Game – Pure Chess (Wii U version, 3DS comments at the end)
Developer – VooFoo Studios
Publisher – Ripstone
Platforms – Wii U eShop (MSRP $7.99) and 3DS eShop (MSRP $7.99)
Rating – E for Everyone
Obtained – Download Code courtesy of Ripstone Publishing
Chess is a game that players of all ages can enjoy, but only a select few have the thought and skill to master. Over the centuries, academics have studied the game in great detail to come up with the best theories and strategies for players to use, but the sheer depth of the game makes it impossible to isolate a single approach that can be considered ‘the best’. It is because of this complexity that many consider the game to be a form of art, and Pure Chess certainly treats it with a level of polish that exemplifies this idea.
Everything about Pure Chess’s aesthetics are refined and classy. The game is gorgeous, and developer VooFoo Studios made sure to take every possible opportunity to emphasize it. While playing, the camera can be rotated and zoomed in a variety of ways so the player can see how the light dances off of each piece, customized with different materials (wood, metal, stone) and makes (Staunton, Checker, Williams). Three different locations are included with the game: a museum, library, and penthouse, with more locations and chess sets available via DLC. The game sets the mood with background music that comes in a variety of styles, including classical and jazz. The game creates a great environment that makes you feel like an intellectual while you play, even if you are doing so at a low difficulty setting.
Pure Chess offers a variety of control options and game modes. The quickest and smoothest way to play is with the GamePad as it offers touch screen support as well as off-TV play, but selections can also be made using the Pro Controller’s directional pad and face buttons. The game features a single player mode with ten difficulty settings, local multiplayer and online matches, in addition to tutorials and bonus puzzles. The tutorial teaches beginners the basics of the game, and more advanced lessons will instruct the intermediate player on various chess strategies. The additional puzzles are custom scenarios that challenge the player to checkmate the opposing king in a set number of moves. Not only is this mode intellectually stimulating, but it will also reshape how you approach your moves in real chess scenarios. Pure Chess is built to help hone the player’s chess skills regardless of their experience level, and is an excellent resource for players who want to improve their game.
The only faltering point lies in Pure Chess’s online mode. The concept behind it is great; you can play Chess with your friends and random opponents on their mobile devices, Wii Us or 3DSes. The problem is that it is excruciatingly slow. Beyond simply waiting for your opponent to make a move, there is also a considerable amount of wait time between when your friend submits their move and you receive it. The trade-off is the aforementioned multiplatform support, the ability to play up to six games at once, and being able to shut off your Wii U and return to the game later without losing your progress, though the latter might leave your opponent angry and confused due to a lack of any means of communication.
Aside from a visual downgrade, the 3DS version of Pure Chess seems to provide the exact same experience. Because the game looks so good in high definition, your best bet is to pick it up on Wii U if possible.
Final Score: 7 / 10
Pure Chess is a great way to learn, master and appreciate the game of chess in an aesthetically pleasing way, but if you’re buying it in hopes of playing with your friends online it will certainly test your patience. There are plenty of ways to play chess for free, but Pure Chess manages to pack in just enough content to warrant a purchase.
+ Gorgeous art assets and refined atmosphere
+ Many great gameplay features
+ Multiplatform online support
+ Great for improving chess skills
- Painfully slow online multiplayer