Battle Chess 1 logo

THERE are precious few games that really make the Amiga sweat. Many are simply ported directly from the Atari ST, or worse, are lackluster conversions of 8 bit titles. Discerning Amiga owners, therefore, especially the chess playing ones among you, will be reassured to hear that some companies are prepared to invest their time and money in taking advantage of the additional graphical and sound capabilities their machine has to offer.

Such a company is Interplay, creators of the now legendary Bard's Tale, which has turned its redoubtable talents to the creation of what has to be the most graphically stunning chess game ever conceived.

Battle Chess is more than just a chess program, it's a work of art. The beautifully marbled board is viewed from behind and above your pieces from a more elevated viewpoint than is seen in most other traditional 3D chess games.

Each piece has been painstakingly designed to look so realistic that you could almost reach into the monitor and move it by hand.

Rather than slide clumsily from one square to the next, the pieces come to life and walk to their destination. Each piece is animated in a different way to bring out its own character and importance in the general scheme of things.
The knight, for example, heavily weighed down by his armour, clanks laboriously to his destination, while the Queen, complete with wiggling backside, glides gracefully across the board in true regal fashion.

But my favourite is the rook which, when not moving, appears as a castle tower constructed from huge blocks of stone. When called upon to move, he metamorphoses into a hulk-like creature which stomps from square to square with all the finesse of a JCB.

And what a feast of animation and sampled sound effects the battles are. Each piece has its own method of combat commensurate with its character. The knight fights with a sword, the castle rock-monster hits people over the head and even resorts to eating the queen!
The bishop brandishes his staff, while the queen raises her hands above her head before casting one of a number of awesome spells on her victims who get fried to a crisp, reduced to nothing more than a heap of charred bones.

The battle sequences are both realistic and humorous. The knight-takes-knight battle in particular is hilarious, having been plucked shamelessly from the guardian of the bridge sequence in Monty Python's Holy Grail. Other battles end with a piece being butted in the groin or falling down a hole which suddenly appears on the square it was occupying.

For those who want to dispense with the "distractions" of the battles, a standard 2D board can be called up from the pull down menu which is actually a scroll suspended in mid air by a pair of flapping angels.
Other features include nine skill levels, modem play, and 20 famous games that can be loaded and reviewed in either 2D or 3D.

Although Battle Chess will prove a worthy opponent for the majority of casual players, it falls short of the high standard set by Chessmaster 2000 on the Amiga and Psion Chess on the ST.

So, if you fancy yourself as a chess whizkid and want a tough game Battle Chess may well disappoint. But for average players it will not only prove itself a worthy opponent but a rare graphical and audio treat too.

Battle Chess 1 logo


Finding even a half-decent chess-player in the Format offices is about as easy as tracking down the genuine Santa Claus. To get round this problem we considered playing Battlechess off against itself, but were worried that this might cause the Amiga to question its treasured superiority complex. Then Colossus appeared for the ST and a worthy opponent was found.


There was a time when one chess game was much the same as another - whether your defeat was greeted by a strange beeping noise or digitised speech, the end result was still the same. Battlechess has put an end to that illusion. If you're playing chess as an escape from the blood and gore of 16-bit arcade adventures, then forget this one. In no time at all it turns the chess board into a blood-soaked battleground. Strategies resemble the planning of a full-scale war, rather than the innocent movement of odd little horses and castles..

When it comes to playing a good game of chess, however, the eccentricities of Battlechess mean little. Colossus may not noffer any startling new graphics, but it does play a far better game. It almost reduced its rival to tears with moves which would upset many a Russian grand-master. One superb feature of Colossus is the way it learns from each game. With an opening book of more than 11,000 moves, extending well into the middle and end-game, the traditional weakness of older programs is becoming a thing of the past.


Battlechess plays an intriguing game, with such sights as the King pulling a Luger on opposition knights and the Queen flexing electrified fingers to liquidate the pawns. These comic scenes occur at every encounter between pieces. Unlike some other chess variants, you have no control over the battles, but can only watch as pawns, knights and bishops are pulverised in front of your eyes.

