Battlechess (Interplay) Review | Commodore User - Everygamegoing

Commodore User

By Interplay
Amiga 500

Published in Commodore User #62


Chess has always been considered an ideal game for a computer. It has the logic to make all the right moves, is completely unbiased, doesn't mind waiting while you think for hours on end and is always willing to tell you what your best move is.

There have been a lot of them, but for some strange reason, none of them have been remarkably successful, except maybe PSI Chess on the Spectrum, but that was mainly due to its large, hi-res representation of a chess board in 3D. Battlechess takes that 3D element, and takes it one stage further.

Battlechess is so called because the game you play isn't so much the relaxing pastime originally thought up by those incredibly clever Chinese people, but a war between the two sanctions of Blue and Brown sets of pieces in the familiar Isle of Lewis set.

Battle Chess

The obvious attraction to this game is the fabulous graphics. Large, sharp and very colourful, every piece is both distinct and recognisable. The one thing that a still shot can't portray is the action. It changes the standard chess terminology of 'Pawn takes Knight' to 'Pawn takes knight by kicking him hard in the groin'. You see, every time you make a move, the piece currently under control comes to life and walks to the chosen destination square). The knights, with the 'jump to square' moves, simply barge everyone out of the way in an effort to get to where they want to go. The queen glides, bottom waggling sumptuously, and the rooks (my favourite) transform from small castles into large rock giants reminiscent of Ben Grimm, stomp to their square, and transform back, all in three loads. Yes, unfortunately, rather than store the graphics sequences in memory, they are all held on disk, and each is loaded in when necessary. This does slow the game down quite a lot, but as this is a chess program, it doesn't really detract all that much.

The combat sequences are the best thing about this game. There are at least three sequences for every different kind of capture in the game (Pawn-Pawn, Pawn-Queen, Queen-Pawn, etc) and each one is guaranteed to bring at least a smile to your face, if not a little chuckle or two. The Pawn kicks the Knight in the family jewels to sto him galloping. The Knight freezes, drops his shield, turns to face out of the screen with his hands on his afflicted area, moans, and collapses stiffly (very much like our own Editor when he had an accident while putting on his expensive leather jacket. I won't go into details, but it involved the jacket swinging and a large amount of change in the pocket).

The King's attacks are the best, however. For example, he pulls a gun on the bishops, gives a bomb to the knights, and hits the pawns with a set of nunchukas. All accompanied by some great sound effects.

Sooner or later, of course, you're going to get tired with all these nice graphics. What are you left with then? Fortunately, an excellent chess game, full of options (which are accessed by a drop-down menu in the shape of gilt scrolls, complete with accompanying cherubims, wings flapping like crazy!) Ten skill levels - enough to challenge any Grandmaster, complete configure board options, load/save game, one player, two player, zero player or even Modem play as well as a full hint facility and the option to take back any number of moves, right back to the start of the game.

Maybe as a chess program, it's not the best ever on the Amiga, but it's definitely the most interesting and certainly the most fun.

Tony Dillon

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