OXFORD SOFTWORKS £29.95 * Mouse
ut an Ottoman Emperor and a Russian (or Georgian or Lithuanian) peasant in the same room and they wouldn't know how to communicate. Then introduce a chessboard and – bingo! - they will be on the same wavelength as long as you let them play. That's one of the beauties of chess. In this country, the game has had a 'snob intellectual' value attached to it; this is slowly being broken down and one of the prime movers in this noble war of attrition is the home computer chess game.
Chess Champ comes with all the standards which we have come to expect; a 3-D board, 'take back' moves, booked openings and saved game. Unlike its predecessor, Chess Champion 2150, little brother comes with no speech support. The reason for this is that a bigger opening library has been added, the search extended and a 'Chess Engine' – the brains behind the beast – of 100k incorporated.
Once booted up – for some reason the screen shows a 2-D board where the pieces change into toys and animals, but at least it keeps you interested – you have to negotiate the 'what does word 12 in paragraph 23 on page 2' protection. Then you are taken straight to the flat board display with the clocks ticking. Default games have you playing white. Click on the left mouse button, with the pointer off the board, and a series of menu options are shown at the top of the screen.
One impressive point about the game, although it smacked of playing a crusty old pro trying to impress by dropping in chess technicalities – is that names of openings are displayed on screen as soon as the software recognises them. Queen's Gambit slaps on the screen early, but such lovelies as the Nimzo'-Indian Defence take their time – and rightly so. It plays like a crusty old pro' as well: more's the pity for the chess smart-arse or naive beginner.
Amiga Format, Issue 13, August 1990, p.66
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
We'll get the sound question over with right now. Save for the occasional bleep to signify a move, there's isn't any. A good thing, too, the last thing you want when training to win a £10 bet with 'Arry the chess shark down at the Rook and Ferret, is Adamski-international-Beat'S'Express blaring out to announce a check.
Graphically, it's a little on the ragged side. This is probably because looks are sacrificed to playability, another good point in my mind. Movement comes with a number of options which range from an irritating 'slide' to a zappy 'Fast Move' variation.
You do get a chance to alter the board and piece colours, so why quibble. The real chess afficionado will have a true board to hand anyway – you can't really play chess without some tactile sense. Basically the job is done in an unintrusive manner. Oh, and if anyone ever does make use of the 3-D option, that's fairly mean too.
hess Champion is 'serious' chess, and it plays one of the meanest games that you will come across. If you liked Battle Chess's humour and animation then Chess Champion probably isn't going to find itself in your all-time classic collection. But if you're just looking for a cracking game of chess against your Amiga, you can't do a lot better than this.
The game is compiled onto one disk which saves disk swapping and the loading time is quite quick. It's when you get into the game that things start to slow down. The computer-player's intelligence can take an awfully long time to reach a decision on its next move which can make playing a bit stilted. The 3D perspective makes the positions of pieces at the back of the board quite hard to see, but adds a little realism. There's also a 2D mode which is a bit clearer, but like its 3D counterpart, the colours are a bit bland and boring. Moving pieces around is easy – you just drag them to their new positions with the mouse, though the screen update becomes extremely jerky while you do this.
In all, a Spartan chess game. Kochnoi could be proud of, but not for the faint-hearted. Ideal for learners and enthusiasts of chess, but prepare for a few sound beatings.
Amiga Format, Issue 34, May 1992, p.81
Publisher: The Oxford Softworks
Authors: Chris Whittington
Release: Out now
The strength of a good computerised chess game is how much you can learn from it. It should be like having a chess club sait in your living room, the members of which can stretch your playing technique and offer advice on how to improve your game.
Chess Champion 2175, the successor to Chess Player 2150 (winner of the 1989 British Open Microcomputer Chess Championship), sets about living up to its 2000+ ELO rating (that's a very high level of chess-playing ability) with an impressive bunch of options.
The game can be viewed from either overhead or in perspective, the angle of which can be shifted around to suit, while any of five sets of playing pieces are available. As with all gimmick sets, however, you'll probably ignore the more esoteric pieces in favour of good old Staunton (the standard piece design which you should all be familiar with.
Beginners are catered for by a series of 10 ape-brained opponents, against whom the game's coarser points can be learned, though progressively more difficult levels of play can be accessed as your confidence grows. The tutorial functions are numerous, enabling you to replay moves, take pieces back and try again or even swap sides and see how the computer deals with your hopelessly untenable position. There's also a hint mode available at certain levels of play which offers you a suggested move.
The game's mouse-only control is intuitive, its apparent depth – we're talking a huge library of opening moves here – is awesome and the level of tutoring offered is comprehensive. I'm no expert at chess, but after a short time playing I found the urge to learn more – and beat the rather, smug, silent facade of this digital grandmaster – rather strong. It may be that after playing the latest all-bells-and-whistles platform-'em-up, chess seems like far too stuffy a way to pass the evening. Your mistake - Chess Champ offers a level of brain burn you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, even down at the local chess club.
Amiga Power, Issue 12, April 1992, p.77