There's a reason why people have been playing chess, checkers, and backgammon from time immemorial - they're fun. And in essence, Sierra's success with Hoyle Classic Board Games depended on translating favorite games to the computer as exactly and as completely as possible - leaving the time-honored gameplay well enough alone and adding just a few little computer-aided perks. Happily, Sierra has done just that.
Checkers, Chess, Chinese Checkers, Battle Ships, Snakes & Ladders, Yacht, Backgammon, Pachisi, Zen Bones, and Dominoes are collectively the names of the game. They're all true to their board game counterparts, but each has a little computer enhancement - your dancing animated piece in Snakes & Ladders, for example, or the very cool clear board for Battle Ships that's more fun to play on than Hasbro's official Battleship game.
All the rules are quickly and immediately accessible from a pull-down menu, which is convenient when you forget the rules for removing a stone from the middle in backgammon. Additionally, the game comes with a handy and informative little book that provides histories of each game as well as rules; if you need a little background info or always wondered if Chinese checkers really did get its start in ancient Persia (it didn't - it was Sweden), you can just check the book and find out.
You have a number of options to increase your playing pleasure, including changing the music (options include fall, detective, and Eastern among others), the background texture, and the shape of the shadow that represents you (the jester was particularly appealing). And best of all, you control the level of chattiness of the 12 other players, who include an annoying lawyer doing his best Mr. Howell imitation, a sweet grandmotherly old lady who'll metaphorically skewer you with her knitting needles if you present her with the opportunity, as well as the more unusual alien twins and Gax, who alternately metamorphoses his green face into Elvis and Marilyn Monroe (Boop-boop-bi-do, baby).
Each AI player has three settings - beginner, intermediate, and expert. The problem was that changing the level of difficulty sometimes didn't seem to do much. I lost at chess no matter what level I was on (I'm admittedly a terrible, horrible player) and won easily at Chinese checkers on each level. Backgammon had subtle shades of changing intensity, as did pachisi, which made them significantly more fun - and as for games like Yacht and Snakes & Ladders, how much skill is really involved anyway?
All in all, the games were faithful to their tangible counterparts - and often as addictive. And since you're launched into a new game each time the old one ends, you may find saying "Just one more game" to be way too easy.