Somewhere out there we KNOW there are some really ingenious Atari Lynx game makers, creating some truly innovative gaming experiences just for the fun of it. I feel like this is one of them. 'Knight Moves' is not an officially released Atari Lynx game, but is a downloadable ROM available from the Atari Gamer website. I would classify this game as a puzzler and a strategy game, but you certainly won't find anything else like it on the Lynx. It's a short but sweet game, which is just begging for more content.
'Knight Moves' is all about one particular chess piece: the knight. You have a grid of squares, and your job is to move the knight around the squares in its traditional movement: the "L" shape motion. As you do this, the squares will turn to black. Once you have sat the knight on all squares, you have completed the game, and you are taken to a results page. This will tell you how many moves you made to clear the board, and what the actual minimum number of moves is to do this. It will suit mathematics and chess fans to a tee!
Graphics are simple, but still impressive for what they are. The title screen is nicely drawn (and the end of game image is an impressive digitized Statue of Liberty!). The main game screen, however, is simply some arranged squares and your little knight avatar. It's a cute little arrangement, and some care has obviously been taken here to make things look as functional as possible.
The sound is mostly restricted to the 'PING!' noise of moving your knight around, but admittedly there is a very cool and humorous sound effect when you do complete the game. I won't reveal that is: you can find out by yourself. It would have been really nice to have some nice digitized background music here (I've leveled the same comment at 'Fidelity: The Ultimate Chess Challenge'). And we know the Lynx can do this really effectively in puzzlers (see 'Assembloids' for proof!). Still, what we have here is simple and effective, certainly better than no sound at all.
Controls are fluid, and there is absolutely no issue with 'knighting' around the playing board. At first I thought you had to press the button on your knight and then select the square you want to move to, but the game actually will know the available squares that you can motion towards and will let that input occur after one button press. It's a nice little automated touch I wasn't expecting, and shows the cleverness behind this game (which matches the conceptual ingenuity of the game itself).
The challenge and the longevity is probably the factor that this game scores lowest on. It's not that the game isn't a challenge (it is). It's just that the game is essentially finished in 2-3 minutes, and then it's really a matter of "go back and see if you can complete the grid in less moves". I would predict many players will just move on at that point, maybe coming back to it a few days later to see if they can get a better score. However, it's certainly true to say that some players will want to persevere in order to match the mythical top score of "least moves". And I'd be one.
Truthfully, in terms of improvements, I would have loved the game to include 'Bishop Moves', 'Queen Moves', 'Pawn Moves', etc. That way, there would have been much more variety. And a series of trophies would not have gone astray. Perhaps, for example, you get to move onto 'Queen Moves' once you are under a certain threshold of 'Knight Moves' (eg. 75). A little bit more variety here and there, plus a relaxing soundtrack, would have elevated this game from "occasional fun" to "engrossing sit-down puzzle immersion".
Still, it's hard not to give credit where credit is due for 'Knight Moves'. Again we have a nicely crafted game title that is original, well presented and features a challenging objective. And if you are really into the concept presented here, you will persevere until you reach the optimum score possible. I hope one day we get to see more content added to this game, because if it was done well enough, there is potential for a classic here. But as a mini game, there's no doubting this is a fun little title, which presents a tricky premise and encourages you to achieve with it. Your move!Score Card
This review was submitted by Jon Mc from JMac Productions