LYNX: The Fidelity Ultimate Chess Challenge

From: Robert Jung (ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 05/18/91-11:59:44 AM Z

From: ap803@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Robert Jung)
Subject: LYNX: The Fidelity Ultimate Chess Challenge
Date: Sat May 18 11:59:44 1991

  (Another week, another Lynx game. Heck, at this rate, we'll surpass
the TurboExpress library...  B-)

1-2 players, horizontal game
Telegames, for the Atari Lynx

  We all knew it would happen, sooner or later. After all, even
portable video gamers cannot live on action-arcade titles alone. Now
filling a void, Telegames Inc. has released THE FIDELITY ULTIMATE CHESS
CHALLENGE for the Atari Lynx. There's not much that needs to be said,
really; this is a one- or two-player version of (Western) chess,
following all of the standard rules for the game. If you don't know how
to play chess, get a different game.

  (Quick note: Though this game seems to be packaged and distributed by
Atari, there are enough signs that this is an independent developer's
effort. Everything on this game is credited to Telegames Inc., so all
praises and criticisms must fall squarely on their shoulders...)

  What does this version of chess offer? FIDELITY CHESS (for short)
lets one or two players play chess with a _single_ Lynx. The computer
offers 17 levels of difficulty -- 8 levels based on search depth, 8
levels based on analysis time, and an "ultimate" level using unlimited
time and searching. You can ask the computer for hints, force it to make
a move immediately, and take back moves (up to 100 full moves can be
taken back). The board offers gold and silver pieces on a 2-D or 3-D
board, and game sounds, messages, and other features can be toggled and
selected during a game. Finally, the entire current chess game is logged
in standard chess notation, and can be reviewed, along with a running
count of the players' scores (based on pieces remaining).

  The most important question, naturally, is how well FIDELITY CHESS
plays the game. Though I enjoy the game, I don't claim to be a chess
expert; however, the Lynx appears to play a very respectable game. For a
test, I pitted FIDELITY CHESS (on the Lynx's 65C02) versus the computer
game BATTLE CHESS (on a 68000). Although the Lynx took longer to make
decisions deeper into the game, it ultimately checked and mated in 23
moves. With "ultimate" mode, FIDELITY CHESS may just be almost impossible
to defeat. On higher levels, it can take quite some time for the computer
to make a move. To counteract this, the Lynx's automatic shutoff feature
is disabled.

  A few minor quibbles with the game. Control response is the most
sluggish I've ever seen in a Lynx game. Specifically, response to button
presses are not always instantaneous, for some reason. Also, while there
is an icon-driven Setup screen to help you set options, not all features
are available. Without reading the manual, you'd need an accident to find
out about features such as taking back a move (press A and B

  There is one large flaw in FIDELITY CHESS, however: The game has no
"board set up" feature. The manual suggests that you can set up a game by
playing a two-player contest to the desired point, then switching to a
one-player game; however, I find this suggestion cumbersome and
unfriendly. Essentally, then, you must either finish a game at one
sitting, or log all the moves to recreate (and continue) a game at a
later time. Very dissappointing.

  The graphics and sound on FIDELITY CHESS are functional, but nothing
more. That's fine, though; flashy graphics and noises can be a
distracting irritant if done improperly. The chess pieces in both 2-D and
3-D mode are clear and distinctive (though a little large in 3-D mode, in
my opinion). Sounds are similarly sparse; aside from a musical ditty
played at the title page, the only noises available are the chimes that
are played when a piece is moved, or a message is displayed.

  Telegames has made a respectable entry into the Lynx game market with
this title. As a chess game, THE FIDELITY ULTIMATE CHESS CHALLENGE fits
the bill. It plays a strong, challenging game, though it presumes some
knowledge of chess on your part. The lack of a board set-up option,
however, is inexcusable; it could have been added with very little
effort. However, if you can live with this omission, and want to play
chess on the go, then FIDELITY CHESS is a good solution.

                GAMEPLAY:        7
                GRAPHICS:        6
                SOUND:           6
                OVERALL:         7

          Rating values  10 - 8   Great! A value at the regular price.
                          7 - 5   Good. Buy if you're interested
                                     or if it's discounted.
                          4 - 2   Poor. For die-hards only.
                              1   Ick. Shoot it, please.


  All this cerebral simulation stuff is fine and good, but how about a little
mindless arcade action?


Send whatevers to | If it has pixels, I'm for it.
--------------------------------------+----------------------------Lynx me up!
       "If it moves, shoot it. If it doesn't move, shoot it anyway."

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