Review: Chess Solitaire
It might not look like much, but Chess Solitaire is a nice little puzzler that I'm enjoying. If you can get over the very basic presentation, you'll find something you can easily dip into when you need a distraction from the rest of the world.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
The first thing to realise is that, while this isn't chess, you do need to have a passing knowledge of the basic rules to understand how all the pieces move - you'll have rooks, knights, bishops, kings and queens to deal with here (in short, everything but the pawns). You also start with a smaller board - a 4x4 here, as opposed to a full chess board at 8x8 - but you will come across more board shapes, both regular and irregular, as you work through the levels. You'll even reach the full size board in time.
You also don't have any tricky chess stuff to do (such as two moves to achieve checkmate); your goal is to move one type of piece into the target squares. When you start each puzzle, the pieces to move will be the black pieces, while every other piece will be white. You need to move the black pieces, which will all be the same type of piece, to the highlighted squares to solve the puzzle.
Every square will be occupied by a piece, except one blank square, much like the sliding "15" puzzles where you need to slide tiles to get them in the right order. Moving the pieces is a matter of tapping the one piece you want to move into the single gap. It's simple and works, and leaves no opportunity for confusion. Neither do you need to slide your finger through the whole move, just a tap will do.
I also like that the puzzles will use different pieces on different levels. Sometimes you'll be jumping knights around, other times it will be moving rooks into the target squares. This constant variation of your goal keeps Chess Solitaire feeing fresh and always challenging.
Presentation is not the strong point of Chess Solitaire. SKKV Software needs to have a look at other titles which have basic puzzle ideas but actually have a UI that pulls people in and keeps them interested (such as Blocked In, reviewed here). The presentation does make a difference, and Chess Solitaire is a strong enough idea that I want to see it do better and feel better to the new user. The ability to change the board colours, piece design and background is nice, but a bit more TLC needs to be spent on all of these areas. This is a good game, but is really let down in the looks department.
So there you go. Chess Solitaire is a nice little snack for your leisure time. It's inoffensive, feels unique, works well given the environment of a smartphone, and while it won't win any awards, it's very much appreciated and is an important part of the Windows Phone ecosystem. More titles like this from the ranks of the hobby developers are very much welcome.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at