Hey, it’s chess. Well, that pretty much sums it up… just kidding. The Art of Learning doesn’t stray far from any other Chessmaster title in the past 15 years. Attend the virtual academy and learn the necessities (the board, the pieces, how they move and advanced tactics) or jump right in and challenge opponents in a ranked game. The Art of Learning contains all the staple elements one would look for in a chess game. With chess puzzles and minigames to sharpen your skills, the academy to guide you and computer opponents (each more difficult than the last) this is everything that we could predict from a game such as this.
Being the most difficult chess program ever, this has become less of a game and more of a tool for education. Learning the game of chess involves time and being patient, a couple virtues people tend to be short on. Fun and simple minigames (fork my fruit, masterpiece and chain reaction) are designed to simultaneously entertain, build skill and sharpen perception of patterns. These minigames remove players from the sometimes stale turn taking of a normal game and allows them to enjoy specific elements of chess, whether it is finding ways to attack a variety of colorful fruit or uncovering pieces of a portrait.
If the idea of check and mate is old, tap into a wireless connection and try one of the different styles of multiplayer games. Games like Progressive Chess, where opponents gain moves each turn, and Dark Chess, in which your opponent’s pieces are invisible unless under attack put a nice spin on the game. Oddly enough, there is also a mode of play called Losing Chess in which the objective is to lose pieces. Sadly, there aren’t many people playing this game online; too busy with something a little more trigger happy probably. Even worse, these options are made available only through the multi-player menu. It would be nice if we could play against the computer using these alternate modes.
Being a hand-held title, The Art of Learning provides all the essentials that a tethered console or PC version does, making for more flexible gaming. If you're looking for some simple on-the-go chess, or want to brush up on your game, this is a pretty tight package. Just don’t expect to do well against the seemingly impossible programmed computer opponents.
Feb 27, 2008