iPhone review of the day: Speedball 2 Evolution – a brutal classic remade for a new league of gamer

On iPhone
Speedball 2 Evolution
Price: $2.99 / £1.79
Size: 86.9 MB
Get it now on iTunes:US (opens in new tab)/UK (opens in new tab)

When you combine soccer, pinball, and hockey, chances are you’re in for a good time. That’s the story with Speedball 2: Evolution, a futuristic sports mash-up of violence, speed, and skill that becomes very rewarding if – and that’s a really big if – you can learn to overcome its one major flaw.

Speedball gives you control of a team for up to 10 years in an English soccer-like structure, with a squad consisting of three defensemen, midfielders, and attackers. The high-level objective is to score goals by throwing a steel ball into your opponent’s net, but there are plenty of other ways to improve your tally.

Eliminating other players by vicious tackles and throwing the ball against bumpers or special stars gets extra points that always come in handy. You can also use special ramps for multipliers, which allow you to overcome large deficits in short order if you’re good. Power-ups abound as well, infusing your players with energy, speed, and the like. It takes a little time to get used to the high-speed, intense three-minute match, but once we figured out the basics we didn’t put Speedball down.

You start off in a low-level division, and have the opportunity to win leagues and Cups. The ultimate goal is to climb to – then win – the Champions League. Victories along the way earn money that you use to build up player attributes or purchase better athletes from the transfer wire. It’s terribly addictive to tinker with your club, over time transforming them from lousy players into atomic supermen.

The only real problem with the game is the controls. There are two schemes – the iPhone accelerometer or an on-screen D-pad, and they both stink. We missed goals, stars, and bumpers dozens of times, sometimes costing us valuable points. Over time, though, we learned to compensate for it (and building up our squad until it was all-powerful helped a lot).

Speedball is an almost-perfect type of sports game for the iPhone and iPad – quick bursts of intense action backed by an addictive RPG-esque team builder. If you can learn to compensate for the controls, you’ll love it as much as we do.

May 20, 2011

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