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iPhone Game Review – Chess Pro

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Are you trying to take out the master of your local chess club? Are you looking to get better at chess so that you can get back at the kid in the local park? Are you interested in perfecting your strategy at one of the greatest games of all time? Are you interested in learning how to play chess from your iPhone or iPod Touch? If so, then the new game from 99Games is perfect for you.

Chess Pro is a new game which is basically a chess simulator on your iPhone. Playing either against the AI or against your best friend, you can play this classic game of strategy with ease and have fun. Using an advanced GNU chess engine, the game presents you with a very intelligent AI which should challenge even the best of players. Chess Pro costs $3.99, but, if you want to give it a test run, you can get Chess Lite for only $.99.

Hey look, a movie.
I would like to note that this video is not mine. The hints look at a long term strategy, which the maker of the movie does not seem to understand.

Pros
Chess Pro has several nice features that differentiate it from the vast majority of chess games on the iPhone and iPod Touch. The interface, which is nicely put together, and looks sweet, is one of the pluses. Navigation is smooth, and the application reacts perfectly to your every whim. While there is a little problem with moving your pieces, the game play normally is quite smooth. Yes, like the movie, I really liked the demo as well. It was smooth, and quite entertaining to see the traps as they were set up (without them being used against me). Developer 99Games seems to have spent a lot of time working on the actual interface to make sure that the game is polished, and they succeeded in their goal.

Another nice feature about Chess Pro is the actual game itself. The GNU Sjeng Chess Engine is absolutely amazing. While it is technically rated up 2750, it seemed as though it topped out at about 2000 on the hardest level. That, however, gave me a huge fight as I attempted to beat it. The AI on the expert levels is exceptionally smart, and it plans for the long term strategy. This, to me, is highly important in any chess game as it ensures a life-like player, instead of the normal AI. The hints that are given also work the same way, that is, they are more long-term then short-term. It is obvious that the EXPERT level of Chess Pro was designed to challenge you as though you were playing a real person.

Cons
While the touch controls in Chess Pro worked quite well, there were some problems with the accuracy of my piece movement. With the size of my giant fingers, it was hard to specify exactly where I wanted each and every move, and sometimes it was difficult to select the right unit. This caused me to use the undo button a lot (it works great!). I hope that they are able to figure out a fix to this soon because all of the other interface and touch controls run perfectly.

Another minor flaw in Chess Pro is the fact that the AI gets repetitive and unchallenging on the easier levels. While I understand that the AI should get easier, it becomes way too easy. After playing a few times on the easy level, I was able to predict almost perfectly what the AI was planning on doing and how it would respond to what I did. This caused the game to be boring, as the AI was too pre-programmed. The biggest issue was that the AI would open the exact same way every time, which, of course, is a bad way to play chess. To show an example, I gave this to one of my friends who had never played chess before; within 30 minutes, he was able to tell me exactly what the AI was planning on doing. On the expert level, however, the AI was human-like and changed its mannerisms, which made the game much more interesting and fun.

Overall
Chess Pro is one of the better chess games that is currently out for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The game has nice graphics, a perfectly-built interface, and easy to use controls. The expert level AI is almost human-like and should be good competition to any non-master out there. However, it does lack some of the specific controls that I want (due to my large hands) and it does have an AI problem at the lower levels. Overall, the game feels polished and like a finished product. The only thing holding Chess Pro back from a 5-star rating is the fact that the easy levels are just too obvious, even to a novice.


The game is currently only available on the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

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About Robert M. Barga

  • Mohan

    can chess pro level with fritz chess

  • Richard

    Why am I not surprised that Apple would have a miniature chess game on their Iphones. I must confess I still enjoy a great long game over a cheese and wine with a beautifully crafted handmade set and a good friend. What more can you ask for?