Amstrad Action

Cyrus II Chess

Publisher: Amsoft
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #1

This is computer chess with an extra dimension - the third dimension. It presents you with a stunning 3D display which surely spells extinction for the old-fashioned 2D graphics we've all lost to so many times. What Cyrus doesn't do is spell the end of losing to chess games, because it's a horribly strong program. The graphics use only blue, black and white, but by sophisticated use of shading it seems as if a much wider range is being employed. The board appears suspended on a background of black space and is tilted towards you so that the white pieces are at the bottom of the screen and the black ones at the top. Each individual piece is clearly defined and then shaded to give an excellent impression of solidity.

But when you actually move this impression fades - in a most amusing way. The pieces actually seem to wobble as they slide from square to square, as if they were made in jelly-moulds. Strangely, this somehow improves the program as you're always interested in watching the display. Another nice touch is that pieces merge when they capture - two pawns become one, a knight changes into a bishop, and so on.

All this would be very pretty but very useless if the program didn't play a decent game. Unfortunately for the human ego, it does. And very quickly too. At Level 1 it moves almost instantly yet with considerable sharpness. At Level 3 - usually the level at which computer chess games start to get stroppy - it never takes more than 30 seconds and always comes up with a move that will cause you trouble. Even at Level 9 the average response is only 14 minutes.

Cyrus 2 Chess

Cyrus has considerable knowledge of book openings and more than holds its own in the murky waters of the middle-game. It generally plays aggressively, but - at Level - 3 didn't quite have the killer instinct in a close end-game. The program has all the usual features, enabling you to print out, set up problems, change sides and even get hints from the computer. Frankly, I wouldn't trust it Cyrus is out to win.

Second Opinion

Chess games don't often get rave reviews but this certainly deserves it. The graphics are excellent and I found it played a good game even on level one. It should suit anyone from the novice to the grandmaster. With this display it's too attractive to miss.

The 2D Option

If you can't stand the realism of 3D you can change to the kind of 2D display used by more conventional chess programs. The only advantage of this is that when a move has been decided, the piece changes squares like greased lightning instead of moving in the stately wobble of the 3D display. So it's quicker to get beaten.

Good News

1. Superb 3D display. 2. Easy entry of moves. 3. Powerful game. 4. Very speedy response.

Bad News

1. Powerful game. 2. Can be humiliating.