For $10, you might wonder what you get with Gameloft’s Chess Classics that you don’t with other, less expensive iPhone games. The answer is, quite a bit. Chess Classics doesn’t just give you chess, but it also provides a fun backgammon game. You also get loads of capabilities and options, mini-games and challenges. Unfortunately, the interface doesn’t work that well and the graphics leave something to be desired, too.
The classic board games of chess and backgammon are well-represented here, both with 2-D and 3-D graphics options and several different themes to choose from (themes change the color and composition of the board and pieces). When you’ve turned on the 3-D graphics, you can also adjust camera control to spin or rotate the board and change the angle. It’s a neat effect that shows off the iPhone’s graphics processing capabilities, but it really doesn’t benefit you at all.
You can compete against a friend (on the same iPhone or iPod touch) in a two-player mode, and play past tournament games in a Classic mode.
The game makes good use of the multi-touch interface – you can click on and drag pieces around—but I found that I often had to repeatedly drag pieces to where I wanted them to go to get them to the right place. Sure, I can magnify the board a bit in 3-D mode and do it that way, but I found that the graphics in 3-D mode looked poor close up—pixilated and chunky, and they didn’t scale at all.
The addition of backgammon is a great diversion, and it increases the value of Chess Classics dramatically. It features many of the same capabilities and extras that you’ll find in Chess Classics, including a two-player mode and different challenges that help you test your skill.
Chess Classics is compatible with any iPhone or iPod touch running the iPhone 2.0 software update.
[Peter Cohen is Macworld’s Game Room columnist.]