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They said I couldn’t make a Top 10 this obscure and crazy. They were wrong.
Pop quiz, what’s the most played strategy game of all time? That’s correct, none other than Chess. Chess is the go-to strategy game for nearly anybody on the planet, and I can almost 100% guarantee you have played Chess if you are reading this. The simple game of Chess appears in games a bunch as well.
Of course, you can’t have a game of chess without the pieces. Pawns, Rooks, Knights, Bishops, a Queen, and a King. All with their own iconic designs, even the few of you who haven’t played chess can recognize these pieces at an instant. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that they’ve made multiple appearances games.
What is astonishing is I could find 10 good ones.
10-Basilisk (Archon Ultra)
Archon Ultra is basically “Extreme chess”, or better known as “Chess starring fantasy creatures”. There are two factions, good and evil. Good has the standard fantasy fare like Unicorns or mages, but the evil faction is where it’s at. Instead of a Unicorn as a Knight, they get an awesome Basilisk.
9-King Black (Learn to Play Chess: WIth Fritz and Chesster)
I think I’m literally one of the only people to ever play Learn to Play Chess: With Fritz and Chesster. It’s easy to get that impression as there’s literally only four youtube videos of it, and three of them ads. Regardless, this was a childhood game of mine, and the hilariously flat voice acting is one of its many charms. King Black is the villain of the game, and he rules over this kingdom that seems to only operate on chess by… Erm… By playing Chess really well. Video games are weird.
8-Blanche (King’s Quest VI)
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Blanche is one of the Chess pieces who shows up in King’s Quest VI, jealous of her sister’s, the Red Queen Ruffina, piece of Coal. Unlike most things in Sierra games, Blanche can not, in fact, kill you instantly.
7-Clockwork Knight (Don’t Starve)
As I’ve addressed in basically every single Top 10 i’ve ever written, but Don’t Starve has absolutely excellent enemy design. The final location in the game’s ‘story mode’ is the Chess Biome, which is home to all sorts of clockwork monstrosities. My favorite is the Clockwork Knight, a clockwork version of a chess knight that can pack quite a punch.
6-The Red King (American McGee’s Alice)
Based off of the famous scene from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, American McGee’s take on the war between the Red King and White King is much darker, as per usual Alice fare. This Red King is now a brutal ruler, who captures and executes the White Queen. While he is a bit of an easy boss battle, having to fight a giant chess piece is a novelty.
5-King Man.exe (Megaman Battle Network 3)
You can make a Robot Master out of pretty much anything. Centaur Man, Frog Man, Pharaoh Man, and Tomahawk Man are all great examples of this. But no Robot Master is as stupid or zany as KingMan.EXE, who attacks by launching other digital chess pieces. Sometimes I wonder about the sanity of Capcom...
4-Havel the Rock (Dark Souls)
One of the most infamous baddies in Dark Souls is Havel the Rock, a Bishop with armor suspiciously similar to that of a chess bishop. He will most likely crush you on your first few encounters, but once you get the basics of backstabbing down and have high enough poise he should crumble before you.
3-Bisharp (Pokemon Black/White)
Just like Megaman, they say you can practically make a Pokemon out of anything. That proved to be an accurate statement when Black and White rolled around, introducing Pawnard and Bisharp. But as anybody who has ever played Chess knows, Pawns are nothing compared to the might of a Bishop. While Bisharp doesn’t only attack diagonally, it’s still a worthy Bishop.
2-Damned Chessmen (Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening)
Yes, Devil May Cry has a Chess Set as a boss. No, not just a few chess pieces, an entire chess set. Dante fights through Damned Pawns, Knights, Bishops, and Rooks on his quest to kill the Damned King. While its not the most fun boss fight in Devil May Cry 3, it is one of the most creative.
1-Everyone (Battle Chess)
Remember that part in Harry Potter when they play Wizard Chess? You know, with the tiny pieces being animated and brutally murdering each other? That’s Battle Chess in a nutshell. It’s just like normal chess, but every capture is punctuated by a humorous (And sometimes nightmare-inducing) special animation for capturing.