Magnus Kingdom of Chess

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Magnus Kingdom of Chess App Poster Image
Clever puzzler introduces kids to chess concepts.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

The slow introduction of chess pieces and the ramp-up of difficulty over time help kids learn chess without feeling overwhelmed by learning all of the rules of the game at once.

Ease of Play

Could use a stronger overview of chess from the beginning, as well as help if kids get stuck with puzzles.

Violence & Scariness

The game focuses largely on conquering other pieces, including "battle" sections. Pieces capture other pieces marked by sword icons, but there's no blood or actual fighting.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Magnus Kingdom of Chess is a puzzle-style experience from Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen that slowly introduces kids to the concepts of chess. It doesn't start with much of an introduction, and help is hard to find, so younger kids may need an adult nearby to assist with puzzles and the overall concept. Kids who have had a basic introduction to chess, the pieces, and the ways they all move will have an easier time diving straight in. There's some "fighting" in the sense that pieces capture other pieces, and some of the battles require capturing animals. Sensitive kids may be bothered by this, but with little visual violence, most will not. Kids' pieces can be captured, but they don't "die," so it just means they need to try again with a new strategy. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Starting with a brief animated story intro, MAGNUS KINGDOM OF CHESS leads kids into an adventure starring a set of chess pieces. Leading off with the King, kids begin to explore the kingdom, collecting gold coins and conquering foes. Over time, they unlock more and more pieces, each of whom can only move according to their specific rules. Kids can choose which piece to use at any point throughout most of the game, although occasionally they are locked into a specific choice. Although there is typically a direct path through each of the scenes, kids will unlock plenty of goodies if they explore throughout the area. Collectibles include cards with more information about chess and fun costumes for the chess pieces. Kids will also need to find other items, such as keys, food, etc., to unlock gates or trade with in-game characters. As they move through the experience, kids will have to enter into battle to continue. These scenes involve working around or capturing other chess pieces in order to reach a prize. Kids will also bump into Magnus himself throughout the journey. Over time, kids will need to make better use of the moves of individual characters in order to get past obstacles and battle scenes. There's no losing move. Kids who lose their pieces simply try again. For little ones, there's an option to turn on a set of path arrows for guidance. Although they do help overall, they may lead kids to miss exploring important areas of the map. 

Is it any good?

This game has a way of drawing kids in and teaching them about chess and its pieces without them even realizing it. Magnus Kingdom of Chess is a bit silly, often challenging, and quite clever. An overall introduction to chess would be a welcome addition early on, as would an explanation that each piece has its own rules for movement. The experiential learning nature of the game will work for some curious kids, as well as those with some chess knowledge, but other kids may find themselves confused and lost about what is going on. While the activities are certainly friendly enough for younger ones, the strategy required to solve some of the battle scenes may be too complex for them to handle. Since there's little help involved, they may do best waiting until they are a bit older, or at least having an adult by their side. Some kids will easily understand what's being asked and how to solve the puzzles. There are a few questionable design choices: Paying for objects with a large number of coins can take a long time as they fly across the screen in a stream, rather than just quickly depositing. There are also animations during the battle sequences that don't allow kids to quickly make their next move. And navigating one block at a time around the environment sometimes feels tedious. But those are small complaints in an otherwise fun and educational experience. Kids with the patience required for a game of chess will enjoy the way the puzzles ramp up in complexity over time, as well as the satisfaction when they finally figure it out. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about chess. What are the basic rules for chess? What are some strategies for playing that also carry over into Magnus Kingdom of Chess?

  • Families can talk about learning with apps. Do you think this is a good app for learning? Why or why not? What can you learn? 

App details

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For kids who love board games and strategy

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