Gigachess Review - Checkmate!
- Platform: PC
- Players: 1
- Achievements: Yes
- Steam Trading Cards: Yes
- Controller Support : Yes, Full
- Retail Price: $3.99
High Level Premise: Tower Defense with chess pieces
Graphics/Style: Has a very dark and spooky 8-bit Nintendo look to it.
Music/Soundtrack: Only loops one song, but it's amazingly atmospheric and fits the presentation nicely.
Story: None to speak of.
Replay-ability: Fair, but not amazingly high. Fans of chess looking for a different experience will get more out of it than others.
Time Commitment: Endless mode games tend to take me 5-7 minutes on average. Puzzles are rather short, and can just take a minute or so.
Value: $4 for a novel take on the tower defense genre is good value. It probably won't rise to all-time favorites level, but it will be a game you'll revisit occasionally.
Favorite Element: The tension ramps up on this game in an extremely satisfying manner.
I am not a chess fan. I know how to play, and I'm actually not half bad when I concentrate at it. I used to play in my high school's chess club even. However, as a hobby board gamer today, I find the experience of playing chess too dry, too controlled, too boring. I do have a soft spot, however, for games that take a look at chess from a different angle. Gigachess is sort of one of those games.
Gigachess has 2 modes of play: Endless and Puzzle. In Endless Mode, players choose a combination of exactly 4 (but not more than 2 of any one kind) rooks, bishops, and knights. Once selected, the pawn onslaught begins. From the top of the screen, a formation of pawns begins moving down the screen. On your turn, you get to move each of your pieces once. After that, the pawns advance 1 space just like in regular chess. Also, just like in regular chess, their pawns capture at a diagonal...so be careful where you end your turn!
A new wave of pawns will form on screen every few turns, whther you have defeated all the previous ones or not. At times some of the pawns get the ability to march two spaces a turn instead of just one. I hate those pawns. The game does give you a little bit of help in the form of SP points, which can allow you to build blockades or even respawn destroyed pieces. It just takes especially good play in order to gain those points. Most of my Endless Mode games have taken under 10 minutes...the onslaught just gets to be too much, especially when you are down a piece of two.
Puzzle Mode works just like those "Rush Hour" style games where you are given a scenario, and have a "Par" number of turns to finish the puzzle. My only real complaint here is that the puzzles seem way too hard. I have yet to beat the second puzzle. I feel like I've tried every trick in the book. but I just haven't found a way to catch everything yet. Very frustrating, but once I get it I'm sure I'll both be thrilled, and feel like an idiot for not getting it sooner. Luckily, it gives you access to 7-8 puzzles at the start...but most of this batch stumped me as well.
The presentation of Gigachess is very nice. There's not much to say about the controls except that they work perfectly. The graphics are done in the very popular "8-bit retro" style. The graphics are much cleaner than some of those other games which just look sloppy. You can tell they took the time to make sure this was reminiscent of old games, but still looked good for today's audience. I appreciate the nice touch of highlighting where a piece can move. This definitely helps novices have fun with the game as well. I have to give the music person high marks. Even though the one in-game song is repetitive...it sounds great. There's a really cool echo effect that makes it feel like you're playing this game in a cavernous hall.
Gigachess actually manages to breathe a little bit of life back in the tower defense genre. There's a definite Tetris vibe in Gigachess. I don't think it's quite as addictive as Tetris, but the presentation (especially the music) and the endless array of slowly dropping pieces will definitely make you feel a bit of nostalgia. Well worth a look.