Genre: Board Game
Publisher: Data East
Total time played: 1.5 Hours
Short review: If you are a fan of chess and looking for a challenge this game will give it to you. But, if you want to play a 30 year old chess game there are better options.
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Let’s Talk Box Art
If you were a kid in the early 90’s and a fan of video games the cover art of this game would really grab your attention as it looks like an action role playing game. If I saw the box without the title I would guess it was a Gauntlet or Golden Axe game. If I had rented this game as a kid I would have been very mad when I got home.
This is chess, nothing more (well, a little more that I’ll complain about later). If you look at it as a chess game only it is ok. But, there are a couple of major issues. First, it is very very slow. When you make a move it can take the computer up to a full minute to make their move. Yes, I realize that this is realistic to actual chess, but this is a video game and if you can’t improve on the real world version of the game then it shouldn’t exist.
One Thing Sets It Apart
The one thing that sets Battle Chess apart from other chess games is related to the “3d” game mode where all of the pieces have a bit more detail and when one piece captures another you are treated with a short animation battle between the pieces. The animations are actually pretty good for the NES but they are very slow and you will get tired of watching them before the first game is over.
Thankfully the developers realized that not everyone would want to see the animations and allows the player to turn them off. But, turning the animations off removes the only thing that differentiates this game from other chess games.
What’s that brown blob that appeared after the pawn jumped?
Speaking of, the game Archon (which as of April 2019 I have not played for this blog) features chess battles where the player actually controls their piece in battle and has to defeat the enemy. So, if you want to play just chess, The Chessmaster is a much better game and if you want to control chess pieces that fight, Archon is the better game.
Take Your Time
Conceptually I understand why it takes so long for the computer to make a move in this game. There are near infinite possibilities for moves and there is obviously some logic happening behind the scenes to make sure the computer makes a move that is competent for the difficulty setting the player is playing on. I could forgive this if I hadn’t played The Chessmaster which looks better, plays better and has many more difficulty settings without the long wait between each moves.
There are 6 difficulty levels. Novice and Level 1-5. I decided to give Level 2 a try as I figure it would be like playing on Medium difficulty. After about 10 attempts I realized I was not that good at chess so I dropped down to level 1. I attempted a few more times and wasn’t getting any closer to outsmarting the computer. I’m honestly not sure if I am that bad at chess or if the computer is just insanely hard. So, I ended up playing on novice and still losing more than a few times before finally beating the computer. This has been a rather humbling experience for my confidence in my chess skills.
I’ve pretty much said everything that needs to be said…If you are looking for a great chess simulator, play The Chessmaster, if you are looking for an action game based around chess, play Archon. If you are looking to be disappointed by an overly difficult game with cool box art play Battle Chess.