Battle Chess CD-ROM Enhanced. (computer game) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications ) (Evaluation)
by Alfred C. Giovetti, Michael C. Giovetti
Battle Chess CD-ROM was the very first MPC (Multimedia PC) entertainment product. Like many other CD-ROM products, it was a popular disc-based program that was converted to the CD-ROM format. The original Battle Chess was released in 1988, and since that time it has enjoyed enormous success in a variety of formats, including Apple II, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Amiga, Macintosh, IBM EGA, IBM VGA, IBM Windows, and IBM CD-ROM.
This latest version on IBM CD-ROM is titled Battle Chess CD-ROM Enhanced (Interplay Productions, 3710 South Susan, Suite #100, Santa Ana. California 92704-6955; 714-549-2411; $79.95). The single disc includes a version for Windows (version 1.1 MPC) and a version for DOS (version 1.0 DOS). The Windows version corrects some of the problems with the first MPC version. The footfalls (or walk sounds) are softer, and the chess pieces walk more slowly and realistically than before.
The CD-ROM Windows version has the advantage of using Windows' built-in audio mixer to separately control the volume for music, voice, and walking sounds. Neither the Windows nor the DOS version has any volume control within the game itself--only on and off controls.
Eleven actors' voices speak for the chess pieces in two battle scenes and a 25-minute cartoon tutorial. in battle, one knight taunts the other. It would be nice if there were more voices in the 49 combinations of piece against piece. The voice and music are 16-bit 44.1-KHz audio that passes directly from the CD-ROM to the sound card. It's high-quality digital sound that's identical to the audio from a home audio-CD player (you can even play the audio portions of the CD-ROM on a regular CD player).
By automatically or manually skipping frames of animation, the voices are smoothly and seamlessly synchronized with the animated lips, movements, and gestures of the chess pieces. The intricately detailed 256-color, 640 480 Super-VGA graphics and 9 frame-per-second animation use 33 megabytes of space and represent four man-years of work. It's a notable improvement over the VGA version's 16 colors. Modem play is cross-compatible with the other versions of the game, with the exception of the Commodore 64 version. For example, an Apple II user could play the same game with a CD-ROM user via modem.
Battle Chess CD-ROM Enhanced reflects the immense effort required to make this product unique on the CD-ROM platform. The addition of 256-color Super VGA graphics; 45-minutes of professionally recorded and mixed digital music, sound effects, and voice dialogue; and vastly improved graphics and animation make Battle Chess CD-ROM a special product that should be a part of every CD-ROM library.