October 21, 2017
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Publisher: MacPlay    Genre: Board & Card
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 50 MB    Graphics: 800x600

Kasparov Chessmate
February 9, 2004 | Gregory Martinez

Click to enlarge
There are no rampant hordes of Flood or Zerg aliens to blast with your shotgun or Fire Bat troopers. No Banshee aircraft needing to be brought down with a rocket. Chess will not test your physical reflexes or entertain you with startling graphics and eye candy. However, it is a game of strategy, therefore making it a good game to excercise your military mind in preparation for those long StarCraft or Halo military campaigns. Before I proceed with this review, let me confess that while I really enjoy a good game of chess, the fact of the matter is that I was never very good at it. However, being able to play against computers has improved my game somewhat.

Mac OS X already comes with a decent chess program, and there are other decent freeware/shareware chess games available as well. Is Kasparov Chessmate (KC), sold by MacPlay, worth $20?

You have your choice of playing full screen or in window mode. More on this in the graphics section below.

In addition to playing against the computer at various levels of difficulty, there is an adequate Hint feature for having the computer advise you on possible moves. While this is useful to help improve your game or even help you learn to play, it is far from perfect. Sometimes it will not give enough detail for you to move the way it intends for you to move. It will sometimes say something like "Use your knight on d5 to capture [opponents name] pawn." I saw at least one instance in which there were two possible pawns my knight could capture, in one possible move (to capture a pawn) it would also result in the loss of my knight at the hands of the enemy queen, the other possible pawn capture would be an easy victim and with my knight surviving. I could tell which pawn should be captured. However, newbies to chess may get confused. So, if you use the Hints feature to learn chess, caution is advisable.

Play is smooth and stable on my machine, and because of the modest system requirements it should be just fine on most machines, which would not be surprising for a board game. It has a simple and intuitive interface with a Game Menu, History (of game moves), Hints, Resign, and Offer Draw.

It has an multiplayer feature in which you can play others online, as long as you know their IP address. How well this works I do not know, since I know nobody else online who owns this new game, so I have not tested its capabilities. However, it is plain that the feature is limited. There is no online community to participate in as far as I can tell. It also comes with a Palm version, likewise I do not own a Palm, so I did not test it's Palm game play either. But it is nice to see a Mac chess game with both Internet and Palm capability.

Another nice feature is how easy it is to differentiate between selecting a pawn and a larger piece in the last row on a 3D board at the start of the game. When holding the mouse cursor over a pawn, you see the whole pawn overlayed over the other piece so you absolutely know which piece is selected when you click to move.

As far as documentation goes, it is extemely limited. There should have been at least a PDF included of basic chess rules.


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