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In Story Mode, The player can pick either a western or pirates theme. After selecting the theme, A three game chess tournament against the AI begins. Before each match a cut scene plays, ending with the protagonists having a task to complete, (For example, in the western theme a sheriff is trying to capture three bank robbers.) After each match is over, another cut scene plays with the protagonists either succeeding or failing the task, depending on the match's outcome. (Using the same example, either the sheriff catches a bandit, one for each match, or all of them escape.) After completing a story, a printable certificate is rewarded.
The tutorial mode teaches how to play chess, from how the different pieces can move to advanced playing techniques. The Player is taught by "The Chess King", a Lego King Minifig that talks like Elvis who supposedly commands the white army, and slightly modernizes the explanations of the pieces. For example, it is said that the reason knights can jump over other pieces is that they ride BMX Motor Bikes. The King on his throne was also a Lego set packaged with the first release of the game.
In this mode, the player can choose the difficulty of the game when playing against the AI. Multi-player can also be chosen here, or watch the computer play against itself. In addition, a third, traditional chess set (though still constructed from Lego bricks) can be chosen, and all three sets can be mixed (pirates playing against western, for example) However, capture animations are disabled when playing with mixed sets.
The rules of the game can be changed to cater to many popular variations, though the most common rules of chess are default. During a game, clicking on a piece will show the available places to move to, and if a piece is captured a short comical video plays showing the captured character being caught, with each different capture having its own movie (and they rarely have anything related to chess in the clips). Because pawns, knights, rooks, kings, queens and bishops all have separate clips for catching other pawns, knights, rooks, queens and bishops, there are 61 clips total, 30 western themed, 30 pirate themed, and a special one when you complete tutorial mode. The characters in the clips are different, depending on what side they are on, resulting in 100 separate video clips, which can be viewed in the "Scrap Book" after they have occurred in the game. The queen take rook / rook take queen cartoons are similar for both Wild West and Pirates.
This game received two awards:
Editor's Choice Award, Children's Software Revue (US)
Outstanding Award, Educate On-line (UK)
After being off the shelf for several years, The LEGO Group re-released Lego Chess with improved Windows XP compatibility at a decreased price of 9.99 US Dollars. For owners of the old version, a patch was released and is now available here.