The team over at Mentor Interactive seems
to take the name of its company quite literally. They have this line of games called thinkSMART,
and they’re kind of like a modern version of those Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium
titles. You down with MECC? Yeah, you know…Odell
Lake. But you know, those games actually taught
you something valuable. Like Number Munchers and Path Tactics—those games legitimately
helped your math skills. The Oregon Trail, of course, taught my entire generation that
if you ever get dysentery, you’re pretty much ****. That was the essence of education. But teaching kids how to play chess? I mean…can’t I just caulk the wagon and
skip this part? This is Chess For Kids…a Nintendo DS game
in Mentor’s thinkSMART line. And you know, if your kid’s got science, math and existentialism
down but has a real hard time with chess, this is the answer to your prayers. Although,
I’ve gotta to tell you…I think there are more efficient ways of teaching a child to
play chess. Chess For Kids tells the story of two student
gangs that hate each other. Finally, the tensions boil over and they decide to handle their
differences…by organizing a chess tournament. That’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard.
At least kill one of them off with some incurable disease or make me hunt ox or something. This story mode is essentially just a long,
step-by-step chess tutorial, only without the chess. It’s a series of 12 minigames
that, in theory, are designed to teach kids the basic concepts of chess. But in practice…come
on, there’s got to be a better way to teach the movement of the rook than a basketball
minigame. This doesn’t even make sense. In addition to that, you can also play a single
chess game against the computer or a friend. The problem is…this is supposed to be a
chess game for kids who don’t even know how to play, yet the AI is pretty brutal even
on the easiest setting. So it’s like, teaching chess by beating your ass. And giving you
strange minigames. This is the worst teacher ever. You’d get
fired for that in real life. I guess Chess For Kids is okay, but if you
want to teach your kids chess, wouldn’t you want to just play actual chess with them?
I mean, unless they’re little brats, in which case…yeah, go with Chess For Kids.
Sometimes it takes a little tough love.