Chess is one of those games that, software development-wise, can only get so good… no matter what platform you’re playing on, chess is chess and the game doesn’t change much. This means that what separates great chess games from average chess games is in the Bells & Whistles department, and Chess Pro totally rules in that area. Chess Lite not so much, but that’s why it’s called Lite and costs 1/4 of the Pro pricetag.
99Games went all out on Chess Pro and it shows. It comes with two different 3D-ish boards, wood and metallic, and if the 3D view is just too hot for you to handle there’s the option of going with the same 2D view that’s found in Chess Lite.
Like any good chess game there are varying difficulty levels and the Easy mode is so easy that even *I* can beat it! It’s almost like the Easy computer player wants you to win. I can’t really speak to whether or not the Medium and Hard levels are sufficiently Medium and Hard… all I can say is they kicked my amateur ass… but you won’t see the computer making the same suicidal moves that you’re treated to in Easy mode.
Chess Pro is also equipped with options galore… choose to play as White or Black, play in Two Player mode vs. another human, watch the computer play with itself… I mean… against itself in Demo mode, and you can also get hints on possible moves during the game if you’re hopelessly screwed.
Unfortunately neither of these apps is equipped to teach a complete novice how to play the game, but by default both Pro and Lite will show the legal moves that each piece can make when you select them in the heat of battle. It’s not exactly a clinic, but it’s definitely a good start for those who want to learn how to play the game.
The thing I like most is that Chess Pro (but not Chess Lite) includes two chess variants: Suicide and Losers. In these games the object is to lose your pieces before the other player does! Sweet, definitely my kinda game.
In terms of value, Chess Lite is pretty frakkin’ lite and I’d probably be inclined to try out one of the many free chess apps that are out there before laying down my buck. The board is nothing to get excited about and it doesn’t offer multiple difficulty levels. It does show legal moves and it allows two-player mode but that’s about all it has going for it.
However… if you’re a total chess nerd and have posters of Bobby Fischer on your bedroom wall, Chess Pro is easily worth $3.99! It has all the features you’d expect in a premium app, the chess boards and pieces will win just about any beauty contest, and the Suicide and Loser variants are awesome bonuses for when you get tired of chasing kings. In other words, if you’re going to pay for a chess app you can’t go wrong with this one.