Shogi (PlayStation Minis) Review – Exotic Chess

Shogi is Japanese Chess. It bears some resemblance to regular chess, as both games apparently evolved from a common ancestor about 1500 years ago.

Basically, the board is slightly larger (9×9 instead of 8×8), the pieces are slightly different (only one rook and bishop and no queen, but a few new pieces, including two types of general and the lance). You can also put pieces you have captured back into play on your side. The latter makes it a much more complicated game than chess.

This is very difficult for me to review because I honestly have no idea how to play Shogi. I’m familiar with (but not very good at) chess, and I have to say, playing this makes me feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone or at least Shelbyville. It’s both familiar but not familiar at the same time. You are shown where you can move each piece, so it’s at least playable.

Because of a number of factors (how the promotion of pieces work, and the ability to deploy captured pieces most notably), I guess fancy stylized pieces don’t work. Instead, you have little wedge-shaped slabs, each with a letter on it, denoting what it is. And because it’s meant for two players, you see your opponents with the letters upside down.  (Note the screenshot I used is of the Japanese version, it uses English letters in the North American version)

There doesn’t appear to be any options at all, other than a number of players (one or two). A difficulty option would have been very nice for one player mode, because I constantly lose after only about a dozen moves. I really have no time to get my bearings, boom, either the computer’s rook or bishop has blasted through my front line and is wreaking havoc.

It would also have been very nice to have the option for the single player game to rotate the screen back to normal. It’s awkward using the left trigger to select, because at least for me, I hold it in my left hand and there isn’t a finger near it. I suppose if you are left handed and hold it in your right, you can select with your pinkie.

You can thankfully suspend a game and resume it later.  While all the games I played lasted only a few minutes (with me losing), I imagine with another person of equal skill, it could be a while, because of how you can replace pieces.

To my knowledge, there are no other Shogi games on the PSP, at least in the West. So if you want to play Shogi on the PSP, well, here you go.  If you want something different than the normal Western board game, it’s also worth a look. At least if you have the patience to deal with holding the PSP oddly and getting beaten by the AI while trying to figure out what’s going on. Otherwise, pass, there are better options and better values for classic board games on the PSP.

Categorized as Reviews

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *