Battle Chess

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Battle Chess
Battle Chess box cover
Cover art showing the red queen killing a blue knight
Developer(s) Interplay
Silicon & Synapse (C64)[1]
Publisher(s) Interplay
Producer(s) Brian Fargo
Designer(s) Michael Quarles
Jayesh J. Patel
Troy P. Worrell
Artist(s) Todd J. Camasta
Bruce Schlickbernd
Platform(s) Amiga, 3DO, Acorn Archimedes, Amiga CD32, Amiga CDTV, Apple IIGS, Apple IIe, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, FM Towns, NES, Mac OS, PC-98, Sharp X68000, Windows 3.x
Release date(s) 1988-1994
Genre(s) Chess
Mode(s) Single player, two player

Battle Chess is a video game version of chess in which the chess pieces come to life and battle one another when capturing. It was originally developed and released by Interplay Entertainment for the Amiga in 1988 and subsequently on many other systems, including 3DO, Acorn Archimedes, Amiga CD32, Amiga CDTV, Apple IIGS, Apple IIe, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, FM Towns, NES, Mac OS, PC-98, Sharp X68000 and Windows 3.x. In 1991, Battle Chess Enhanced was released by Interplay for the PC, featuring improved VGA graphics and a symphonic musical score that played from the CD-ROM.

Battle Chess was critically acclaimed and commercially successful, resulting in two official follow-ups as well as several inspired games. Its remake, Battle Chess: Game of Kings, was released on Steam (software) on March 16, 2014.

Gameplay[edit]

Atari ST gameplay screenshot

Since there are six types of pieces for each color, and a king cannot capture a king, there are 35 battle animations.[2] The rook, for example, turns into a rock monster and kills a pawn by smashing his head. Some battle sequences like knight versus knight, or king versus bishop, are direct references to the black knight fight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the short battle between Indiana Jones and a swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark, respectively.

The game can be also played in a 2D version with no animations, and the Amiga CDTV version features a fully voiced introduction describing the movements of the pieces for the benefit of beginners. Digitized sound is utilized in the DOS version for all battle sound effects and is played through the PC speaker, without the need for a sound card, using a technique akin to RealSound.

Battle Chess could be played against a human opponent (by hotseat, or by null modem or over a local area network in some ports) or against the computer's artificial intelligence (AI).[2] The game has an opening library from over 30,000 moves (which were not available for the Commodore 64 and Apple II versions).

Development[edit]

Battle Chess was the first title developed and published by Interplay Entertainment themselves after ending their relationship with Electronic Arts, besides Neuromancer. The game was featured in the 1992 film Knight Moves about a chess grandmaster who is accused of several murders.[3] Battle Chess producer and Interplay's founder Brian Fargo expressed his fondness for the game in a 2006 interview, although he added that he did not think there would be much of an audience for it today.[4]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Review scores
Publication Score
Computer and Video Games 84%[5]
Dragon (magazine) 3.5/5 stars[6]
5/5 stars (CD)[7]
Amiga User International 9/10[8]
Commodore User 85%[9]
ST/Amiga Format 84%[10]

The Amiga version received favourable reviews from magazines due its comical battle sequences which were advanced (for the time) in terms of graphics, animation and sound. German game magazine ASM, however, criticized the weak chess AI.[11] Interplay won "Best Graphics Achievement In A Non-Graphics Product" from Software Publishers Association (later renamed to Software and Information Industry Association) for Battle Chess.[12] In 1996, Computer Gaming World ranked it as the 106th best game of all time for its "funny, elaborate animated sequences and spectacular special effects."[13]

Legacy[edit]

Sequels[edit]

A sequel titled Battle Chess II Chinese Chess was released in 1991, based on xiangqi, commonly known as "Chinese chess". The next year's Battle Chess 4000 spoofed science fiction movies and television series (such as a battle sequence involving the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and used a clay animation art style similar to Clayfighter.

Inspired games[edit]

Battle Chess also spawned a number of inspired games, such as Star Wars Chess, released by Software Toolworks in 1993,[14] Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Chess Wars, developed by Capstone Software and released by IntraCorp also in 1993,[15] and National Lampoon's Chess Maniac 5 Billion and 1. Another clone, War Chess was released by XS Games for the PlayStation 2 in 2005,[16] and was later ported to the PC by Big Fish Games and released online.[17]

One similar game, titled Battle vs. Chess, was developed by TopWare Interactive for "just about every platform".[18] However, Interplay filed and won an injunction for trademark infringement in 2010 and TopWare was prevented from releasing Battle vs Chess in the United States.[19] The District Court of California came into session and given that after two years of litigation, TopWare Interactive discharged their lawyer, resulting in Interplay winning the case by default.[20]

Remake[edit]

The remake Battle Chess: Game of Kings was released by Interplay on Steam in 2014.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Decade of Blizzard". IGN. 2001-02-01. Retrieved 2008-07-07. "Commodore 64 Battle Chess, Windows Battle Chess, Amiga Battle Chess II, Amiga Lord of the Rings, and Windows Shanghai were some of our early projects." 
  2. ^ a b St. Andre, Ken (Feb 1989). "Low Blows and Other Winning Moves". Computer Gaming World. p. 27. 
  3. ^ Knight Moves Chess in the Cinema
  4. ^ inXile Entertainment Update - News and Siteseeing
  5. ^ Battle Chess review from Computer + Video Games 87 (Jan 1989) - Amiga Magazine Rack
  6. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (April 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (144): 60–68. 
  7. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (April 1993). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (192): 57–63. 
  8. ^ Battle Chess review from AUI Vol 2 No 12 (Dec 1988) - Amiga Magazine Rack
  9. ^ Battle Chess review from Commodore User (Nov 1988) - Amiga Magazine Rack
  10. ^ Battle Chess review from ST Amiga Format 6 (Dec 1988) - Amiga Magazine Rack
  11. ^ "DIE Kult Seite über die alten Spiele-Magazine und Retro-Games!". Kultboy.com. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  12. ^ "Battle Chess - Cover Art". MobyGames. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  13. ^ CGW 148: 150 Best Games of All Time
  14. ^ "Star Wars Chess for DOS (1993)". MobyGames. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  15. ^ "Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Chess Wars for DOS (1993)". MobyGames. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  16. ^ "War Chess Release Information for PlayStation 2". GameFAQs. 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  17. ^ "War Chess Game Download for PC". Big Fish Games. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  18. ^ McElroy, Griffin (2010-05-27). "Battle vs. Chess coming this Fall to just about every platform". Joystiq. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  19. ^ "Interplay wins injunction against Topware's Battle vs Chess game". News.bigdownload.com. 2010-12-25. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  20. ^ "Interplay Wins over TopWare in "Battle vs. Chess" Affair - Bright Side Of News*". Brightsideofnews.com. 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 

External links[edit]