Amstrad Action

Colossus Chess 4.0
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #8

Colossus Chess 4.0

Computer chess is not everyone's idea of excitement. You might well wonder why anyone would bother waiting hours for the Amstrad to make an indifferent move - and a lot of chess programs in the past offered just that. Not so Colossus - on the default average move time of ten seconds, he can give you some real trouble. If you want a feat, fiendish adversary then look no further.

First impressions aren't all good, it must be admitted. Cyrus II has set a standard for display and ease of use that few will equal, and Colossus definitely suffers here. It's perfectly possible to play Cyrus without any documentation at all, but you'll need the manual for Colossus - and the layout may give you some problems finding the information you need. On the graphic side, Colossus clearly tries to match Cyrus with its 3D board-view option, but the perspective is very poor and the pieces can be hard to differentiate.

Once you get past these points to the game itself, Colossus shows where its real strength lies - and strength is definitely the word. It can give a tough game even with a very short move time - once it starts averaging minutes rather than seconds per move, it can be nothing short of terrifying. CDS claim that it beat Cyrus 10-6 and 11-5 on comparable speed settings, and a trial in the Amstrad Action office seemed to bear this out - an impressive middle game performance produced a win for Colossus, but poor end gameplay saw the game stretch to nearly sixty moves. The end game is always an area of weakness for chess programs, and Colossus is stronger than most. What did come as a surprise was its indifferent opening performance, given that its openings book boasts 3,000 moves to Cyrus's 1,900.

Colossus Chess 4

The first thing you'll want to do, unless you're a strongish player yourself, is to reduce the level Colossus plays at. Here you find a real plus point - flexibility. Rather than choosing from pre-set levels of play, you set the average move time in minutes and seconds. This could prove extremely useful if you're trying to improve your game, and need to increase the strength of opposition gradually.

The range of options is wide, including tournament, blitz and problem modes. It has more or less all the features you would expect - infinite, equality, backward step - and some you wouldn't. How many chess programs give you the option, for example, of playing "blindfolded"? The disc version also has a large selection of classic computer vs. human and computer vs. computer games to play through, for those of you who are really interested.

Green Screen View

You can set the colours how you like, but the defaults are fine anyway.

Good News

P. Plays a very strong game.
P. Fully adjustable.
P. Good analysis display.

Bad News

N. Not as pretty as Cyrus.
N. Cumbersome at first.
N. Mean!

Second Opinion

I had a pretty engrossing, if embarrassing, couple of hours with Colossus Chess 4.0. To put it bluntly, it thrashed me. Although the display is nowhere near as attractive as Cyrus's, it does play a stronger game. And for the more accomplished player that is surely the main thing. Weaker players will still find Cyrus a handful and may be more tempted by the pretty display.

Third Opinion

It may not look as good at Cyrus, but the levels and gameplay are far more adaptable to an individual's skill. I'm an instinct player and can't bear analysing positions for long. This means Colossus will play as fast as I do and match my skill, i.e. I still lose all the time.

Adam Waring

Other Amstrad CPC464 Game Reviews By Adam Waring

  • Laser Squad Expansion Kit 2 Front Cover
    Laser Squad Expansion Kit 2
  • Lords Of Chaos Front Cover
    Lords Of Chaos
  • Heroes Front Cover
  • The Winning Team Front Cover
    The Winning Team
  • F-16 Combat Pilot Front Cover
    F-16 Combat Pilot
  • Skull And Crossbones Front Cover
    Skull And Crossbones
  • Raster Runner Front Cover
    Raster Runner
  • Puzznic Front Cover
  • Badlands Front Cover
  • Toobin Front Cover