WiiWare | Board Game | Digital Leisure | 1 Player | 2 Players (local/online multiplayer) | 500 Nintendo Points
It's about time online chess came to WiiWare, don't you think? Digital Leisure is proud to be the first developer to pull it off and for the most part, it's pretty decent. You can play on your own against a computer, alternate with a friend, use Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to face people from around the world, and you can take advantage of WiiConnect24 to have long-distance battles. Lots of settings you can adjust, as well. Players can change such things as the appearance of the chess pieces, the in-game clock, and the background itself.
Chess Challenge! can be played in either 3D or 2D view. In 3D, you'll use the B Button and drag your cursor around the screen to adjust the camera, to ready yourself for playing the game. With the Display Mode set to 'On', selecting a piece (by holding the A Button) will cause surrounding squares to light up, telling you where you can move. When pieces get taken out of play, a sound effect will play, and they will get pushed off to the side of the table you're playing on. Standard rules in chess are included here, and you have the ability to pull off advanced moves as well such as Castling. There are a couple options that seem to be missing though, such as the ability to show the last move that was made. If anything, this forces you to play close attention to the game but since other chess games feature this ability, it may be missed by some players. 2D view works the same way as the first, except that your background looks a lot nicer, and you don't have the ability to see which pieces have been taken out of play.
On your own, it's a great way to test your skills, especially since the computer can be very challenging. But of course, chess is more fun when you play with another person, and there are multiple ways of doing just that. The online mode works great from what I've seen so far, and I haven't noticed any lag from my games (not like it matters in a game like this anyway). While you're waiting for a match to appear, you can practice against a bot off to the side. When you're actually playing a match, you have the ability to change your Mii's facial expressions, just like in Texas Hold'em Tournament. So there is some interaction there, but of course, some will long for text or even voice chat abilities as the games stretch on. Defeating opponents adds points to your ELO rating and helps you climb up the leaderboards when compared with the rest of the world. Naturally, unlike in Texas Hold'em Tournament, performing well is only for bragging rights and doesn't let you unlock any new features or accessories for your Mii.
So far, my thoughts on the game are fairly positive. There are some issues that I have with it, but that'll be covered in my upcoming review of both the WiiWare and the DSiWare version. Stay tuned for a full review coming soon to Wiiloveit.com!