest designed to appease a sadistic audience. A vision encapsulated best by the refreshment vendors' cries of "ice cream, ice cream" as injured players were dragged off the pitch.
At heart the game was simple: tackle opponents and then try to get the ball into the other team's goal. But the smattering of power-ups and the pinball-style pitch meant there was also a thin layer of strategy beneath the speed.
Instead of scoring a goal, you could try and ricochet the ball off pinball bumpers to gain points or shoot it through a loop-the-loop so that your next goal will be worth more points.
But while there have been attempts to update the game with 3D visuals and other tweaks, none have matched the violent purity of the 1990 original.
In contrast Speedball 2 Evolution plays it safe. It keeps the metallic look, the 2D characters with limited animation, the pitch design, the 180-second matches and the career mode where you hire and train players.
The changes are minimal. The two-player mode is now done via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The menus are cleaner, there's a choice of pitches and an option to top up your team's funds by paying real money.
The most significant change is the inevitable one – the move from joystick to touch or tilt controls.
The tilt controls prove awkward for a game as fast as Speedball, even though the pace has been turned down a notch. But the touch controls do a decent job for the most part, despite the virtual joystick's habit of shifting position during matches.
And while the early career matches feel too easy, the challenge ramps up fast once you top the first league.
The result is a remake worthy of the Speedball 2 name. And if nothing else, fans of old will enjoy the recreation of the Amiga disk drive's clicking you hear when the game is loading.
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