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Speedball 2 is nothing short of an all-time 16-bit classic, from the glorious reign of the Bitmap Brothers. It was back in the day when eight-directional scrolling was something to splash on your box, and the Bitmaps delivered not only a technically impressive game, but one with gameplay that felt so natural and balanced that manuals, and a life outside your bedroom, became immediately unnecessary. And now, with Mike Montgomery of the Bitmaps in a supervisory role, Kylotonn is remaking the classic retro future sport. A number of questions spring immediately to mind. Mainly, what are they going to do to it? Yann Tambellini, the creative director of the whole shebang, fields this vague question.
“We’re going to keep a big part of the classic game - for example, it’ll be playable from the top-view,” says Tambellini. This is reassuring; during a teaser tour of the 3D arena, we recently had a horrific vision of first-person gameplay. We’ve even dreamed of playing this version, and it was shit. Tambellini continues: “There’ll be two modes for players. The older people can have classic gameplay, with the original controls and just the one action button.”
So with the retro die-hards hopefully placated - what’s the new stuff? “We thought that for 17 years now; we could make the gameplay a bit deeper. So in advanced mode, it’ll be playable with keyboard and mouse. Aim with your mouse and run with the keyboard. You’ll be able to jump, shoot during a jump, curve the trajectory of the ball and so on.” Is it working? Well, the reason they’ve not released that much gameplay footage at this stage is because that’s exactly what they’re working on.
“We’re not really at an alpha or beta stage - this kind of game is difficult to fix on a scale like that. We’ve got playable code, but right now we’re working really hard on the gameplay and the online engine.” There’s a playable version out there right now, in a secret room? “Oh yes,” says Tambellini. “Very playable.”