Review: Chess Ultra (Nintendo Switch)
Most everyone knows chess – it’s been played for hundreds of years. Chess Ultra brings the classic game to Nintendo Switch, offering proven fun but in a very uneven package.
Chess Ultra includes interactive tutorials to get you started if you’re new to the game. But even with 10 levels of difficulty (and the option to see legal moves), the overall challenge is geared more towards those with chess experience in my opinion. Curiously the end-game defaults to you replaying the final moves.
With words like “stunning”, “breathtaking”, and “beautiful”, hopes are set high for the game’s visuals. The presentation is fine, but isn’t going to wow you. It is just chess after all – no need to try and oversell the graphics. You can pick from a few different locales and piece types, but I wish more attention was given to the camera views. The three on offer do not provide ideal angles. Chess Ultra’s accompanying soundtrack is largely very good with just a few duds, only losing points by not allowing the player to pick individual tracks.
Chess Ultra is online fixated. So much so, that it’s borderline unplayable if you are away from a strong internet connection. While facing the computer away from home, I’ve had matches pause at length for simple things such as pawn promotion. Matches have also frozen outright, making me close and restart the game. Battery-draining interruptions of no connection being found, and efforts to select a network, are consistently popping up. If you are thinking of playing this game away from your television, expect some headaches. To top it off, finding a human opponent to play online isn’t easy.
The most prominent icon on the main menu is “Chess Ultra”. This is for future DLC – nothing is available at present. I really hope that future updates also include a much-needed patch to make the game more stable, which is much more important than online tournaments for example. I’d enjoy seeing more challenges added as well.
Chess Ultra is fun, but there is clearly room for improvement. I’m giving it the mildest of recommendations, but only if you are a chess enthusiast with no plans of playing the game in portable mode. The game has a ways to go before living up to its Ultra moniker.