View Full Version : My Chessmaster DS review

10-25-2007, 10:04 AM
The following is just a copy of my review I put on Amazon.com:

I've been looking forward to a decent chess game for the DS since I picked it up last year, so I picked this game up on its release day.

The chess game on clubhouse games, even on "hard" is very weak. I can beat it without even paying attention, and I'm no where's near an expert level player.

Anyway, without boring everyone to tears, here's the PRO and CON list:


* You can have four profiles. Great to have for the kids.
* It has a very strong, and in my opinion, realistic engine.
* You can set up positions for playing against the computer.
* Save game is very useful if others are using the game.
* Can play someone else on a single card (see below for gripe though)
* Movement is so much nicer with a stylus, but the Direction pad
is also an option. You can either drag a piece to its destination,
or you can touch the destination. You also have a choice to confirm
your move to avoid "mouse slips".
* The mini games, like "Fork the Fruit", are actually very good drills.
* Nicely themed chess puzzles too.


* False advertising. "Players have access to 900 of the most important chess games, which are analyzed to provide key tactics", uh no, there are NO games. This and other features mentioned on the chessmaster site, are not here. They must be for the PC version.
* No online play. Are you kidding me?!
* No ability to set it for two human players on one DS. This seems
like a "way too obvious" feature. I'm truly baffled as to why it's
not on here.
* You can only set up a position to play the computer. That, and the
fact that I can't set the clock to one players advantage, makes it
difficult to have a challenging/fair game with my daughters
* You can't set the clock to add time per move (Fischer Clock)
* Pieces are a bit odd looking, but tolerable.
* "Help" shows a play button, that, while reviewing a game, would let
you play from the current position. It's just not there though.
* The puzzles, though nicely themed, are all one move. Also, I was
having a lot of trouble with one, and had to ask for the answer.
Turns out I was supposed to be playing white from the flip side of the
board. However, it still showed the flip side as being the 8th rank.

Ok, that's a lot of "CONS", and the first three really annoy me. I was so looking forward to having 900 games to go through without sitting at the computer, or setting up a board.

This does give you a great portable chess engine to have a game anywhere you might be. Also, doing all the puzzles repeatedly, and going through the mini games, will give you a fair skillset to destroy the average non-serious player.

10-25-2007, 12:54 PM
Hey - -thanks for the review! I was wondering what people thought of it. I hate to say this (for Ubisoft's sake), but the Cons you listed are pretty strong, and I wonder if the lack of wi-fi capability will seriously affect sales. In Ubisoft's most recent press release here (http://www.ubi.com/US/News/Info.aspx?nId=4923), it even says "Players can battle each other using the wireless option on the DS" -- what??? I am sure *they* meant the in-the-same-room wireless feature, but you know eveyone thinks Wi-Fi over the Internet. Bummer. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif

10-25-2007, 02:12 PM
thanks for the review... it's really disappointing that ubi didn't put some more polish into this game. some of those cons are definite deal breakers http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif

10-25-2007, 04:14 PM
First let me say that I have CM X and I do like it. I thought the training part of it was well put together for the most part. For beginners CM X is a great product. For those that are more advanced stick with Fritz.

I purchased the DS version of CM XI and am not impressed. Visually the board and pieces are very poor and no wi-fi is a total bust. The chess engine is pretty good but that's about it.

Save your money.

10-25-2007, 04:20 PM
Well, I don't know what the box says, but the access to 900 important games is a feature of the PC (not DS) version.

The info I saw on the said nothing about online play -- just multiplayer, or "on-one-one play using Nintendo DS wireless play" -- no false advertising, but definitely very ambiguous...

As I prefer PC, I can't speak on anything else, but from the screenshots I've seen so far, the graphics for the DS are rather, well, elementary...

10-25-2007, 04:53 PM
The PC version will probably have everything. The graphics, features and engine. I don't see why they wanted to do a mediocre job with the DS version though. Maybe they just wanted a little extra money. But that's not a nice thing to say.

10-25-2007, 05:11 PM
I was able to try out the game. Minigames, puzzles and training bits aside, this game is actually an inferior product to the GameBoy advance Chessmaster (which can also be played on the DS). For one thing, the GBA version allows you to change the board and pieces, gives you the option of playing human vs human, and includes 150 classic games to analyze. I was looking forward to CM for the DS, and I would snatch it up in an instant were it not for the fact that I already have the GBA version. The DS version doesn't have enough improvements over the GBA for me to warrant adding it to my collection.

12-31-2007, 04:13 PM
Excellent review and very accurate based on my personal experience with the DS version. One con that was not mentioned is this: When I played someone (in the same room) with Wi-Fi, the game completely removed the board when I made the checkmate and posted that I had won the game! Neither me or my opponent could even view the game's final position - nor can the game be reviewed as it can in the single player mode. UGGHH!!!!! Terrible design!!!

02-03-2008, 08:39 AM
My experience with Chessmaster DS is on the border.

I originally wasn't into Chess although I knew how to play. For christmas I got a DS and Chessmaster game soon followed - thought it would be fun to play once in a while.

Instead, I found myself playing it all the time. Chess is just addicting, and the DS makes it so easy and portable to play.

So it's good in the fact that it does work as a Chess game and can be addicting to newcomers (at least me). However, when the computer kept beating me and I wanted to improve my game, I started learning how much the DS version lacked.

I did the tutorials, which I thought might teach me something new. They really just cover your very, very basics (such as rules like en passant and castling) and are not in-depth at all.

Last week I decided to buy Chessmaster XI for PC since I heard it was way better. It DEFINITELY has more features and the learning section is 1000 times better than the DS. Changing the Chess board makes sense and I like to ocassionally on the PC version. The DS lacks this from what I can tell, and the board they use is super basic. It would have been nice if they included some boards to unlock or something like that (similar to some of the boards on the PC version that you unlock). The DS graphics may not be as strong, but I'm sure the DS could support better.

Overall, as a learning tool, the DS version is horrible. But for casual play (by yourself of course since no wifi) then it's good. It really depends on what you are looking to do with Chess.