Battle Chess

by Arne Kaehler
4/10/2020 – Battle Chess is a computer game from 1988. Although producer and director Brian Fargo from Interplay Productions first did not believe that the game would find an audience, it became a big success and if you like chess and computer games, you have probably heard of Battle Chess. Here's a short review of this cult classic.

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A nostalgic view to the past

If you search for "chess" on the biggest online games platform Steam, you will get more than over 400 results (February 2020). At the end of April you will probably get even more.

Battle Chess, an iconic computer classic, has been available on Steam since 2017. Battle Chess was originally released in 1988, in the days of Amiga, Atari, C64, and the good ol' MS-DOS. Battle Chess follows the exact same rules as the chess we love and know, but occasionally adds a little dark humor. The chess pieces in 3D (see image below) seem to be alive and move from one square to the next in fancy animations.

And the pieces can change their appearance, e.g. the rook can transform into a stone monster. How cool is that?

Once a piece is captured, a fight will occur and the captured unit will die or be dismissed in a hilarious battle animation.

If, for example, a rook captures the queen, he picks her up and devours her. My personal favorite battle animation is a reference to the classic Monty Python movie, The Holy Grail (1975).

The most famous scene of the movie is probably the fight between two knights in which one of the knights loses all his limbs but adamantly refuses to give up and in the end offers his opponent a draw!

However, despite all nostalgia, can I recommend to buy Battle Chess on Steam for €9.99?

Probably not. After all, if you have not seen the game before you might be disappointed.

Nicely enough, the Steam version of Battle Chess seems to be the original version from 1988 and runs on an implemented DOS emulator. But a game might take a while because the animations of each character can take up to 5-10 seconds for each move. Moreover, the program often spends too much time on its moves and is not even good. In fact, Battle Chess basically is as sluggish as the original version from 1988 and comes with all its scruffy charm.

But having said that, people who remember this little gem fondly and with feelings of nostalgia will probably still love it. Or buy it because they just like to have this classic in their collection.

Have you ever played battle chess? What is your favorite battle animation? Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

Links:

Battle Chess on Steam



Arne Kaehler, a creative thinker who is passionate about board games in general was born in Hamburg and learned how to play chess at a very young age. Through teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess content on YouTube, Arne was able to extend this passion onto others and has even made an online chess course for anyone who wants to learn how to play this game. Currently, Arne blogs for the English news page of ChessBase and focuses on creating promotional and entertaining articles.

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Chessnut49 Chessnut49 4/21/2020 05:13
It was fun to watch. The graphics were state of the art in the 80s
zanmi zanmi 4/11/2020 01:52
Playing this game aged 7 is how i learned to play chess. I wish i still had that and my Amiga 500+.
I was more interested in watching the animations than winning.
I tried to get every combination of capture. So most games would involve a queen sac with in a few moves.
Good times.
ItalianPlayer ItalianPlayer 4/10/2020 07:46
yes, I played, I collect old chess programs that run in dos of the 80s
Werewolf Werewolf 4/10/2020 09:15
The great weakness of BattleChess was the engine. It was nowhere near 1400 elo.
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