Dec 28, 2011

Chess: Battle of the Elements

I've had a renewed interest in chess lately as I've been getting a bit tired of the EuroGames that I've been such a fan of over the past many years. Chess, the game of kings, appeals because of the pure strategy nature of the game. My problem with it has always been my lack of patience. A lack of patience when it comes to planning and plotting several moves ahead which is mandatory if I'm ever going to achieve any degree of proficiency with the game. Mix that up with a $.99 cent sale (that is still going on) by Polarbit and you've got me buying Chess: Battle of the Elements despite owning countless chess games already on a variety of devices.

The key reason I purchased this game was for the chess puzzle portion of the game. In fact, if you're looking for a chess game with superior AI then you're looking at the wrong reviewer. I can't and won't comment on CBotE because I'm just not able to take it to task. It does play chess properly though and has nice elementally themed graphics, a good UI, and will display the chess board in either 2D or 3D although I stuck with 2D as I found it difficult to differentiate between the pieces in 3D mode.

The game features many (and I mean MANY) chess puzzles and I'm working my way through them. To assist the neophyte the game will display each piece's valid moves after selecting a piece. I do wish it would show me valid moves positionwise and then somehow mark invalid moves based on moving into check just to help with learning, though, but that's a minor point. For each puzzle you have a number of moves that you can make (1 in the early going) to put the opposing king in checkmate. My one big problem with the game here was the having thought I had solved the first puzzle the game refused to let me make that move. Tap... nothing... tap... nothing. 'This is one heck of a puzzle' I thought. And then it dawned on my to try it on my phone (instead of my tablet) and it worked. So, this game isn't compatible with the Asus Transformer and I suspect probably isn't compatible with other Android 3.x tablet devices. Disappointing as I've grown accustomed to doing most of my gaming on my tablet given that I'm not a big traveler. (I also see this has been a known issue for some time so don't hold your breath waiting for a fix).

qrcodeAt $.99 this is a great little chess game for beginners. It has good built in help/rules. It even provides hints as to which piece to move in puzzle mode. Given that I'm 'new' to chess I actually got stuck on the third puzzle and, from a learning perspective, it would have been awesome if there was some basic text explanation regarding the puzzle, but that's probably asking a bit much given the quantity of puzzles. I do wish it would wait and not just snap back to the main screen upon solving a puzzle so I could review the board after working through a trial and error solution. In the third puzzle my problem was not understanding that I could move a piece to threaten the opposing king and leave it also vulnerable to said king providing that I had also protected it. Makes perfect sense now and those of you with chess experience are thinking 'duh!' in reading that, but, once again, I'm a learner. So, all in all, provided that you're not buying this for tablet use and you're not expecting to play in 3D I think I can safely recommend this chess game. 4/5 stars.

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