Jul 1, 2011

Solitaire Chess

by Bill Schoonmaker

I'm sure many of you know how to play chess. You probably know how the pieces move and you might even know a few opening moves but how often do you really get to sit down and practice? With Solitaire Chess by ThinkFun you will have a world of practice right on your phone. Solitaire Chess is not your average chess game. Instead, think of individual chess puzzles that you must solve using the pieces. Now cross this with that classic peg removal game where you jump until only one peg remains and you will begin to see the goal of this game. There are two versions, a free version that has 40 levels for you to play, 10 at each difficultly level or for the ultimate challenge the full version which contains 400 levels with 100 at each difficulty.

The game takes up a minimal amount of space and it can even be moved to the SD card if you're needing the room on your internal storage. Once you have the game installed and run it you'll be presented with two main options, either Quick Play or Challenges. Quick Play takes you the most recent puzzle that you haven't completed. Challenge mode lets you select any of the 400 puzzles that you would like to play. So let's talk about the actual puzzles by giving you an example. The very first puzzle, on easy mode presents you with a 4x4 chess grid. On it are 3 pieces, a rook and two pawns. It is your job to make any legal move with any piece and only leave one of them. Since this one is easy I'll give it away, just make two legal capture moves with the pawn and you win. As the puzzles progress they get harder and harder. An example of one of the harder puzzles would include that same 4x4 grid but with 8 pieces instead of 3. This takes the complexity way up and really makes you think.

What's great about this title is that it is really polished. The developers spent time making what could have been a poor port of a physical board game into something that people will keep going back to until they've completed all of the puzzles. It's quick to bring up and quick to jump into your last game. Options abound include Music and Sound Effects and the ability to clear out your progress so far if you want to wipe all of it out. You can also take a tutorial or see information about the game. Little touches also include Home and Close buttons on most of the screens. How many times have you been in a game and not known how to get back to the main menu? While in any particular level, the game also has buttons for Resetting the board, Undoing your last move and getting a hint. If you do take a hint it is only the next move which is great that it doesn't solve the entire puzzle for you. Which would probably ruin it. Taking a hint and finishing the puzzle will also leave you with a check mark on the selection screen that lets you know you didn't complete the puzzle without any help.

qrcodeSo go ahead and grab the trial. The 40 puzzles will keep you busy for a while, but for the real challenge purchase the full title and spend hours puzzling over the solutions. So far I've completed all of the Easy challenges (which weren't so easy) and made my way through the first 10 or so on each of the subsequent levels. I can say without a doubt that the hard levels are very difficult but also very rewarding when you do figure them out. I'm not so sure that this would better your chess skills but it will keep you entertained and can be a quick diversion that takes some skill if you need it. ThinkFun has done a great job with this title and I look forward to their next Android offering. This title easily gets a 4 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. You raise a lot of questions in my head; you wrote an excellent post, but this post is also mind provoking, and I will have to think about it a bit more; I will return soon.