A sense of achievement in games is something that you generally want to get. As a beginner to Chess, not knowing how to play, Chess Ultra really gave me that sense of achievement when I won my first match.
Being that Chess is such a classic game I was well overdue for giving it a try, but I would need someone to explain the many rules of the game to me. I was hoping that Chess Ultra would solve this issue for me and teach me the ropes, and it did. One of the several icons on the main menu of Chess Ultra is a Tutorials section, and I played through every single one of the thirty-six tutorials you can go through. They range from the very basics, and learning about every single chess piece, to the harder things such as tactics at the beginning, middle and end of the game.
This Tutorial Section is so important. It makes this game the perfect beginning for those people that want to start playing Chess. Within a few days of getting the game in my hands, I knew all the basics. I learned a lot of things about the game of Chess. A week ago, I had no clue how to play Chess, and this little eShop game has taught me pretty much everything I need to know.
Another awesome thing about Chess Ultra is the price. No this isn’t like having a real Chess board in front of you, but for £10, the is the perfect game for a beginner. Instead of having to buy a chess set, and then have someone teach you how to play, you can simply download your own little portable Chess game right on to your Switch. This makes it so much easier than having to carry around a Chess set, and a guide on top of that. Chess Ultra does not put physical figures in front of you, but for one, it’s easier, and cheaper as well.
Let’s get on to the bulk of the game now by starting with the Single Player experience. After learning the rules, I jumped right in at Novice, the first stage of the multiple levels versus the computer. As I had only just learnt the basics, the computer made light work of me and cruised past me. It took me several attempts before I finally claimed that first win, and as I said at the beginning, it genuinely felt like I was making progress from playing Chess Ultra.
These Computer levels range all the way from Novice, to Grandmaster, with 8 stages in between. This large selection of different difficulty levels allows players to enjoy themselves no matter what experience they have. Personally, I’ll probably never even get up to Grandmaster difficulty, but what does that matter if I’m comfortable playing Novice and Apprentice.
One awesome thing for the better players is the vast selection of Challenges. Historic Mode allows you to play through classic games from the world of chess, and also gives you an idea of the background of Chess, which is a nice touch. Then, you can play through goals to Checkmate the King, ranging from one to seven moves to do so. This is perfect for the experts, as the Computer automatically has the pieces set in a difficult place. I attempted two of these, one Historic, and a Mate in One, and let’s just say it’s not one for the beginners like me.
Experienced players may also like to challenge themselves against real, worldwide opponents. The ELO Rating that each player gets in the game is used to organize online matches to where you are placed against similarly ranked players. When I first saw the Online mode, I gave props to the developers for including it. After playing a few games against the Computer I tried out the Online mode. Sadly, every time I have attempted to connect, or even find a player, the game hasn’t managed to find anyone or any sort of connection with the player has been lost. Whilst it looks nice with online modes being there, it doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t work. Yes, to be fair, there is probably a small player base, but the online system needs some adjusting. Currently online matchmaking does not work for me which is dreadful, to put it simply.
There is also a Tournament mode included in online matchmaking, which means that unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to play it. What I noticed though is that you have to play in tournaments against a recently played opponent, as opposed to anyone online. There are many reasons as to why this is a terrible set up. Tournament mode is a really good idea, but it was not executed properly. A Single Player Tournament against different AI would seem ideal due to the online issues.
Although, if you have friends with a Nintendo Switch, you can connect with them and play a tournament with that way. This is a neat addition for any title on the Switch platform. Chess Ultra also supports split screen so you can take your Switch anywhere and just pass over a Joy-Con to a friend, and you can have a decent game of Chess together. This is one of the many reasons why the Switch is a great system for games like Chess Ultra.
Another thing Chess Ultra utilizes is the touch screen controls. Apart from pausing and stopping the game, you don’t have to use the controllers at all. The simple and efficient touch screen controls make it a lot easier to play in portable mode. You can literally just use the Switch as an iPad for a bit whilst playing.
Something that isn’t vital to a game, but helps enforce the mood, is the music. Chess Ultra uses a diverse selection of music from opera, to classical, and even a modern sort of composition with a harder drum beat. The music really helps calm the mood down, which is perfect for a game of Chess.
Chess Ultra is a really impressive game, for the price tag. The different Computer modes are excellent, and you can tell that Ripstone have put a lot of thought in to what they included in the small title. All the different types of figures are well made, and there is plenty of content to keep players busy. There is certainly a let down in the Online mode, which also knocks Tournament mode. Also, experts may not find the game as good as a Beginner would, but I enjoyed this title. Chess Ultra, for £10, is a game worth picking up if you’re new to Chess, and you should definitely consider getting it for your Switch.