Rook's Revenge Review

by: Kris Keilhack
September 22. 2006

Plot and Game Options
It’s still standard chess, just with the turn-by-turn gameplay removed. From the initial Pawn movement, winning in Rook’s Revenge is mostly due to luck and speed and only partially due to chess skill.

Rook's RevengeRook’s Revenge is unfortunately a single player-only affair. Three difficulty levels can be selected upon startup. I have found Easy mode to be incredibly simple so I start on Hard level every time I play the game. I can usually last about five or six rounds into in this difficulty setting before the CPU opponent becomes too fast and ruthless.

In less time than it would take to play a round of Chessmaster (forcing moves on the CPU the entire time) on my PC I can breeze through numerous sessions of Rook’s. Great stuff, especially when you want something other than Bejeweled to play during a quick break at work or on the train. There is no menu option to force a move by the CPU in Rooks’ and by no means will you ever find yourself missing this option.

Gameplay Strategies
As a general tactic, I usually do a rapid deployment of all of my pawns upon match’s commencement. Standard chess strategies of forming defensive alignments can be completely tossed out the window here. In the higher difficulty levels I’ve found myself completely leaving my King exposed and defenseless, knowing that if my luck holds out a few seconds longer I can probably use a couple of Queens to capture the CPU’s King. Standard chess rules would never permit such reckless abandon!

There is no option for conventional turn-based chess gameplay in Rook’s, so chess aficionados need to keep a copy of PocketChess or ChessGenius for their traditional fix.

In an odd and unalterable twist, the game’s captured piece regeneration function cannot be disabled. I feel that utilizing this feature gives action-oriented gamers too much of an advantage against the computer. If Astraware ever updates the title I’d like to see this feature either disabled in the Hard difficulty level or a menu option assigned for toggling this on and off.

Graphics & Sound
Rook’s Revenge came out shortly after Palm released the original Tungsten T in October 2002. So the simple fact that it has 320*320 color graphics and digitized audio is amazing. I’ve played this game on every OS 5 Palm device I’ve owned and it always looks good, even on a smaller Treo or Zire screen. Players are given the choice between three styles of board graphics and three types of pieces. The sound can also be toggled off or switched between high and low volumes. Sound effects are sparse and unsurprisingly static-filled but they are serviceable. This is not a game that depends heavily on audio/visual effects but again, what is present does suffice.

Control & Misc
Rook's RevengeRook’s Revenge is entirely stylus-driven. I noticed no lag or slow response to my stylus taps even during heated gameplay. Short of Warfare Inc., I cannot think of a better way to wear down the digitizer on a Palm device.

The game’s few menus are clearly and logically laid out. It runs on all devices running Palm OS 3.0 or newer. I have played this title on every OS 5.x unit I have owned, including my current TX and 700P, and I’ve never encountered any troubles. The game is completely stable in its “current” (from November 2002!) 1.001 version. Rook’s Revenge occupies a mere 265k of space and can be launched from external storage.

Quite simply, a nearly perfect game for impatient chess fans like myself! I have basically zero complaints with this game. Rook’s Revenge takes the time-honored mechanics of traditional chess and simply unleashes everything at a frantic pace.

While a few “modern” technical updates would be appreciated (320*480 support, additional piece and board graphics, multiplayer over BT and IR etc) the actual gameplay is flawless. I cannot recommend this title enough; especially for those who have always felt traditional chess needed an arse kick in the speed department.

My overall rating:    5/5 - Palm Software 5 / 5

Rooks’ Revenge is currently available from Astraware for Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices for the astounding low price of $4.95.

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