Colossus Chess 4

by Carl Cropley, Martin Bryant
CDS Microsystems
Your Sinclair Issue 10, Oct 1986   page(s) 28


Calling this Colossus was, I presume, a carefully calculated strategy to reduce us wordplaying reviewers to the punful state of calling it 'colossal'. Well, as far as options and games go, it obviously is fairly... err... mega-good (Phew!) but when it comes to the instructions and general presentation it loses the odd point.

Colossus 4 comes from a long line of highly rated chess proggies, much favoured by addicts. I wouldn't claim to be a Grand Master - in fact Psion's 1K ZX81 program usually beat me hollow - but even to the sort of player who loses his queen after only five moves, the strengths of Colossus are obvious.

If you want proof that a CPU is better qualified for quick thinking than the old grey matter, you can even watch it sorting through all the possible lines of play as it prepares to thrash you. The manual boasts that Colossus crushes Superchess 3.5 and Cyrus IS, which is pretty impressive, by any standards.

For those into the game's more esoteric outposts, there's a good selection of time options, allowing for blitz games and the like, and you can set up the board for problem solving. Microdrivers have a bonus selection of classic games and problems to solve, while only the most daring players won't vanish at the merest suggestion of Invisible Chess, in which either or both sets of pieces are concealed, so that you have to memorise the positions.

If this sounds like driving round Spaghetti Junction with a blindfold, you'll be glad to know that you can control the difficulty by cutting back on how well the micro thinks - the equivalent in real terms of playing Karpov... with Motorhead providing a slight background distraction.

Unfortunately the 3D chess board graphics are small and rather indistinct. While moving the pieces is neatly controlled by a cursor, you could spend some time searching through the instructions if you want to know how to do something relatively simple, such as changing sides. Eventually I'm sure you'll get used to the multitude of control keys, but at first it can be an irritating diversion when you'd rather be playing.

Colossus is impressive in its options and should please anybody who's looking for some hard core pawn action, but if you want a prettier, albeit less demanding game, you may do better elsewhere.

Graphics: 6/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 9/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 73, Apr 1988   page(s) 43

Label: CDS Software
Author: M. Bryant
Price: £14.99
Memory: 128K (+3 only)
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Tony 'Grandmaster' Dillonoschoff

Colossus 4 Chess brings a lot of promise with it. It heralds itself as being the greatest 8 bit chess program available, but I feel I have to disagree. The old PSION Sinclair Chess program was pretty fab but I feel that PSI Chess is the best 8 bit chess game around. Colossus Chess has all the features of most of the chess programs about. It boasts 16 levels, which is quite impressive, and to be honest it does provide a good challenge. The screen layout is clear and in 3D perspective (or 2D newspaper style if you want) though still lack the 'cleaness' and finish of some other programs. Altogether, a very good attempt, but I can't see sales booming, not at this price anyway.

Overall: 7/10

Summary: Average chess game with a fair level of playability, but there are better ones on the market.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 6, Mar 1988   page(s) 66, 67

C64, £9.95cs, C14.95dk
Amstrad CPC, £9.95cs, £13.95dk
Amstrad PCW, £15.95dk
Spectrum, £9.95cs

Very strong player, but not too hot in its 3D display mode; the pieces are not well-defined and it can be easy to confuse them. Perfectly clear, though, in 2D mode. If strength of play is more important to you than smart graphics, then it has to be your choice.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 30, Oct 1986   page(s) 43,49




This program is definitely for the chess connoisseur - and the chess masochist. With an "opening book" of approximately 3000 positions and a move evaluation system that examines on average 170 moves per second in the middlegame we are looking at a class program here and unless you are a class player you will be staring defeat in the face.

Of course there are features such as takeback and next/best move where the computer can be compelled to choose a second or third best move to soften the program's superiority (if you are unscrupulous), but even then it will give you a hard game.

The program is crammed with features and purchasers of the microdrive version get a bonus in the form of 34 games that can be loaded and analysed with the replay function.

Controls are simple to master and most major functions can be accessed quickly using the shift key. For instance if you want to deprive your computer opponent of time a useful command is SHIFT G which forces the computer to move immediately. There is also the Supervisor mode (SHIFT S) that stops the computer playing and allows you to make moves for both sides. It is also possible to switch sides in mid-game - a boon if you are being trounced or like hollow victories.


Graphically Colossus 4 is more than adequate, though not stunning. The 3-D display is not well enough defined to make it enjoyable to play with for any length of time. It can be confusing distinguishing which pieces are which and the display only takes up about half the screen. I found it more pleasing to play on the conventional two dimensional board where it's easier to keep track of the game.

If you want to watch Colossus in action against an opponent of equal stature (ie Colossus) there is a Play-self option that displays a game of computer-against-computer chess. By pressing the delete key you can step back into the action on either side while there is a pause between moves.

It is difficult to imagine a more complete chess program, and more features than can be outlined here are described in an easy to follow 24 page booklet that comes with the game., The booklet also contains Colossus' past fixture list against other home computer chess games. Few managed to get more than the odd game in 16 and many suffered a humiliating whitewash. So it comes as no surprise that mere human opponents are cannon fodder for Colossus.

If you want a chess program to stretch you to the limit there is nothing to touch Colossus and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in Chess. A Grandmaster Monster Hit.

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Award: ZX Computing ZX Monster Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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