Someone is Making a Chess Fighting Game and It Looks Surprisingly Amusing

The long-awaited Chess Patch Notes are here

Have you ever thought that regular chess was too boring to watch? I mean, why would someone even play that?! It’s just the same plain old game that had no updates in centuries. Like, literally centuries. Has anyone ever considered giving the game another look, with flashing graphics and a new, renewing gameplay completely? Indie company BadRez did just that. Enter Checkmate Showdown.

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Checkmate Showdown is an upcoming game currently in its early development stages. With an ambitious chess-meets-fighting game proposal where each of the pieces becomes a unique fighter complete with its moveset, the title presents a bizarre, yet somewhat fascinating experience for anyone who ever asked “What does the Rook do?”. It suplexes the hell outta you, you wimpy brat.

Playing Chess As It Should Be Played

Screw Harry Potter’s lame Wizard Chess. The real game is where pieces punch themselves to death. Pieces are positioned in their usual chess starting points, but each of them is a fierce fighter determined to bring down the opposing team’s King, the final objective of your usual chess game.

Those brief clips from the game are almost the entirety of the game’s available footage at the moment. As mentioned above, it’s still in early stages, but there’s enough to get a grip on how the full game will turn out. And it looks strangely…good? The concept itself seems absurd at first, but it might just work out because of that.

With anthropomorphized chess pieces wobbling around in WWA suits, each piece/fighter has its own archetype. Rooks are Grapplers while Bishops seem to have an emphasis on Counters, for example. According to a quick game FAQ available through the official Discord, Pawns are the only pieces that don’t fight, serving to protect their bigger pals instead, but they can be promoted to stronger pieces given the right conditions.

This FAQ also informs that fully fleshed-out fighting game mechanics such as cancels, mixups and guard breaks are included, as well as native rollback netcode (read this as “decent online mode”) from the get-go. Those devs are quite resolute on memeing seriously here.

Image via BadRez

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Just like regular chess, positioning is everything as attacking first gives you a small edge over your opponent. When you have pieces covering each other, they can aid in battle through a tag assist-like system to make your brawls easier.

While it’s not regular chess, it’s not just a fancy fighting game either. But fundamentally, the game’s essence is on the latter, so SonicFox would most likely wipe the floor with Magnus Carlsen here. But having basic knowledge of chess rules seems to be important when strategizing how you’re gonna attack your opponent. 

We still need to wait and see how some elements will translate to the actual game. The queen might not be the most overpowered piece on the board, gameplay-wise, but having universal movement is probably a perk that cannot be overlooked.

Playtesting is expected to happen around summer this year, but that’s pretty much all about when we can actually play it. More information about the game should surface in the next few months, so you might wanna stick around if you really wanna bring a whole new meaning to brains and brawn.

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Patrick Souza
Patrick has been working for Prima since 2022 and joined as a Staff Writer in 2023. He's been interested in gaming journalism since college, and that was the path he took once he had his degree in hands. Diligently ignores his ever-growing backlog to keep raiding in Final Fantasy XIV, exploring in Genshin Impact or replaying some of his favorite RPGs from time to time. Loves tackling hard challenges in games, but his cats are still the hardest bosses he could ask for.