Draughts Genius

by Giovanni Zanetti, Paolo Malnati, Raffaele Cecco
Crash Issue 45, Oct 1987   page(s) 29

Producer: Rack-It
Retail Price: £2.99
Author: Raffaele Cecco, Paolo Malnati, Giovanni Zanetti

Playing draughts against a confirmed mega-genius like Einstein could be a humiliating experience. Are you man or woman enough to do it? Easy, you think - so, as you face Einstein across the draughtboard in the professor's front room (decoration by Oxfam...), the battle of two great minds begins.

But even Einstein is beatable; there are eight skill levels in this draughts challenge, one of the first releases on Hewson's new Rack-It budget label. If he's thinking too hard you can hurry him up by pressing Q, and on noticing a fatal mistake you can cancel the last move!

To move, position the cursor on the piece you want to move, press the space-bar, transfer the cursor to the square you want to move to, and press the space-bar again to actually make the move. A counter shows how many moves you are into the game.

The crowd is breathless as everyone waits for Einstein's response. Then it's your turn to put the professor in a predicament again. If the chance arises try a multiple move, skipping like some demented leap-frogger across Albert's men and thus removing them from the board. (To make a multiple move, press the spacebar twice after moving the cursor to your target square.)

Impatient Einstein will tell you when it's your move and when it's his. And on winning or losing, you are either applauded by the genius or ridiculed for your pea-brained incompetence.


Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: good perspective on the board, and attractive surrounds
Sound: tune to go with the opening dance routine
Options: eight skill levels

Games seem to be head back to the past, what with Breakout variants, Battleships and now draughts - where has originality gone? Still, Draughts Genius has everything you could possibly ask of a game based on draughts. The graphics are reasonable, with some nice attention to detail, and the computer offers a mean game - but remember you can buy a draughts set for about this price and the board can double as a chessboard!
ROBIN [57%]

Don't think this is just another boring draughts game - it's full of cute little animated sequences (like all the programming team dancing around the piano at the start, and the things Einstein does when he wins and loses). Colour is used well and the background on the main screen is fantastic. Underneath the fancy stuff there's a first-class draughts game with useful skill levels, and even if you're no good at draughts you can use the cheats to win in Draughts Genius!
NICK [69%]

Draughts Genius is good fun, and a worthwhile buy at not much more than a draughts set. The one-moveback trick is a good cheat, and Einstein is quite amusingly animated. This is worth getting, even though I can't beat Level 6.
MIKE [79%]

Presentation: 74%
Graphics: 71%
Playability: 68%
Addictive Qualities: 64%
Overall: 68%

Summary: General Rating: Good implementation of draughts.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 23, Nov 1987   page(s) 50


Here's a draughts game you won't catch a cold from. Draughts Genius is the first release on Hewson's new Rack-It budget label, but don't fret - this isn't a cover to release old dross as new but cheaper dross. With Mastertronic handling the business end, Hewson promises a regular supply of high quality games at hilariously low prices. And starting it all off, Draughts Genius at £2.99, is a classy little package.

With eight levels of difficulty, it's you against the computer in the form of Einstein (sic!) who's rather nattily realised in the good, bright and colourful graphics. The violin-playing prof burps little speech bubbles to tell you it's your move, or that you've done something ilegal. He also scratches his head while thinking (and the screen turns blue), and looks bored if you take your time, though he's a good enough sport to shake hands if you're triumphant.

You're always black and go first if you're up against Einstein, but he can also play himself, or you can go into a human head-to-head. Most of the screen is the board so you're given a huge wide of your pieces than you'd get in many (more expensive) chess simulations.

Moves can be made with joystick or keyboard, and are achieved by clicking on a draught, then double clicking over the required square. This facility gives you the opportunity to suss out what a dumb move you've made and change your mind. On-screen info lets you know whose move it is, how many moves you've taken, which level you're on and the time elapsed.

All genius has its flaws of course, and this one's no exception. It only plays the "English" game, where you have to take, no huffing. This cuts down on possible subtleties. And I wonder if the early levels are not a little too easy. It wasn't until level five that I wasn't able to beat Einstein first whack. (But then you've always been a clever clogs, haven't you? Ed). Mind you, it makes a pleasant change to beat the machine, and gives the game tremendous playability for every age and skill. Let's hear a big cheer for a cheapie!

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

Summary: Proving that 'budget' doesn't have to mean 'dross', a playable cheapie, but perhaps a little on the easy side.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 68, Nov 1987   page(s) 47

Label: Rack-It
Author: In-house
Price: £2.99
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Timothy Closs

Hmm... Draughts Genius sounds like the cowboy who fitted my double glazing. With this game Hewson has tried to do for that ancient board game what Domark did for Trivial Pursuit - and haven't done a bad job of it.

The setting is Einstein's study. Scientific paraphernalia provides the backdrop, whilst a neatly drawn 3D board separates you from the man himself. You can play against a friend or the computer, or simply watch ol' Alfy play himself. Your pieces are moved by simple cursor control, and the computer responds at a specified skill level. Level one response is instantaneous, but you'll have to wait half an hour for a move at level eight!

Little ditties strike up at various stages of the game, whilst Einstein does Roger Moore impressions with his wrinkles. Overall, it's as good a game as you could expect from an essentially dull concept. Would appeal to draughts fanatics, but I can't see it converting the average game player into a hardened chequer board freak.

Overall: 7/10

Summary: Nice conversion of an essentially insomnia-curing game. Pretty graphics.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 2, Nov 1987   page(s) 76

Hewson get into the board-game RACK-IT.

If draughts is your game then give Draughts Genius a go. You face Albert Einstein across the old chequered board and if he starts to win he gets very smug indeed.

Genius gives good strong opposition on its higher levels though it's by no means unbeatable. The amusing graphics add to the interest. But wasn't Albert more of a chess fan?

Dave Packer

Spectrum, £2.99cs, Reviewed
Amstrad, CPC £2.99cs, October

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 50/100
1 hour: 60/100
1 day: 50/100
1 week: 40/100
1 month: 20/100
1 year: 10/100

Visual Effects: 4/7
Audio: 3/7
IQ Factor: 5/7
Fun Factor: 4/7
Ace Rating: 493/1000

Summary: Not instantly appealing, but some lasting interest.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 73, Nov 1987   page(s) 46

MACHINES: Spectrum
SUPPLIER: Hewson/Rack-It
PRICE: £2.99

Hewson kicks off its new budget range with a whole bunch of strong titles for all formats. Draughts Genius is a nice Spectrum simulation of the well-known board game. It features nicely animated graphics and enough skill levels to keep even the most demanding checkerboard challenger happy.

You can play the computer or another human opponent - or get the computer to play itself if you feel like it!

Load in the game and you find yourself facing a very famous person - it's a pixelated Einstein, probably the most famous draughts player ever!

You make the moves by using a simple cursor a the game tells you when you're making a wrong move using a speech bubble from the Prof's mouth. He also makes comments throughout the game.

The rules of the game are as the real thing - and are simple enough to pick even if you've never played the game before.

The animated Einstein really adds an element of fun to the game and gives you someone to challenge if you're playing alone. You get a real buzz if you manage to beat him at a high skill level.

Great value, nicely presented and lots of fun to play. What more could you want from a budget game?

Graphics: 8/10
Sound: N/A
Value: 8/10
Playability: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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