"Microsoft Classic Board Games" is a board game video game. It was first released in 2000 as a PC CD-ROM title by Microsoft Game Studios. In the United States, the game received an age guidance rating of "E" which deemed it suitable for all ages. Its system requirements are minimal but include:
Processor: Intel Pentium at 90 MHZ
Memory: 16 MB
Sound Card: Recommended
Graphics: SVGA Compatible Display
Bar a few exemplary racing video games, Microsoft have usually dealt with the more standard card and board games for the personal computer with mixed success. Almost all release candidates of the Microsoft Windows operating system include a handful of video games but these are often minimalistic and not the most engaging of titles. These games may be functional in their execution but they don't reach me in terms of visuals and sound effects. Classic Board Games aims to correct this by offering a graphical frontend to twelve popular board games.
This title includes 4-in-a-line, backgammon, checkers, chess, Chinese chess, Chinese checkers, dominoes, go, reversi, gomuku, taipei, and shogi as playable games. Each are accessed from an initial menu loading screen where players may adjust the difficulty settings between easy, medium and hard. Once in the game those familiar with the gameplay rules would find themselves quickly interacting with the title due to the simple point and click execution of actions; such as moving a pawn in chess. Those unaware of how to play a set game may access the included help files which allows the player to read through a brief tutorial regarding basic rules of play. One aspect I found particularly useful is the presence of a legal move indicator. In most titles, this is shown by highlighting various points on the game board where a player may move a certain piece. Because of this I was able to adequately participate in each included game without the need to read through additional documentation.
The graphics are presented from a top down perspective which focuses on the game in play. Each title features a beech wood style gaming board which is accented by varying shades of a solid colour in the background. Each background is different to the title and usually reflects the game board in play; such as a copper red background to harmonize with the red and black accents of a checkers board. The gaming board and its pieces are traditional to what one may expect out of the games and I was able to identify different bits, such as chess pieces, with ease. The sound effects to the game are likewise appropriate but are restricted to simple movement and dice rolling noises when necessary. The game also features simple musical scores accompanying play but I found these became too repetitive for my liking due to the often lengthy gameplay experiences.
Classic Board Games offers me a simple games compendium presented through an easy to use interface. It is certainly not the most visually pleasing video game, but it is functional and adheres to what I had anticipated prior to installing the software. I would happily recommend it to prospective buyers.