Parents' Guide to

Really Bad Chess+

By Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Interesting take on classic strategy, but not for newcomers.

Game Apple Arcade 2021
Really Bad Chess+ Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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You have to give Zach Gage credit for trying something different -- especially with an age-old strategy classic like chess -- but it's not entirely a "must-play" game. Really Bad Chess+ is a fun and fresh take on the classic chess, which should especially be enjoyable for those who've played for years, since all the pieces are randomized at the start of the game. Some may say this is a radical departure, but since the moves are the same, it's not like you need to learn new rules. So, for those who know how to play chess, this is a refreshing new way to start each game -- but no other learning curve is needed. Plus, there are several modes to indulge in, global challenges, and retro graphics with customizable colors. It's easy to play (especially with a fingertip on an iPhone or iPad), and there are no annoying ads to sit through.

On the flipside, you need to know the rules of chess in order to play, and the game doesn't teach you. That's right: no tutorial mode that walks the player through how to play the game! Instead, if you tap that you don't know how to play chess, you're directed to a website ( to learn the basic mechanics and then asked to return to play. This is a huge disappointment. Secondly, while there are a few different modes, it's mostly against the AI, unless you have a friend beside you, but there's no online multiplayer option. In today's day and age, especially with a basic turn-based game like chess, this is a glaring omission. Negatives aside, it can be fun to play Really Bad Chess+, even if it means learning the rules and tackling the artificial intelligence -- initially without much success. Kudos to Zach Gage's spin on the classic game, but it's really only ideal for those familiar with chess.

Game Details

  • Platform: Apple Arcade
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: Zach Gage
  • Release date: April 22, 2021
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Topics: STEM
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
  • Last updated: May 26, 2021

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