iPad Game Review: Shredder Chess for iPad Reviewed by ColeDaddy
Over the years, the Shredder chess program developed by Stefan Meyer-Kahlen has been the standard-bearer game playing and analysis tool for all Elo rating levels. It is generally accepted as one of the best chess programs of the world. Since 1996 Shredder has won sixteen titles as the World Computer Chess Champion making Shredder one of the most successful chess programs ever created. I've been a fan of Shredder since my days on the Palm OS and it was one of the first mobile software that I have ever purchased. While I am not a chess grandmaster by any means, I'm always on the lookout for board games which require a good measure of logical and strategic thinking. Chess is the granddaddy of them all with centuries of staying power and a beloved worldwide following.
Shredder HD is the perfect progressive iteration of this software and the wider screen real estate provides a truer boardgame experience than on the smaller, mobile screens.
With the Shredder's track record of producing some of the most difficult and challenging gameplay and puzzles, it can be a bit intimidating for a player like me, while knowledgeable in the basic movements and general strategies; admittedly I am not well-versed in the advanced strategic thinking to address the varied complexities and rich possibilities involved in the game's grammar and execution.
From the standpoint of actual gameplay, Shredder HD's engine covers a wide range of difficulty. Despite its high Elo, the engine's AI can be adjusted to include degrees of human gameplay to provide gamers with not only a challenging experience, but one that can generally reflect the gameplay of your Uncle Joe or the latest and greatest grandmaster. Shredder HD has a "Coach" setting enabling squared tabs mapping the full amount of choices available for your current turn. Additionally, any move that may prove detrimental, your Coach is there to ask you whether or not you really want to continue with the move or take it back.
However, one of my favorite aspects of the game is the Puzzle section. Shredder HD provides puzzles where your opponent AI makes a move and then you are asked what the next best step would be. You start out with 10 points which are reduced each time you submit a wrong guess. These puzzles present static challenges where you can sit and take your time trying to solve the conundrum before you. My only complaint with this is the absence of an explanation as to why solution is the optimal one. It would benefit users to know why, for example, sacrificing your Queen was the best choice, when your previous guesses that didn't require such a devastating loss were turned down.
From the standpoint of set up and appearances, there are a number of boards and pieces to choose from that should satisfy gamers looking for some flavorful eye-candy. I'm glad the developer didn't opt to use animated 3D figures like other chess apps. These attempts while cutting edge, tend to cheapen the authenticity of the game. In this case, the standard 2D look framed in modern sensibilities grounds in the historical significance of the game.
Every inch of the board is informative and instructive. "Blue arrows" analyze your current position; evaluations for your current position are displayed on a dial at the bottom of the screen and a "sun" icon shows you your current Elo rating.
The sounds are probably the "weakest" aspect of the game, but, truthfully, chess doesn't require much sound to begin with. Anything else would serve as mere distraction.
Shredder HD continues to evolve with each port and iteration. I have only touched upon the tip of the iceberg given the breadth and scope of the game. For less than $8, this game is an "Essential" app for your iPad.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Clean and informative. Classic, old school 2D stylings vaulted into 21st century skins. Sound: - 4 - There aren?t too many sound bytes associates with Chess, but the sounds it does include are subtle and satisfactory. Controls: - 5 - Intuitive and accurate. Gameplay: - 5 - Educational, entertaining and edifying. Great game replayability! Overall: - 4.75 - Shredder HD is an essential game for your iPad. Exciting and educational, this is the premiere Chess app available on the AppStore.
Playing Hints and Tips:
The Puzzles section is a good place to camp out and put in some time if you're a relative novice. Otherwise, have at it!