Cohort Chess Review—Good for Beginners but Ends in a Stalemate


I’m not a big fan of chess; in fact, I really don’t have any interest in the game at all, so when I was given the opportunity to play and review Cohort Chess, I wasn’t really that excited. Having very little knowledge of the game (I knew it involved black and white pieces and the horse moved in an L shape) did make me a little hesitant at first, but fortunately for me, Cohort Studios included a tutorial which contains basic instructions about chess, how each piece moves and also some fairly useful tactics for beginners. Unlike me, if you know how to play chess, you can jump straight into either the Quick Game or Chess Problems modes.

In Quick Game, there are six international chess champions to play, each one more difficult than the last. Once you have chosen your opponent, you can then choose to play as either the black or white pieces. The layout of the in-game screen is a little different from expected, with the chess board on the right half of the screen, while the other half is taken up by a large and rather ugly caricature of your opponent. I’ll admit, this is certainly a unique approach to the game layout, but it feels like there is a little more effort going into the design of the characters than into the chess board and pieces, with both the board and pieces being 2D. However, I do like the change in expressions on the faces of the opposition; for instance, they’ll frown or sneer when you take one of their pieces or smirk or grin when they put you in check. If at any point during the match, you are stuck or have changed your mind about a move you just made, you are able to use a hint or undo your previous move by pushing Triangle or Square. However, the number of hints and undos that are available to use is limited, and you are given less of each when facing higher-ranked opposition. There is very little sound in the game, and although this may keep with the aesthetics of chess, it would have been nice to include the option of music, as utter silence until you move a piece can be almost deafening.


If you get bored of playing against the computer, Cohort has also included the Chess Problems mode, where there are 24 different puzzles in which your objective is to checkmate the computer with only one, two or three moves. I found this challenging probably due to one of two reasons, either that I’m just plain rubbish at chess or my strategic skills are not as good as I once thought. Either way, it certainly added an interesting element to the game. It would have been nice if you were able to create your own puzzles so that you could challenge a friend. For those of you who would like to challenge a friend, Cohort has also included a two-player mode where you play a friend by passing the PSP back and forth.

Unfortunately, as Cohort Chess is basically a chess sim, there is very little in the way of depth; you can either play a friend or the computer, and there are a few challenges, but after that, there really isn’t much to do. A few choices of board or piece variations would also have been a good inclusion, so as to give the game a little more depth. Once you have beaten all six opponents and completed all the challenges, there really isn’t much else to the game, and if you really do enjoy chess, chances are you already have a chess board to play with friends. The only benefit I can see with the two-player feature is if you are on a road trip and have no access to a chess board.

If you are looking to learn how to play chess or are a die-hard fan, then Cohort Chess is certainly a solid simulator, but for the rest of us, it will hold very little in the way of entertainment. The title offers very little in the sound department, and with so-so graphics, it is certainly not a game for everyone.


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7 Responses to “Cohort Chess Review—Good for Beginners but Ends in a Stalemate”
  1. taoofgreentea says:

    I have this game. I like that it’s very simple, and that the AI can be real stupid so you don’t have to concentrate, lol. I hate that when you play black, it doesn’t turn the board around, so you’re pretty much stuck with playing white, unless you want to play upside down.

    I also have the chessmaster one. It’s a lot more featured. I don’t play either very much, chess is a hard game that so far, I’m only in the mood for now and then. And yes I’d recommend the chessmaster one over this one.

  2. confuletlyf says:

    … was tempted because it could be played 2 player, but I have a lot of trouble trying to play chess without the proper pieces. (had a travel version with the little pictures, have trouble seeing the plays on the board without a 3d model)

  3. cr7camiao says:

    The game seems good but it has no replay value….

    It should have a career mode, 24 challenges doesn’t seem that many. And the game deserved 3D pieces besides different boards and different piece materials. Cohort Studios could do much more for this mini.

  4. JeremyR says:

    It’s not something to play and beat, it’s something to play because you like playing Chess.

    With that said, I think the AI in this isn’t too bright. I am terrible at Chess and I managed to beat the AI on most the difficulty levels. I used to lose to a Chess game on the C-64 that I typed in from a magazine…

  5. volcane says:

    I’ve been hoping for a chess game to hit the Minis so I’ll be picking this up when it arrives on the UK PSN.

  6. lily says:

    I have chessmaster, but I might buy this so I can pass and play with my husband, if the price is right. If only chess were more exciting. Is there a timer on the 2 player mode?


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