Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Bitmap Brothers - A THREE PART STORY (2)

The Bitmap Brothers

Story two of three....

Speedball 2

Thinking back about my favourite gaming memories, exploring what Bitmap Brothers are about is an obvious one. Recent reboots of Speedball 2 (arguably their most popular title), on iOS and Android also indicates their legacy lives on.

Looking back, the Bitmap’s graphics were striking and realistic (in 16bit terms) in comparison to other games of the day. From the organic textures of Magic Pockets and Chaos Engine, to the futuristic metallic finish of the menus and playing fields of Xenon and Speedball 2, the visuals have stayed with me.

ENTER THE AREA. One of the many scene-settng intro screens from Speedball 2. Great 16bit graphics, a trade-mark of Bitmap Bros’ games.

I remember booting up Speedball 2 on my Amiga 500, and being captivated by the cinematic feel of the intro. Picking up where its predecessor, Speedball, left off SB2 grabs your attention with the usual slick bitmap imagery (Eric Matthews (design), Dan Malone (graphics & design))

To set the scene, it further draws you in with a blistering electro-industrial cyber-punk soundtrack (courtesy of the now legendary Richard Joseph- composer of several Bitmap Bros soundtracks). Straight away I knew where I was. Capturing elements from cult sci-fi films such as Mad Max, Blade Runner and obviously Rollerball, the themes and imagery may has well been lifted from the pages of 2000AD, giving it a distinctly ‘British’ feel.

That attention to detail continued in the game itself with superb use of voice-sampling and crowd effects to generate an immersive atmosphere. I still smile at the thought of the call of ‘Ice Cream’ from a nasally concessions guy, whilst frantically button-bashing to ensure I didn’t miss a tackle. Gameplay is at times palm-sweatingly frantic, whilst managing to maintain responsive and solid controls. (I think about the work that must’ve gone into the mug-shots of the bionically enhanced players in the management screens. No digitised graphics here. This was all stylishly painted bitmap graphics).
To succeed at Speedball, thought had to be given to training and team management. The game featured a clever team upgrade and transfer system which allowing you to improve your chances of victory and providing a satisfying balance to the intense violent action of the matches.

So often, gamers in the micro-computer era would have to settle for either polished graphics or solid game-play. Speedball 2 showed that The Bitmap Bros could deliver on both.

GamesYouloved would like to thank, Graham 'Bones' Jones.  Our Guest Blogger for his RETRO gaming memories. We will carry on with Graham's Gaming Memories of the amazing BITMAP BROTHERS very soon...

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