Game Review Data

Game Title

Ubi Soft
1 to 2 Players. Battery Save.
Chess Sim
Andrew Blanchard



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Chess Sims are a little like buses. You wait for one for ages and then two come along at the same time. We've already reviewed the excellent Virtual Kasparov some weeks ago but Chessmaster is a well recognised franchise which has been running well over 10 years now. As a result we're expecting big things of this title which has spanned all the major formats and which has an unmatched pedigree in computerised chess. It will be interesting to see if it can better the extended features delivered by the Kasparov title and, just as important, will it be appealing to both experts and beginners?

Screen Shots


Firstly let me say that if you haven't played chess before then this is an excellent route into the thinking person's game. There are a number of tutorials and after working through them you should know the game inside out. From a technical standpoint anyway! Even when playing early games there's help at hand via the 'hint' option where the Chessmaster will set you in the right direction with the best move available. In addition to this you're treated to famous games dating back over 100 years which may be fascinating for chess fans but perhaps not so interesting for the casual gamer.

If you find after all that tutoring you have no one to challenge with your new found skills Chessmaster can provide 18 various opponents with varying levels of AI. This is the all important feature as an opponent that can judge, predict and act upon your every move would make for a very frustrating and unrewarding game. There are ten levels of expertise but most gamers will want to start around the midway mark. Choosing an opponent with an AI of ten makes the game almost impossible not to mention intimidating.

You also have the option to lay down restrictions such as a time limit for each player to move and a unique feature allows you to pit two AI players against one another which always yields surprising results. The on screen display shows not only the total game time but also those chess based coordinates comprising of letters and numbers which seem to baffle most people even more than map reading does.


As with other board games on handhelds the control layout replicates that of a PC. It's all simple enough with 'A' and 'B' taking on the role of the mouse buttons and the 'D-pad' for movement. Don't let that fool you though as there are loads of options here so although the interface is simple you'll still do a fair amount of button pressing to get your game setup just right.


Although there doesn't seem to be a lot you can do to change the appearance of chess while maintaining the game's integrity, Ubi Soft have done just that. Hidden in one of the options menus is the ability to alter the chess sets into several imaginative designs including wood, circus and space. Everything is purely functional as you'd expect but it is still nice to see a developer taking risks with such an established game type.

Sound & Music

It would have been easier to simply skip over this section rather than tackle the audio side of Chessmaster at all. Put simply there's the minimum here, the only real purpose of the sound being to inform the player that they've selected a piece. Predictable but disappointing none the less.

Final Comments

There really isn't an awful lot to separate Virtual Kasparov and Chessmaster as they both do exactly what they say on the box and where the former has the adventure mode, this title is far more accessible to younger players as a result of the numerous board styles and learning curve. It really is a 'try before you buy' situation but chess enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Chessmaster proves to be a worthy opponent and provides an enjoyable and fulfilling game.

@ EAGB Advance 2002. All rights reserved.