A brief intro
Chip's Challenge is a puzzle game originally developed for Epyx
in 1990, working on the principle of various tiles, items and monsters which must be avoided or retrieved in order to reach the end of each level. (I'll go into more detail later). The information in this writeup is split into trendy categories
for your convenience. If you're just skimming, there's a handy quick start vital statistics
category, just for you.
Necessary Quick Start Vital Statistics
NAME OF THE GAME:
Strategy, tiled puzzle
Lynx, C64, NES, DOS, Windows, Amiga.
Snake Byte, Chip's Challenge II
No longer being sold, but can be downloaded from the WWW.
How Chip's Challenge came about
Chuck Sommerville had always liked puzzle games, enjoying the way in which simple components could be stuck together to make a complex brainteasing patchwork. His first popular game, Snake Byte for the Apple II, followed this philosophy, consisting of just a few things (a snake, some targets, and a bunch of walls). Whilst he was working at Epyx, the Atari Lynx was released. Chuck was assigned to help the other programmers finish up their own games for the new console. Not the way great new games are made, no? So, Sommerville started making up his own game in his spare time, christening it Tile World. With the help of other cool dudes at Epyx, Chuck managed to get some artwork and music together and a level editor such that others could contribute their own levels. A group of testers tested all one hundred and forty-odd levels to make sure that they were possible and the game was ready in just 10 weeks. That's so cool I'll say it again. JUST 10 WEEKS! (But they did change the name of the game.)
The different platforms (and two different versions) of Chip's Challenge
Chip's Challenge was originally released on the Lynx. It was then ported to the Amiga, the Commodore 64, the NES (though this version wasn't released) and to the IBM (i.e. DOS and Windows).
However, when the game was ported to the DOS and Windows, the game logic was changed in a lot of ways to suit the hardware. These changes were made by Tony Garcia, who even had an extra level added to the IBM version which credited himself and the other people on the IBM team! Some of the changes were pretty dramatic, so much so that it makes sense to consider the two separate versions of the same game.
Meet Chip. Chip is a computer geek. Chip has the hots for Melinda The Mental Marvel. She is the head of her own computer club, The Bit Busters, and Chip really wants to join it. She's offered him a membership, but on one condition (the sneaky devil!). Chip must make his way through her clubhouse of 148 (or 149 levels, depending upon whatever platform you're playing). It sounds tough, and it is. After all, Melinda's clubhouse if filled with all kinds of dangerous stuff, like teeth monsters and bugs. Thankfully, the first few levels are easy, serving more as tutorials.
Yes, it is a pretty weak storyline, but it has to have one.
Overview of the levels
The first 8 levels of the game are tutorial levels, named "LESSON 1", "LESSON 2", "LESSON 3", and so on. Each level consists of a bunch of individual tiles, or squares, which can be empty space, or occupied. You start the level on one of these tiles, with other stuff on tiles, such as monsters or helpful stuff to pick up. These things include:
- Monsters may move in a deterministic predictable way, in a pseudorandom fashion, or may follow you.
- Helpful items can help you traverse bad stuff (fire boots let you cross fire, flippers let you swim through water) which might otherwise kill you.
- There are also keys (red key lets you pass through red door, etc.), and different kinds of floor (normal, dirt and gravel) which may block monsters.
- Four different kinds of wall, all of which can block you: plain wall (which blocks everything), invisible wall (plain wall, but you can't see it), blue wall (you don't know if it's wall or not until you run into it), and popup walls (you tread on it, it becomes a wall).
- There are also three very important kinds of item: chips, chip sockets, and exit tiles. Chips can be picked up. Chip sockets are effectively walls which block you UNLESS you have picked up all the chips. That's what they're there for. Exit tiles are what let you go to the next level. It's the most common way to make a level tough: scatter the chips in areas with lots of monsters, and block the exit with a chip socket so you can't just run away like a coward.
