by Virgin Interactive
Titus Interactive have given all you GBA owners out there the chance to take on the chess legend, Garry Kasparov. Of course there is a lot more to the game but ultimate goal is to defeat the master.
The game has four gameplay options for you. First there is the tutorial, which is always a good place to start if like me you're hopeless at chess and always get defeated easily. There is also a versus mode that you can either play on separate GBAs (with just the one game pak) or you can play on one GBA taking alternate sides. There is also a quick start mode that allows you, initially to compete against any of eight opponents including a custom opponent that you can either make really useless or totally brilliant. In this quick start mode you can elect to play from 5 minutes to 30 minutes per player move. If any player exceeds this amount of time they automatically lose. The heart of the game though is the story mode.
The story mode sees you attempting to play your way through 30 opponents to meet Kasparov. Believe me you are going to have to be good to get to Kasparov. Out of the 30 opponents you'll meet before you get to Kasparov 20 are normal players with an increasing degree of difficulty, 5 are masters and 5 are Grandmasters.
The first decision you'll make when deciding to play the story mode is whether to begin in Africa or America. In Africa you'll face Mohamed who has a poor knowledge of chess and waits to be provoked into moves. Should you elect to start in America then you'll face Liliana, a housewife with 2 children who can't concentrate after always being disturbed by the kids. At the beginning the difficulty is comfortable. You'll still have to know what's what but as long as you do, it won't be long before you move on to other continents and opponents. If a game is turned off mid-match you will be allowed to resume upon playing the game again so you needn't worry if you don't have the time to complete a match in one sitting.
Should you be new to chess then there is a 50 part tutorial for you to take part in. Everything is covered from the basics about the pieces and the board to advance movements. The text scrolls across the bottom of the screen and one thing I would comment on is that I found the text a little too quick, bearing in mind that you have to watch the text and the board. I feel that static text that required a button press to continue would have been far better. Despite this niggle though the tutorials were sufficient for the newbie and average player.
Graphically the game is fine. There are ten 2D chessboards and 2 3D chessboards. The 2D chessboards offer a nice range of colours and you can choose the one that gives the best visual clarity. The 3D chessboards are pretty useless as it is awkward to place pieces as your view is often obstructed by other pieces.
Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10 Virtual Kasparov is a must for any chess loving GBA owners. Not only does it deliver in terms of longevity but it also offers a meaty challenge for all but Kasparov himself.
Deaf Gamers comment: Absolutely fine. The only way it could be improved upon is by making the text static in the tutorials so that you have time to read the text and look at the chessboard.