Back to Basics with Battle Chess

Back to Basics with Battle Chess

by Alex J Coyne © Gifts for Card Players

Chess is an ancient war-game of strategy and wits; one which people have been playing for thousands of years. Now, if you found yourself at a computer in the 80s and 90s as a chess fan, you will remember playing at least one game of Battle Chess. It’s a classic as far as classics go, and it started an entire genre of chess games in response – and got a lot of people into at least a casual game of chess.

The First Battle Chess

The first edition of Battle Chess was released in 1988 by the game company Interplay – which, if you’re a gamer, you might also remember from other titles like Baldur’s Gate. Battle Chess opened up completely new frontiers for chess games, and while some reviewers noted that the game’s AI could have used some work, most were really impressed with the gameplay.

The game was filled with animations of chess pieces in battle, which added a completely new dimension to chess (before anyone came up with three-level-chess btw– yes, that’s a thing).

In 1990, Interplay released a sequel called Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess.

In 1992, they released another sequel called Battle Chess 4000 that put a futuristic spin on the game. The same year they also released an Enhanced CD-ROM cut of the original Battle Chess which contained some updated graphics.


It took a considerable long time for Interplay to bring anything else to the chess world. In 2015, they finally released Battle Chess: Game of Kings as a game to complete the franchise – and in 2016, the company sold off most of their intellectual properties.

The influence, of course, took: There have been plenty of chess game clones that aimed to follow the same idea as Battle Chess featuring graphic, interactive game-play.

To name just a few of them, there was Star Wars Chess (1993), Combat Chess (1997) and Battle vs. Chess (2011) – all of which likely took their original inspiration from a game of Battle Chess.

Chess Minigames in Other Games

Battle Chess was also likely the inspiration behind programmers and game developers adding chess as a minigame within other games. Just a few of them that are worth mentioning are Watch Dogs, Grand Theft Auto 5 and Minecraft. Apparently even Mortal Kombat had an in-game called Chess Kombat, first introduced in Mortal Kombat Deception. Of course, you can also play a game of Wizard’s Chess if that’s your thing instead.

Photo by Wim van ‘t Einde on Unsplash
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