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.

How Bobby Fischer battled the Sicilian How Bobby Fischer battled the Sicilian

Fischer liked to play aggressive but basically sound lines against the Sicilian and many of his variations are still very much alive and a good choice for players of all levels.


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.


Battle Chess on Steam

Arne Kaehler, a creative mind who is passionate about board games in general, was born in Hamburg and learned to play chess at a young age. By teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess-related videos on YouTube, Arne was able to expand this passion and has even created an online course for anyone who wants to learn how to play chess. Arne writes for the English and German news sites, but focuses mainly on content for the ChessBase media channels.


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