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-
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-
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-
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.