Battle Chess: Special Edition
Battle Chess: Special Edition
VERDICT: Famous brand, Battle Chess still oozes cool after all these years. However, the games are slow, clunky, and the animations get old after seeing them once. The value of the game comes from the variety of options in Battle Chess 4000 and Chinese Chess which will be brand new to most people. Chess gameplay is always good, but there are better chess games out there today as well as free ones. Just watch videos online for the animations and save yourself money.
This game runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Linux requires Dosbox tweaking.
Multiplayer includes single PC multiplayer, moden, and serial cable play (if anyone still has a serial cable).
Either a keyboard or mouse can be used. I recommend the mouse.
Sometimes the games wouldn’t start. GOG has a program for each game that allows you to change the graphics loader (changing one to OpenGL allowed it to run).
Sometimes the sound and animations don’t match. However, I don’t remember it matching when these games were current. The computer also takes too long to make its move. Then again, that was how it behaved back then as well.
WHAT’S IN THE COLLECTION
The following games are in the collection. Click on one to go to each one’s review.
This game is Chess. It is nothing but Chess. The gameplay never, ever differs from Chess.
The game shows the pieces as if they are alive. When a piece takes another piece, an animation plays between the pieces.
It’s difficult to say any more than that because that is all there is. The animations vary depending on the unit combinations. Some pieces like the rooks are castle walls that actually transform into a golem to move around the chess board.
There is no music. Sound effects occur only when pieces are moving around or battling. The battling isn’t really battling as it is just playing an animation of whatever piece took another piece. The gameplay is identical to Chess. This game is just Chess with animations.
There are some options like ‘take back’ and multiplayer. However, the options are extremely limited.
Perhaps one of the best manuals I’ve seen in a game. The manual is all digital. You load it from your Start Menu (or whatever else you have) and it loads up in DOSbox. It’s colorful. It has pictures, charts, and I was surprised that the latter half of the manual is devoted about the history of chess. Even famous Chessmaster games are shown off in the manual. The manual totally took me by surprise.
I give the manual an A+. Superb!
What’s different from the original Battle Chess is that the graphics are much nicer, the sound effects are much nicer, there are more options (including a 2d view), modem support, and the aesthetic had changed. Instead of showing real life ‘medieval units’, Battle Chess 4000 goes for a more ‘futuristic’ look with much of a sense of humor. When the Queen takes a Knight, for example, a monolith drops and the Knight touches it. Then, the theme to Space Odyssey 2001 comes on (until the Queen pushes the monolith onto the Knight which kills him).
What is best about 4000 are the options. There is a 2d view which changes the game into a standard chessboard using normal Chess pieces with no animations. There are options for fast move, for learning modes, and even to delete units at will. If you want to play a game without queens, you can do so (or any other piece). If you find yourself losing, you can also ‘edit’ the enemy pieces away!
MANUAL FOR BATTLE CHESS 4000
Unlike Battle Chess, 4000′s manual is a regular text manual. Also, like Battle Chess, there is tons of information about the history of Chess in the end.
But this manual shocked me more. There is a full scale STORY for Battle Chess 4000. And more incredible, they actually got a writer to make it (I can tell). The story has dialogue, suspense, all for Battle Chess 4000! Apparently, Battle Chess was so popular when it was released on computers that, according to the story, people would play the game for thousands of years (hahaha). But when you exit the time portal, you are to play on the space station in the year 4000. Instead of medieval themes, they use science themes in the year 4000. This story was the most incredible and absurd thing I’ve read in a while. The manual became far more entertaining than it had any right to be!
I give this manual an A+ too. Who decided that Chess needed a story included in the manual!? I LOVE IT!!!!
I can’t say whether Battle Chess II matches Chinese Chess well or not. I don’t fully understand Chinese Chess to make that judgement. But like Battle Chess and Battle Chess 4000, the gameplay is identical to the board game versions with only animations being the difference.
The options are sparse but there are options for 2d mode. However, in Battle Chess II there are options for ROMAN 2d View (using Roman lettering) or CHINESE 2d view (using Chinese lettering because the game knows you need to be confused further).
MANUAL FOR BATTLE CHESS II
After two incredible manuals, Battle Chess II sports a text document. No images. Not much of anything in it. It does say in the text how to play Battle Chess II and gives long list of coordinates in how the pieces move. It’s not the same. I need images. The manual is no different than a GameFaqs text page.
I give it a D.
Like many other people, I did play much Battle Chess back in the day. Battle Chess 4000 and Battle Chess II are brand new to me however.
People’s love of Battle Chess is nearly entirely due to nostalgia. The game is still cool though. The aesthetics are cool. The animations are still cool. But it is so freaking old and plays so slowly. No, I don’t think nostalgia is affecting this review.
JUSTIFICATION FOR REVIEW
When I show someone my GOG shelf, people tend to notice Battle Chess. “Ooohhh, Battle Chess.” Everyone knows what Chess is and that Chess has a high gameplay value. Combine that with ‘battle’ and everyone sees the pieces fighting each other. With how popular Battle Chess was then (and even today), the game certainly sparks people’s imagination.
I wanted to savagely pound this game into the low 20s at first. These games haven’t aged well. The animations are cute the first time and annoying after that. The computer takes too long to make its move.
But the more I played, the more I realized something. These games were sparking my interest to learn about Chess in general. The manuals are filled with information. The more I played, the more I wish I knew how to play Chess better. There are some settings that help (such as difficulty settings) in the game. 2d View is my favorite.
A big surprise was Chinese Chess and how I knew nothing about how the game was played. If you wish to be introduced to play Chinese Chess, this game is good for that.
The gameplay is Chess which saves it from the lower scores. However, there are better Chess games available. Some of them are free online. There is no reason to buy this game. It is slow, sluggish, and the animations get tiring after viewing it once.
Yet, there is something cool about this game. The game just oozes early 90s coolness. It’s a neat game to have in your collection, but you aren’t going to be playing it hardly at all.
Above: 4000′s animations can be quite elaborate.