Chess (DOS)

Chess DOS White or Black?


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Written by  :  Nélio (2060)
Written on  :  Jun 29, 2005
Rating  :  1.71 Stars1.71 Stars1.71 Stars1.71 Stars1.71 Stars

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No game genre is immune to bad design.

The Good

One of the good things about this chess game, is that you can actually play chess. Well, with some effort (more on this soon).

There is no multiplayer support but the 24 AI levels are more than enough to keep you entertained for some time. But...

The Bad

...some bad design issues tear this one apart. If you are a retrogamer you might enjoy text-mode graphics, but Chess will disappoint you nevertheless. The pieces are poorly designed and their names must be actually written on top of them if you want to figure out what they are.

But graphics alone don't make a game bad. If the gameplay (and story, in other genres) is very good, usually people can forgive some less achieved graphics. But, unfortunately, this is not the case with Chess.

For starters, there were some bad choices while defining the user interface. Some examples:

- Pressing 'Y' (why Y?) leaves the game immediately without questioning if the player is sure;

- The board isn't numbered by default. You can press 'N' to number the board. Seems natural. The problem here is that each time you move, the board goes back to the unnumbered state. You must press 'N' on EVERY turn. Note that having the board numbered is very useful since you must write your moves (no mouse back then);

- There is no key to correct a move once you started typing it. You must force an error, typing an invalid square such as A9 to re-enter the move;

- You can only re-enter moves. You can't backspace just to correct the last few keys you entered.

There's also no load/save feature, something terrible on a game like this. You can excuse this on a game this old (three years later, MYCHESS still didn't allow this). There's a board editor that lets you setup a previous game (MYCHESS has this too), but it's a real pain to use! Examples?

- To place a piece on the board you must write a lot: A2 PK would place a Player's King on square A2 and B6 CP would place a Computer's Pawn on square B6. But once you start typing an entry on the editor, there's no way to stop. I mean, NO way. You can't force errors in the editor to abort and all other game keys cease to respond (can't leave the editor, can't leave the game, can't even see the instructions for some help on the editor's syntax);

- When you're allowed to leave the editor (before typing a new entry) you can only do so by pressing 'Z', which makes you pass your move and makes the CPU play. So, if you are continuing a "saved" game and it was your turn, don't forget to make your move inside the editor;

- If you want to erase a piece, you must place an empty square where that piece is. But instead of typing, say, A2 E (E for Empty), you have to use the same format as for placing a piece. The correct way is, for example, A2 EP, which logically means that you want to place a Pawn on square A2 that should be left Empty afterwards. Er...

To sum it all up, there were some bad design flaws on Chess that prevent it from being a memorable game.

The Bottom Line

Retrogamers, collectors and chess addicts might want to give it a try. Everyone else will probably find the design issues really, really annoying.