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Chessmaster
Review By: Jared Black
Developer:   Mindscape
Publisher:   Mindscape
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Chess
ESRB:    Everyone

Chess. One of the oldest games in the world.  Much like Tetris, it's easy to learn but nigh-impossible to master.  A well-done chess videogame will feature sharp graphics and great AI--and will challenge the intellect.  Unfortunately, Chessmaster isn't a well-done chess videogame...

There are so many things wrong with this game I really don't know where to start, so I'll just start with the standard graphics description.  Since this is chess, much isn't expected.  Much isn't delivered.  The Title Screen is downright weird, and the five different board color schemes are bland and dull.  Bleh.

The sound effects are horrendous.  The sound in this game consists of: an options screen blip and an illegal move blop.  That's it.  No music, and no other sound effects.  Terrible.

However, there are a number of good options available. In addition to the five different board color schemes, there are also a couple different piece schemes (color and style).  In addition to this, the game also supports the Game Boy link cable, so if you have a friend with a Gameboy you can play against each other.

Of course, the meat of a good chess game is always the AI, and the AI here is actually pretty good. One thing the Chessmaster series has been known for is good AI, and the Gameboy version features the same good idea.  Unfortunately, this is marred by one tiny (but significant) flaw--the computer can play a whole game smartly, and then make one STUPID move.  For example, in one game I was playing the computer was tearing me up. I only had my King left, and the computer had both Bishops, a few pawns, their Queen, and some other pieces.  However, instead of making one obvious move and putting me in checkmate, the computer repeated a move three times that wasn't even near my piece.  Since I also made the same move three times (I could only move to two different spaces), the game was called a draw.  What good is great computer AI if it's going to make stupid moves like that?

Overall, this game lacks a lot of polish.  I honestly can't recommend this excuse for a game to anyone--even diehard chess fans.  If you have a chess-loving friend and a link cable, it may be worth purchasing.  Otherwise, run away!

Overall: 4.0

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