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Checkmate Showdown: Chess and Fighting Game Mashup Review

Hey there, let me talk to you about something cool I stumbled upon. It’s this wild game called “Checkmate Showdown” that throws chess and fighting games into a blender and hits ‘puree’. Honestly, it’s as fun as it sounds crazy.

It’s Like Chess, But With Fists

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Picture this: you’re playing a good old game of chess, moving your pieces around, planning your next big brain move, and then bam – you take an enemy piece, and instead of simply knocking it off the board, you roll up your sleeves and settle it with a good ol’ one-on-one fight.

Now, here’s the lowdown on how it works. When any of your big shot pieces (like the Queen or Knight) tries to take out another big shot, they have to fight it out. But here’s the kicker—Pawns, those little front-row guys, they don’t fight; they just play normal chess. Go figure.

In this game, it’s all about either taking out the other person’s King using a Pawn, like in classic chess, or getting into a fist brawl.

The Three Ways to Play

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You’ve got three choices for how to dive in: Quick Match, Ranked Match, and making a game just for you and your buddies. Sadly, I tried to get into a Quick Match plenty of times and kept hitting a wall—nobody was around to play with.

There are also three modes to test out: Classic Chess, Chess 960 (I’ll circle back to this in a moment), and Practice Fight where you can get your punches in without worrying about the chess part.

But here’s a head-scratcher: the game doesn’t really tell you what’s up with Classic Chess and Chess 960. From what I gathered, they both have the fighting bit, but I can’t say much more than that.

Keeping Track of Your Killer Moves

One neat feature is that you can record your moves. This is handy because you can look back and see how you did and where you can get better. But that’s about where the hand-holding stops. There’s no tutorial, and it won’t baby you through solo content or stuff like a campaign mode. Plus, there’s no way to pick a difficulty when you’re squaring up against the computer.

It would also be super handy if the game showed you where the enemy could move next. And, let’s talk about those fights—it seems to run at 30 frames per second, not 60, which isn’t as smooth as it could be. It also does this weird thing where it changes the camera angle for a hot second when a special move hits, which is kinda jarring.

Another downside is that when they show you the moves, they don’t put the controller icons on the screen. So you’re left to guess what button does what.

The Core of the Game: Chess Meets Street Fighter

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Despite the rough edges, the core of the game—the crazy chess/fighting hybrid—is actually a blast. If you’ve got friends to play with, it turns into something really special.

You’re following all the normal chess rules here—yes, even the funky ones like “en passant” and castling. But it throws a curveball with how you win because you can totally put your King in danger and it’s not game over.

Each fighting piece comes with their own health and special moves. The Bishop is all about those speedy kicks, the Knight has this cool shadow clone, and the Rook is tossing people around like it’s going out of style. Then there’s the Queen, zipping around and drilling through enemies, while the King calls in his Pawn buds for backup. They all have unique styles, and you can definitely tell the game creators tipped their hat to some of the big names in fighting games.

The Little Guys Steal the Show

Okay, I didn’t forget about the Pawns, the true sneaky MVPs of this game. In regular chess, these little guys don’t get much respect, but here they’re the only ones that can smash through other pieces without breaking a sweat—yep, even the King. But the catch is, they get smashed just as fast. It’s like they say, you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

If you make it across the board with a Pawn, you can trade it out for another piece—classic promotion move. And it’s more important than ever to be sharp with your Pawn game since they can make or break a match.


Let’s talk controls because they kept it simple. You’ve got a few buttons for attacking, for jumping (which feels weird to have a whole button for), throwing, asking a piece for help, and a big-deal Ultimate Move. To guard against a hit, you just move back. If you’re slick and time it right, you get a parry.

It’s worth noting, there’s no crouching where you duck down, so you can chill a bit on defense. But it also means attacking can get a little one-note. To give it some zing, they’ve got a Guard Break that punishes too much blocking and automatic fancy flips to keep folks on their toes.

The punch and kick combos flow pretty naturally, and special moves only work if you’ve got the energy for it. Everyone gets different special attacks, and only the attacker gets to use the big guns in a fight.

One thing that stands out is there’s no harm in blocking. Even the Ultimate moves don’t scrape away at you, which isn’t the norm for a fighting game.

Is It Worth Your Time?

I’m more of a casual chess player who enjoys a good fighting game from time to time, and this game mixes both in a way that feels new and fun. Chess masters might scratch their heads a bit, and hardcore fighting gamers may face a unique challenge with the non-standard approach to winning.

The lack of lower attacks and no chip damage means the pressure game is not as intense as other fighters. It might lead to more defensive play, but that could change when you get Guard Break in the mix. With all my time with the game, though, I couldn’t get in a match with another person, so it’s hard to say how it all really plays out.

For folks who love the serious fight game grind, some fine-tuning might be in order, especially around defense and punishing moves. But overall, it’s got a killer look and a great concept. The controls are a breeze, which makes the game accessible for just about anyone.

Yet, going back to the chess part, it kind of rubs me the wrong way that it tells you every possible move you can make. It’s like, “Hey, I got this.” For serious chess players, that might be annoying. Plus, if you’re good at fighting games, you could breeze through without much chess strategy, which seems a bit off.

And maybe it’s just me, but something about the fighting feels a little… off. Can’t tell you exactly what it is, but it’s there. Oh, and I’m not digging the choice for the jump button—just throws me off.

All said and done, though, I really dig Checkmate Showdown. It’s a fresh take on both worlds of chess and fighting games, and even with the bits that could use some polish, it’s a game I’m sure I’ll be coming back to. If you’re into either chess or fighting games or just want something fresh and fun, I’d say give it a swing.

Verdict: Recommended with enthusiasm;)

It’s a rollercoaster of royal battles and tactical smackdowns that’ll keep you coming back for more. I might not be a grandmaster or a fighting champ, but this game made me feel like a bit of both, and that’s a rare kind of magic.

About the author

Tom Henry

I worked as a PM in video games, now I'm trying some new things.