Friday, November 3

Review: Chess Ultra [ Nintendo Switch eShop ]

Before getting rolling I’ll openly admit that though I find the game of chess to be interesting on an intellectual level I’ve always been a bit of a disaster at it. Whether blaming it on my ADHD tendencies or on my lack of deep interest in becoming steeped in the various strategies that govern successful play, I’ve just never amounted to much in playing it. If ever there were an opportunity for me to not only become a little bit more engaged in the game but also be given the tools for potential success Chess Ultra represents it.

We’ll start with what’s great about the package for novices like myself. Starting out with the game’s 36 mini tutorials you’ll get not only the lowdown on the movement and basic strategies for all of the pieces on the board, you’ll also get information on standard opening tactics, information on how to manage your middlegame, and also how to try to finish things off. It wasn’t just being thrown into a situation either, the progression of each tutorial roughly builds on what was before and I walked away from the experience feeling like I’d learned far more in about 20 minutes than in a lifetime of randomly picking things up from other people or games.

Even if you’re not a complete novice the Challenge modes will be sure to get you thinking and refining your strategic game. With a combination of what are essentially chess puzzles that will require you to play to checkmate from 1 to 7 moves out as well as 12 actual closes from legendary historic chess matches. These all serve as a sort of graduate level study of chess to help you work on improving the strength of your closing game which may be the most difficult piece of the puzzle against skilled opponents.

In that vein when you’re ready to play a full-on game Chess Ultra has your hookup. Aside from being able to play against a savvy AI computer that can be tuned down to a lowly novice and all the way up through supposed Grandmaster you can try to build your confidence as well as you skills without risking too much embarrassment. If you’re in the mood for some human competition that’s where your options really open up though. Aside from being able to play against someone locally you can also face off against either a friend or random people on the internet (including support for cross-platform play) for a single match or even in a tournament structure if you’re daring. What I like best, though, are the timer options which allow for anything from glacial pacing, best for people to play a move at a time at their leisure or in Burst Mode where the loser is whoever gets Checkmate against them or uses more than 5 total minutes of time to think over their moves. This sort of variety should allow for the game to adapt well not only to people’s availability but also preference in style of play. That’s all on top of the various options you’d expect for changing your style of pieces and virtual environment to play in.

From top to bottom Chess Ultra is a complete package and perfect for anyone who either loves or would like to develop a greater appreciation for chess. Not merely giving you an excellent presentation for playing matches, but also providing for a multitude of ways to play by yourself or others, it really checks probably all possible boxes for you getting a good game rolling. When you then pile on the excellent tutorials and challenges that will help you improve and refine your overall game there really isn’t much more that you could ask for if you have an interest in this classic board game.

Score: 8.5

  • Excellent tutorial and challenge modes that have something to teach people of all skill levels
  • A wide variety of options not just for who you can play against but also how the games will be played
  • Clean presentation with a variety of aesthetic options for you to suit your tastes

  • If you’re not thrilled by chess regardless of the package this isn’t likely to change your view substantially
  • Playing against random people over the internet doesn’t always make for the best results, though no fault of the game itself
  • Though it may be lowbrow of me I couldn’t help but hope for a classic Battle Chess style mode

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