We played and tested Checkmate Showdown! Our impressions!

Checkmate Showdown Featured Ecran Partage

Checkmate Showdown is a mix between a chess game and a fighting game. We talked about it in our fact sheet here.

At the time of writing, the game is currently in development, so it is not finished, it may be that my impressions are skewed because everything is subject to change. Developers are iterating and taking everyone’s opinions in order to refine their game.

Checkmate Showdown is also in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign. This means that you can support the project on Kickstarter to help the developers have the resources to finish the project.

In recent months, chess has gained significant popularity thanks to the TV series The Queen’s Gambit released on Netflix. Since then, tournaments, spectators of the famous board game are constantly increasing. Streamers are having a blast on Twitch and are now followed by millions of aficionados.

It is in this context that the 2 studios behind the game started production. Developed by ManaVoid Entertainment and BadRez Games, the project caught my attention because I’ve been a huge fighting game fan for over 30 years. I study the games in this category to find the best strategies, combinations and eventually triumph. I play this kind of game competitively.

But creating a fighting game is not an easy thing, especially from scratch. It’s been 30 years since Street Fighter, Tekken, King of Fighters, Smash Bros and Mortal Kombat iterated endlessly through failure and success.

So it’s a risky bet for the developers of Checkmate Showdown.

Pizza Queen

In the company of one of the members of the game team, Antoine, I was able to test a development version.

Here are some of my impressions:

The artistic direction is neat, the characters are well differentiated with orange and purple colors for each team. However there are a little too many cyclops characters or with laser helmets for my taste. With more human characters, this would allow players to identify and have their favorite.

At the control level: each character has the following actions: Light, strong, special attack, projection, calling a character to assist for a few seconds (called Assist), and ultimate attack. You can jump with the high direction (as in other fighting games) or the jump button (as in Smash Bros) (assigned to the A button, on Xbox controller). As I discover the game, I often make mistakes and jump with A against my will.

The controls are very simple, and so are the combinations of moves. It will be easy for veterans of the genre to take the game in hand, it will take a little practice for others. The controls are universal for basic combos, launchers (moves that propel the opponent through the air to start or continue an aerial combo), special and ultimate moves.

A chess game is played normally until a piece (which is not a pawn) tries to capture another piece: at this point, it becomes a fighting game with the Horseman trying to capture the tower, the Fool or the King for example. The pawns are indeed captured directly without a fighting game phase.

When a coin wins a battle, it retains its current hit points.

Checkmate Showdown Image 1 Shared Screen
Checkmate Showdown Image 1 Shared Screen

Elo World

The developers are trying to implement the sacrosanct network code “rollback”, revered by fans of fighting games. If done correctly, it will make the game very enjoyable online. I haven’t been able to test the game online yet.

The developers want to make a game where fighting game pros can triumph, and chess game pros can triumph. For now, I only see how fighting game pros can triumph. I defeated the computer by going all over the chessboard with just one jumper.

During the tests carried out by the development team with pro chess players, Antoine told me that he clearly saw a difference in the strategy on the board. Chess players were able to pull through.

I like the way the game invites you to rethink the chess board because of the health points, the different characters and the additional strategies.

As in any competitive game, games are more enjoyable with human opponents.

Checkmate Showdown Image 2 Shared Screen
Checkmate Showdown Image 2 Shared Screen

Enter the round

Does Checkmate Showdown intend to compete with the tenors of the genre? I don’t think so. As said, other fighting games have released hundreds of iterations in over 30 years.

Does Checkmate Showdown have the potential to be fun and offer entertaining challenges with friends? Absolutely!

I can’t wait to see what the game can give in the future. Checkmate Showdown holds something special here. There is a whole balance and strategy to develop between their mix of chess game and fighting game.

The game’s team has already released several games like Epic Manager and Rainbow Billy. They are therefore a serious team and determined to carry out the project. They are also reasonable in their ambition thanks to their experience. Of course, they want to add all the functions that players demand in their game, but they don’t want to plan more than their resources allow them to accomplish. The more the game is supported, the better it will be.

Support ManaVoid Entertainment and BadRez Games by funding their Kickstarter campaign!

About Marc Shakour

Former video game programmer, columnist, teacher, competitor ... Marc has always been very familiar with the world and industry of video games. He decided to help neophytes about it, to discover new universes, worlds and fantastic creatures.

View all posts by Marc Shakour