The road to the top is a long and bloody one for Brutal Deluxe. Week after week the boys run out onto the field and pour their heart and soul into the game, putting their bodies on the line, all for a taste of that sweet Speedball victory. They may start as a bunch of young Division 2 upstarts and plodding veterans, but one by one they take their opponents down, on their way to glory. Damocles. Steel Fury. Violent Desire. They’re all notches on your belt on the brutal path to the top of Division 1. And what a violent and satisfying path it is.
Speedball 2 isn’t unique in the feeling of accomplishment it brings with it – there is just something about sports games that gets me. Whether it be the number crunching of the Football Manager series, or the Master League that made Pro Evolution Soccer such a time sink for me in the Playstation 2 era, there is something to taking a bunch of wooden-spooners up the ladder to a premiership. But Speedball 2 is a bit special in the way you do it.
And so you train your rag tag bunch of blokes, you work them to the bone in the gym, and buy them as many pairs of Bitmap Shades and Power Gloves you can carry. But no matter how hard you train, no matter how much blood sweat and tears your boys poor into winning, you’ll need help from the superstars of the game. And so you pony up the big future bucks to buy the Robbens and Sneijders of the future sport world.
They may be expensive, but it’s these mutants, these freaks of the game, that will be the difference between success and failure. And that’s worth saving your pennies and enduring some hardships early on in your Brutal Deluxe campaign for.
I say mutants because they kinda were just that. Blokes with bionic eyes and tattoos on their faces. Fellas who look a bit like they’ve come from a galaxy far far away. And a guy that looks a bit like the love child of Prince and James Brown. While they look like a freak show though, on the metal arenas of the Speedball tournament, they’re right bloody monsters. It was always a violent game, but with these freaks on the field the blood flowed thick and fast, along with the bodies of the heavily armoured players as they fell heavily on the steel floor. It’s this controlled violence that set Speedball 2 apart from other sports games.
And the moment you take to the field with your first superstar is a moment you remember. The pace of the game changes and the game slows to a halt as the ambulance takes to the field and the game’s casualties pile up. Winning by points is a victory, but winning by taking out the other team, well that’s an absolute drubbing. And it’s a drubbing that becomes a distinct possibility when you’ve got bloodthirsty half-cyborgs on your side. Speedball 2 is a blood sport after all, and when you’ve got Raw Messiah on the ropes in the final, you’ll be thankful for every drop of blood your lads are letting onto the floor.
Ice Cream, indeed.