Chess Ultra

The game of kings is available on the Nintendo Switch in the form of Chess Ultra. An aptly named title, as it is among the most comprehensive packages the illustrious game on a console. From beginner to veteran, what's on offer here will apply to the whole spectrum. Do not fear about being a novice, Chess Ultra has got you covered in more than one fashion and make those doubts a thing of the past.

In principle, chess is a turn-based strategy board game that involves capturing the opposing side's king. There's an in-depth tutorial that demonstrates the game and a variety of challenges to help put those lessons into good practice. You can create single play games, with the option to involve a second player in local coop or take your chances online. A tournament mode is also available, however, it requires the internet as well.

Setting up a game allows customisation. They're few in number but there's a delicate balance of flash and substance. You can choose one of four gorgeously detailed and atmospheric 3D environments, what style pieces are used and even the material they're made out of. Those choices really help create some immersive games, that you can overlook the fact it's all being played on a console.

Graphics are rich in detail, the audio is excellently designed to complement each setting where the game is played. For instance, there's a cave that has a rather foreboding vibe, this can be enhanced further by incorporating the fire & brimstone chess pieces made from sterling tar. It's extremely hard to fault this attention to detail.

Gameplay-wise, there are guides available to display available maneuvers. These can of course be toned down. A total of ten difficulty options are selectable, between novice and master. From testing various, the AI does appear to be a far representation. More often than not, I've stumbled upon other chess based video games that fail to measure difficulty correctly. It's frustrating when an easy option is harder than portrayed and disappointing when a supposed challenging level comes up significantly short.

The main critique that may deter some players is that there's a strong embedded link to the online features. For those who do not have an online membership, a message frequently pops up asking to subscribe, so you can experience the multiplayer features. This may be partly due to the game constantly wanting to update the stats you've accumulated offline with those online. Despite this, there should be no excuse that a game should harass a player to pay for something they may not wish to purchase.

Whether you play docked or in handheld mode, Chess Ultra runs absolutely smoothly on the Nintendo Switch. It seems only natural to have this game portable, to take and challenge friends and family with. To anyone who may be interested and perhaps a little doubtful, as stated further above, this is both a game and a vital learning tool. It is a great way to see your confidence building and still packs plenty of push left to give the most experienced enthusiasts a run for their money.

As far as chess games go, this gets a solid five out of five.

Daniel Barker