Really Bad Chess+
By Marc Saltzman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Interesting take on classic strategy, but not for newcomers.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
A new spin on the classic game of chess. No messages baked into it (directly or indirectly).
Ease of Play
Aims to be appealing even for novice players, but you need some knowledge of how to play chess. In fact, it provides a link to learn how to play on a website, and then asks that you come back to play.
Products & Purchases
Based on 2016's Really Bad Chess.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Really Bad Chess+ is a board game available exclusively on Apple Arcade. The game is a new spin on the classic strategy game, with rules similar to those in the game of chess. The biggest difference here is that players start with random pieces on the board. This is an updated take on 2016's Really Bad Chess app. There isn't any inappropriate content for parents to be concerned about with this game. Plus, since it's an Apple Arcade title, there are no in-game purchases allowed (microtransactions) and no advertisements.
Where to Play
Videos and Photos
Really Bad Chess+
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What’s It About?
REALLY BAD CHESS+ answers a significant question in its gameplay: How do you take a centuries-old game and make it fresh? Answer: By randomizing the play pieces. Every time you start a new game, you'll have random pieces, such as two Pawn, two Rook, two Knight, five Bishop, two Queen, and one King. While this will throw off longtime chess players, the classic rules remain the same -- the pieces and the moves are the same -- but it's the randomized pieces that change up how the board looks off the top and your opening play. Kings, for example, still move one square in any direction (as long as that square is not attacked by a rival piece), while Queens move diagonally, horizontally, or vertically any number of squares. The game offers several modes: a Daily Board (against the AI), Weekly Challenge (a unique but tougher board each week, but unlike the Daily Board, you get as many tries as you want, and everyone in the world gets the same board each week), Ranked mode (where you're given a numerical score based on your success), Freeplay (ideal for training against boards of any difficulty up to what you've reached in Ranked mode), and a one-to-one game (to play against someone beside you). It should be noted that Really Bad Chess+ is based on Really Bad Chess, Zach Gage's game that originally debuted in 2016. Really Bad Chess+ is now part of Apple Arcade, the $4.99-per-month subscription service that's free of any in-game advertisements or in-game purchases.
Is It Any Good?
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 (Chess.com) 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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about changing up beloved and classic games like chess. Is it a good idea to keep things fresh years -- even centuries -- after a game first debuted? Or should these time-tested games remain the same, without messing with the formula?
Will games like Really Bad Chess+ tempt novice users to give it a spin, with its cheeky and fresh approach? Or will it further confuse newbies since it's not the same as the classic game? Should the game designers build in a tutorial instead of asking the player to go to a website and learn how to play first?
- 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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