Chessmaster has remained the consummate standard in console chess games since the '80s. In the years between then and now, the series hasn't changed all that much--and neither have the rules of chess. The Series 60 version features challenging artificial intelligence and some cool skill-building features. Multiplayer is restricted to play on the same handset, so the single-player game is the main attraction here. If you're looking to build your skills against a capable AI-driven opponent, Chessmaster will serve your needs well.
Chessmaster's difficulty level is absolutely unforgiving on the higher settings. For average players, even the beginner setting should provide a considerable challenge. The computer responds intelligently and quickly, obviously calculating probabilities many moves ahead. It's especially impressive to notice that the computer doesn't employ the same, plodding strategy throughout the game. For example, the AI may ignore your puny pawns in the early stages of the game, but toward the end--when their importance becomes paramount--the AI will actively seek them out.
If you need some extra help to combat this mobile-controlled menace, you can turn on various tips and advice settings to gain suggestions for moves. You can also have the computer highlight the pieces immediately endangered by your opponent. Probably the best advice feature, however, gives you chess opening tips by rating each piece for the number of choices moving it will open up.
In addition to its standard play modes, Chessmaster offers several ways to help improve your chess game. A quiz mode presents you with puzzles--in increasing difficulty--and gives you a score based on the time it takes you to solve them. The quiz mode teaches you mating combinations, forks, skewers, and pins, which are the moves you'll need to beat the CPU on the game's harder difficulty settings. A classic games mode lets you view dozens of famous matches, move by move, accompanied by the Chessmaster's text commentary.
Chessmaster features a no-frills presentation. Its graphics and menus are functional, and its control is very similar to that of the old NES game. Sound is wholly absent, which isn't surprising or troubling in a chess title. In all, the superficial aspects of the game are completely unremarkable, and that's just fine.
Chessmaster is a good game for anyone hoping to hone his abilities, regardless of skill level. It provides a solid chess experience and nothing more.