99 Games, the creators of the critically acclaimed Wordulous and WordsWorth, recently released a chess app that is said to deliver a beautiful chess engine along with some online features. Of course, there are so many other chess apps in the App Store that it’s hard to offer something new or advertise a new twist to the game of chess. Chess is chess, and there’s nothing you can do about it. There aren’t any game modes you can add or online highscores; chess is simply chess.
Chess Engine: Like advertised, the chess engine is wonderfully implemented in this game. I really liked the fact that you can modify the AI to be either quick or difficult, which is basically easy or hard. You can modify it with pinpoint accuracy, and technically, there are over 30 or 40 difficulty levels. Although I haven’t tried the strong side of the engine, I’m assuming it’s extremely difficult as it is advertised as the strongest chess engine in the App Store.
Backgrounds: Most chess games include different backgrounds or themes to choose from, and Chess Elite is no different. It comes with around 15 backgrounds, each one either a different theme or color. The variety of backgrounds is something that isn’t present in other chess games (or the other ones I’ve tried), and I enjoyed them.
Replay: This game saves every single game you have ever played. Whether it’s still in progress or finished, the game saves it. Of course, if you’re worried about memory, you can always delete them. Once you finish a game, you are able to view it and see all you moves. If you lost, you can see why or how you lost and improve from there. The replay feature is something that I haven’t noticed in any other chess game, and it should be a useful tool for professionals.
Online: I’m sure most of you are used to online chess if you’ve played Chess With Friends. The online feature here is a little different; it lets you send challenges to the people on your contacts list or play against a stranger who just happens to own the game. Once you challenge someone, they must accept your challenge and start the game. Although I haven’t quite got the chance to play online, it’s definitely a feature that makes this game different from the rest. Smooth play is all I ask.
User Interface: It’s a nice chess app with some nice backgrounds, but user interface is, for lack of a better word, ugly. Sure it’s green and button design is nice, but the including of the iPhone/iPod Touch status bar and misaligned font makes the interface look unattractive and just plain ugly. Some screens don’t even scroll down all the way, and just the general interface is something I didn’t quite enjoy.
Wrong Grid: Sometimes, I would clearly tap a grid, and the piece would land in a different square. Of course, you can undo your turn and redo your move, but this does get frustrating at times. I understand that the iPhone screen is hard to work with in terms of accuracy and touching space, but I have never encountered this problem with any other chess app.
Incomplete Sound Effects: I found the game’s sound effects to be incomplete. Some types of buttons would produce a sound while others don’t. Your chess pieces seem to produce a sound, but other buttons like “Create New Game” and “Help” would produce no audible sound at all. This somewhat bothered the sound balance of the game, and 99 Games should add sounds for those buttons in future updates.
Expensive: If you really found a $0.99 chess game in the App Store too easy, then your last hope would be this. Compared to its competition, Chess Elite is expensive for what you get. I’m sure the game is more appealing to professionals or serious chess players, but for the average, casual chess player, alternatives are enough to satisfy. Other than the chess engine, I cannot find a reason why the game costs significantly more than its competition.
Chess Elite is a great chess app with some great backgrounds to customize your chess game with, but the price and user interface doesn’t make this chess game stand out from the rest. It’s just another chess game and just another online game with no significantly different features, and for $3.99, it’s bound to only appeal to the professionals. If you’re craving for a challenge, then this chess game is definitely worth a look but otherwise, look for cheaper alternatives. Casual chess players will find this game to offer little or nothing different from the other chess apps.