I suppose it was really only a matter of time, after Battle Chess, that some individual came up with this idea and had the ability and resources to make it a reality.

The name alone should give it away, especially for veterans of Battle Chess; whereas in that title, the pieces would move about the board and beat each other up when taken, in LoveChess, designed and developed by Artmunk Productions of Holland, yep, you guessed, they shag each other when they execute a capture. And it's not in any way equivalent to the cartoon violence of Battle Chess in which the pieces and porns, sorry, pawns, engage in this activity; this is full-on detailed 3D sex in an interesting variety of positions, from missionary to doggy style to reverse cowgirl and anything and everything in between. And yes, you can zoom in and view these shenanigans from all different angles for more efficient download to your W:\ drive, if you catch my drift.

Now at this point you may be thinking that, with only one piece on the board that's expressly female - the queen, that this sounds like a bit of a sausage fest. Well, not really, no. You see, in the game, the white pieces are all women, and the black pieces all men (whether this is a deliberate reference to the majority of low-budget US porn actors and their racial distribution I can't say). After all, in this enlightened age, who says that a woman can't be a knight, or that a man can't be a queen? Not I. Though this latter is a bit of a misnomer; since all the white pieces are women and all the black pieces men, this makes all the sex in the game 100% straight.

One criticism I have of the game, though, on this subject is that the pieces don't seem distinctive enough. In any chess game, be it in the flesh or on computer, the pieces should be easily recognisable. For instance, in even the most anthropomorphic and figurative of chess sets, the king and queen are the tallest pieces, and the pawns are generally the smallest. Not so here. In LoveChess, the pieces are all the same height and build, roughly; on a crowded board, this can be rather confusing. The only clue to what piece each piece is can be afforded only by the various accessories that each one holds. For instance, the pawns all have spears and shields - in the case of the white pawns, shields in the shape of vaginas, as for black, shields with bulls on them; while the queen, for both sides, wields a pair of falchions. All pieces are, of course, totally nude.

Thankfully, there's a switch which causes a symbol showing the piece in question to hover over the head of the person on the big 3D board to designate what they are, but this shouldn't have to exist; Battle Chess was playable fully without having to drop into the 2d view in order to work out what was what. Though LoveChess's little 2D board stuffed into one corner of the display is handy; it means you can zoom about the 3D board at will but make your moves on here without accidentally misclicking and putting your queen within stabbing range of a black pawn's (spam) javelin. Speaking of making moves, though, it is a bit of a cop out in that the pieces teleport from square to square, rather than walking or leaping or moving themselves. This in turn precludes some of the better shagging possibilities; I was hoping for the knight, when taking another piece, to score a hole in one, but alas, with this teleportation, it's just not happening. Though this is probably a good thing; LoveChess is aimed at being a serious erotic video game and such exploits might have distracted from its primary purpose. A cheap porno game this is not.

Graphically the game's not bad. There's two versions about, one with an Ancient Greek theme and one with an Egyptian theme. In both of these, the graphics are nicely detailed (and not just round the crotches of the pieces either!) and with sumptuous backgrounds and appropriately atmospheric background music. It does seem a wee bit on the jerky side at times, but that's probably more down to my three-year-old laptop computer with its asthmatic GPU than to the game itself. There are some nice touches, such as when you select a piece and it becomes highlighted, the piece starts quivering in some form of anticipation in whatever manner; for instance, the white rooks rub themselves up on their standards, and the queen gets out his/her falchions. That, and suchlike, helps to add to the atmosphere of the game better.

Though as regards the game's chess engine... well, Deep Blue has nothing to worry about yet. On the lower levels, I found the game incredibly stupid; I was able to consistently pull scholar's mate on it. On the higher levels, though, it seemed to get its finger out and apply the smackdown on me. This, of course, raises the question - at who is this game aimed? Evidently serious chess players aren't going to go for it; the chess engine's not strong enough and there's not enough control over different play styles. And to be frank, with a finite number of different sex scenes to go through, once you've seen most permutations of different captures, you've seen them all, really, so for the average adult video game player, this isn't really going to appeal too much. Methinks that LoveChess is probably going to find itself with the same core audience as did the endless litany of strip poker games on various 1980s computers; some randy 15 year old will probably try and persuade his older brother to order it off the official website (www.lovechess.nl) for him, and then he'll pass it round his class in school. And, much like Teenage Queen or Sam Fox Strip Poker on the Atari ST had as a side effect that most of its players, reportedly, learnt to play poker and became resident card sharks at university, LoveChess will probably persuade its core audience to practice their blitz play skills and start hustling games for money in chess caf├ęs round the place a bit later. Even if, on the Internet multiplayer mode of LoveChess it could well be a viable tactic to sacrifice pieces in certain ways if you know your opponent gets off particularly on the ensuing scene and the upshot of this, say, opens them to a particularly vicious fork or skewer. After all, in tournament play, it's generally the done thing to play one-handed anyhow!

There's one other gripe that I've encountered in my play of this game, and that's that there's no way to underpromote a pawn; it simply assumes you'll be wanting another queen. Even though 10% of the time underpromotion's kinda necessary; be it to surprise the enemy with a Knight fork, to to take a rook instead so as to avoid an embarrassing stalemate.

So, that's about it then. If you want to get your hands on this unique chess game, you can get it off the internet at www.lovechess.nl. You can also download a free demo there, but this version is limited to single-player, 15 moves apiece, and has no shagging in it. Thus, if you want to improve your porn structure for free, you may have to resort to P2P. In that case, know you that every time you masturbate to pirated porn, God kills multiple kittens, so...

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