You might find it surprising that Nintendo went out and found a competition-standard chess program to build its budget-price Touch Generations chess game on. I didn't. What I found surprising was that it built the game around the loop chess engine, which came a pathetic third in the 2007 Amsterdam ICGA Tournament. What's wrong, Nintendo? Rybka's UCI chess engine a bit too expensive for you? I thought you played to win these days?
What I also found surprising - and a bit disappointing - is that you can't put your Miis into Wii Chess, or customise chess sets in any way. A puzzling oversight given all the money they saved only getting the third-best chess engine in the world to power the computer players. My carefully staged plans for a Eurogamer chess set with me as king, Ellie as queen and Bertie as the bishop behind a row of Dans who put the screenshots up are now useless.
Slightly less surprising is that you don't actually control the game by standing up waving the Wiimote around. In fact, the pointer isn't used at all. You control the game one-handed, selecting pieces with the A button and moving them with the d-pad. Pressing B when you're holding a piece cancels the move, and pressing B at other times brings up a menu allowing you to quit, give up, receive a hint, cancel the last move, save your game and so on. When you highlight a piece, the game also shows you its potential movements (although you can turn this off).