Battlechess might play a more humorous game, but it is severely hampered by constant disk accesses which make it extremely slow. When it comes to making a move, even at the novice level, the wait almost gives you pins and needles..

Colossus on the other hand offers a far more realistic challenge. While you're considering your move, Colossus is way ahead, has already decided your probable moves and is considering its own responses. This sort of approach is fast approaching reality; introduce a few burps and body odour and you could be sitting opposite the great Spassky.

In addition, both games offer a range of odd features, from playing blindfolded (Colossus) to playing over modem (Battlechess). These gimmicks might appeal to a blind telephonist, but they have little use for the average chess player.


Battlechess is a fine program with attention paid to every detail, from the full-scale riots of a chess game to the creative display of its menu's. But give it a decent opponent, and you'll soon realise its shortcomings. It might well beat the brains out of your average players but when the chips are down, Battlechess crumbles. Colossus lacks impressive graphics but its gameplay is unbeatable.
Will chess ever be the same again?

Battle Chess 1 logo CU Amiga Screen Star

Electronic Arts
Price: £19.95

Chess has always been considered an ideal game for a computer. It has the logic to make all the right moves, is completely unbiased, does not 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 is not so much the relaxing pastime originally though 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.

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 cannot 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 their '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, each loaded in when necessary. This does slow the game down quite a lot, but as this is a chess program, it does not 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 stop him galloping. The Knight freezes, drops his shield, turns to face out of the screen with his hands on the afflicted area, moans, and collapses stiffly (very much like our own Editor when he had an accident while putting 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 are 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, 1 player, 2 player, 0 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 is not the best ever on the Amiga, but it is definitely the most interesting and certainly the most fun.

Battle Chess 1 logo

Electronic Arts, £24.95

Many years ago in a land far away, a great battle raged. Two great kingdoms clashed on their borders, trying to expand their own lands. Many losses were incurred by both sides. One day, one of the magicians of the land came up with a solution - one last battle to decide the ultimate ruler.

Representatives of both kingdoms were summoned to the final battleground. Both armies consisted of the king and queen themselves, two bishops, two knights, two guardian rooks and eight pawns. As the two sides faced each other across the misty plain, a crack of thunder sounded, followed by the mysterious appearance of a great chequered board.

Zzap's Nose

The sound of the magician's voice echoed about the warriors: 'The final battle will be in the form of a chess game. All battles are to death using any powers at your command. The death of a king decides the outcome.'

The Red King decided the first move. With a clank of armour his warrior stepped forward...

Interplay's version of chess plays according to the standard rules of the game (forcing moves, en passant and castling) plus a wide range of additional options. These allow you to choose between a 'traditional' 2D or a 3D board (with cartoon animations), set up boards to play historic games, choose from a range of opening positions, and play against the computer at one of ten levels, against a human opponent or even via a modem.

Gordon Houghton I think the best way to start this comment is to get right to the point: Battle Chess is dead good. There, I've said it. Now, what makes it dead good? Well, the obvious thing is the graphics. They're incredible! The definition on all the characters is outstanding and is only matched by the wonderful animation. Some of the battle sequences are very Python-esque (especially the dismemberment scene from The Holy Grail) and caused a great deal of merriment when the ZZAP! team first saw them. But, you might think, won't they get a bit boring after a while? Well, maybe - but if you don't want to watch the full-length animated version, you can always switch to the faster 2D option, which is still a good chess game in its own right. I think it's the best chess game available at the moment. Try it and see for yourself.
Kati Hamza You might not think that watching Maff's rook take Gordo's pawn would be one of the funniest things to happen in ZZAP! Towers over the last few weeks - but, as usual, you'd be absolutely wrong. Not that I can blame you - I mean, the last thing you expect a chess program to be is funny. You can't really see very well in a still screenshot but this one definitely is - in fact, I had to tape my sides up with sellotape to hide the split (ho,ho).
Let's face it, the main reason most people buy a computerised version of chess is because they can't always find someone to play with them when they want. Which means that the computer has to take over all those entertaining little things that your sister or your mate tends to do. It can't scratch its head or try to put you off by laughing at you, but it can do other things to cheer you up and Electronic Arts have made the most of that. This way you don't just get a really strong challenge (ten difficulty levels must be enough!) - you have a really good time as well!
Maff Evans & Zzap's Rockford: That boy is ill! Until I loaded this program, I hadn't played chess for years and I must say that this is a hell of a way to get back into the game! I reckon that even non-chess players will manage to get involved due to the incredible entertainment factor involved. The 3D graphics have to be seen to be believed! Static screens don't do the game any justice at all, since the graphics really come into their own in the animated battle sequences. Some of them are really funny (if a little gory). Even hardened chess players will find a great deal of challenge, as there are a lot of progressively harder levels to battle through (I can't even beat level one!). If you like chess, or even just like being entertained, then Battle Chess is definitely for you!

