Review: Chinese Checkers (DOS)

By Drew Wilson

Chinese Checkers is a classic board game that was made into a number of video games. This is one such instance. We take a look at this small game and see if it’s worth checking out these days.

This particular version of Chinese Checkers was released in 1991 (as per the title screen). There’s many versions of this game that have been produced over the years including a physical board game version (which was always awesome when it came to making sure you don’t lose any of the marbles).

While many games boast of being able to support multiplayer modes – some of which support up to four players, this game allows up to 8 players which can be played by either human or computer. That’s actually pretty impressive in a pre-MMO world (Starcraft was made 7 years after this game was released). Granted, the mechanics for this game allowed for this to easily happen, mind you.

The object of the game is very simple – get all of your men across to the other side of the board in the green triangle identical to the green triangle you started off with. Each color is associated with a particular character. For instance, red allows you to play the dragon. Green allows you to play the preying mantis. Purple allows you to play wind. Those are just 3 examples of the 8 possible players.

what can aid your men in the journey across the board is the ability to jump over other men including your own. If you can jump over one player, you can continue in a chain for as long as you like. So, if you can jump two men in rapid succession, you can do so in the span of a single move. This opens a major range of different strategies a player can take. one strategy would be to try and spread their men out so that straggling men can suddenly jump forward to the front in a matter of a few turns. Another strategy is to try and block off possible large moves by your opponents, thus cutting off the different possibilities by your opponents and forcing them to take more moves to complete their run. A third (and somewhat evil) strategy is to place a man on one of your opponents end spaces so that it’s impossible for that player to ultimately win (though, the downside is the fact that you’ll never win either). Bear in mind, though, in an 8 player game where 7 computer players are playing, the best I’ve ever done was finish in a close 2nd (two moves short), so I could never actually employ these strategies to actually successfully win against 7 opponents. I don’t know if it is because the computer players are set to be really hard or if I just am not that skilled at this game, but in any event, I never actually finished first in this game.

One way you could cheat is to play as two human players. One player would be your actual playing player and the other human player would be your blocking player. Use your blocking player to place a man in every end portion except your first human player. This allows you to get one human player to take however many moves necessary to win with all the computer payers being forced to wait until you remove that one man that is preventing them from winning. I found this to be a rather unsatisfactory way of winning, but if you want to experience a win that requires little to no skill, this would be the way to do it. Be warned though that it’s not a very satisfying way to win.

One great thing about this game is the fact that there are stars denoting which spaces are the winning spaces for the various players. This can help when you are mid way through the game and are trying to figure out how you are stacking up against other players at any given point and devise a rough estimation of your status compared to other players.

One positive I found in this game is that this game doesn’t finish until all players have their men in the final positions on the board. This allows you to say that you finished in a certain place. Even the last player has to finish their placement before the game is finished. I actually thought it was great. You can even count up how many extra moves it took other players to finish on their end of the game. A plus for me. I just wished that the winning list actually reflected the placement instead of just making the names appear in a pre-chosen order.

There are two downsides to this game. The first downside I found to this game was that the utilization of the mouse wasn’t exactly perfect during game play. Sometimes, you click on a spot for your men to go and it doesn’t register. It seems that you have to click right at the center of the hole for it to register. Then you have to hit enter to execute the move. The second and more serious downside is that there is a glitch in the AI. Sometimes, computer players leave then men in another players space. When it’s two computer players leaving them in each others winning space, sometimes, they get stuck in an infinite loop where they move their last men back and forth waiting for the other player to remove their man. The only way to finish the game is to exit the game, otherwise, you’ll be stuck forever waiting for the two last players to finish.

Graphically, this game was OK for a game made at the time. There was actually an attempt to make people’s faces look somewhat realistic as opposed to the cartoon style that was employed in other games to overcome hardware limitations. The various characters were mediocre. It’s kind of cool that there was an attempt to add a little animation to them to spruce it up, but I can’t say they were exactly amazing either. The marbles and the title screen was well done and the board was decently done.

There’s no sound or music, so I can’t judge this game on audio merit.

Overall, this game can be a fun little distraction. It doesn’t take too long to play and it really pushes you to think how to complete the game in as few moves as possible. It’s not a mind blowing game by any stretch of the imagination, but it does provide players with something a little different to play.


Furthest point in game: 2nd place against 7 computer players.

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: N/A

Overall rating: 67%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85


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