Battle Chess 1 CDTV logo CDTV

INTERPLAY * £39.99

This is a classic computer game and an obvious choice for the CD format. It's essentially a very simple chess game and, unlike some other chess games, it has very few options for changing the way you play: no ancient, historical versions of chess and no expert tutorials to add 'great master' expertise. Its gimmick, as the name suggests, is nice animation in which the pieces do battle and the taking piece defeats the other. It plays a very good game of chess, but it's a very aged game. A CD title might be expected to give more.

Battle Chess 1 CDTV logo CDTV

Zurück in die Vergangenheit, zählt Interplays Urfassung des blutrünstigen Ritter-Schachs doch bereits stolze vier Lenze. Für die CD-Version dieses mittlerweile nicht mehr indizierten Spiels haben die Jungs tolle Soundtracks dazugestrickt, und die Einstellung der Preferences wird nunmehr über eine Pop Up-Box vorgenommen. Im übrigen kommt man mit der Bedienung problemlos zurecht, wobei sich die Spielstärke nach wie vor in Grenzen hält.

Aber die Würze des Programms liegt ja ohnehin in den animierten Kampfszenen, und hier kommen alte und neue Kriegsstrategen bei unveränderter Optik auf ihre Kosten: Der Turn stampft wie gehabt als wüster Golem übers Feld, während der King seine Widersacher mit den sattsam bekannten Tricks beharkt (z.B. Laserkanonen!). Damals wie heute ist die Luft raus, sobald man sämtliche Animationen gesehen hat, zudem überleben die Savestände den Zug am Netzstecker hier nicht. Battlechess ist somit alles in allem nix Besonderes.
(Interplay. ca 119,- DM).

Battle Chess 1 CD32 logo CD32

Originally available as a CDTV title, Battlechess (Interplay 0865 390029, £25.99) takes one of the world's oldest board games and adds a dash of 3D animation to bring the pieces and moves to life.

The game features six difficulty levels, a Suggested Moves option to help you out of those tricky situations and the ability to switch to a plainer (but quicker) 2D view when the animations begin to pall.

Yuk! This game is horribly, unforgivably dated. The graphics are poor - with or without animation - and the music and sound effects will soon have you climbing the walls in fits of mild disgust.

The joypad controls are straightforward enough once you get used to the perspective, but pressing the Blue button every time you want to bring up a menu soon gets tiresome. The game's concept is great, but then it's chess, isn't it? Stick to the proper board game version.

Battle Chess 1 CD32 logo CD32

Hey, das erste Schach fürs CD32! Im Vergleich zu uralten Urversion hat Interplay dem Oldie hier ein paar Farben mehr spendiert, die witzig animierten Kampfsequenzen beim Schlagen wurden jedoch nicht überarbeitet. Dafür sind Sprachausgabe, Musik und sogar ein kleiner Schachlehrgang auf der Scheibe enthalten. Nur spielt das Programm halt immer noch recht schwach, zudem reagiert die Steuerung eher lahm. Schachmatt in 68 Prozent. (rl)