There are 148 or 149 levels (depending on what platform
you play the game), and there is a Mandelbrot set
generating hidden level on the Atari Lynx version of the game. Each level has a number (duh) and a password). Most of the levels also have a time limit, so you can't just stand around trying to figure stuff out. In a few of these levels, the time can be critical, intentionally designed to leave few seconds to spare. You can travel from one tile to another in one of the four compass direction
s, unless there's something in the way.
Scoring is fairly simple. If you complete a level on the first try, you get 500 multiplied by the level number in points. Each time you die or restart that level, 20 percent of the remaining level score is deducted, unless the level score is below 500 (If that sounds complex, just remember that each time you die, you lose some of your score for that level, but you can't lose all of it). Also, for every second you have left at the end of each level, you get an extra 10 points. You then add up your score for each level to get your total score.
What this means is that it is possible to improve your score on a level you have already completed by doing it again, faster, or by doing it first time around. There in lies the Challenge; once you've completed all 149 levels, you can then go back and hone your skills.
That's just a fancy name for the different things you might find on levels. We have:
- Fire, which kills you unless you've got the fire boots. Some monsters are killed by fire, some just bounce off it.
- Water, which kills you unless you have flippers. And most monsters foolhardy to step into it.
- Ice, which makes you lose control and keep sliding in the direction you entered it (until you slide off it) unless you have ice boots. Monsters also slide on ice.
- Force floors force you along in the direction of the arrow, though you can step sideaways off of them. If you have suction boots, they behave like normal floors. Though monsters are still affected by them.
- Gravel is normal floor, only it looks speckly and black and monsters won't tread on it. So if you stand on gravel, you're pretty much safe.
- Dirt also blocks monsters, but when you tread on it it turns into normal floor. Then the monsters can come after you.
- Walls can be solid, filling an entire tile with an impenetrable black cube, or can just block off a tile from one direction.
- Blue walls might be real, might be not. No way to tell until you run into it.
- Popup walls spring up when you tread on them, turning into wall when you walk onto them. But you can walk off the top of walls you've made, so that's OK. Usually used to make one-way passages.
- Coloured doors are walls which disappear into floor if you have the right key and walk into them.
- Bomb blows up whatever moves into it. Bombs doesn't move so all you have to do is avoid them.
- Clone machines clone whatever object is on top of them when their red button(s) is pushed by you, a monster, or an object. The item on top of the clone machine doesn't actually move off it, though.
- Bear traps hold anything inside them still, unless a brown button is pushed or held down, in which case they are effectively normal floor.
- Teleports will zap you to another teleport when you tread on them. (The way this happens is governed by strict rules, though due to their sheer nature teleports can be used to make really fucked up levels).
- Toggle walls either start as wall or floor. When a green button is pressed, a toggle wall which is currently floor becomes a wall, and vice versa. Hence, toggle wall.
- Blue buttons cause moving tanks to turn round and move the other way.
- Hint buttons show a small hint if you tread on 'em. Time keeps ticking while you read.
- Burglar tiles, or spies will steal your neat footwear (fire boots, suction shoes, etc.) if you tread on them.
- Computer Chips are what you need to collect all of so that you can pass through a chip socket.
- Keys let you go through doors of the same colour.
- Boots let you go through bad stuff. Fire boots for fire, suction boots for force floors, ice skates for ice, and flippers for water.
- Blocks are big things made of dirt which block your way. They can, however, be pushed (but not pulled) into water to make a dirt floor.
- Chip sockets can only be passed through if enough chips have been collected.
- The exit takes you to the next level when you tread on it.
With all the monsters, you die if you touch them. Yeah, that does make it more difficult. They don't just bounce off walls, though, they can also bounce off each other.
- Tanks move in just one direction, unless a blue button is pressed, in which case they turn around and go the other way.
- Balls go in a set direction until they hit something. Then they bounce and go the other way.
- Gliders will go in a set direction until they hit something, in which case they turn left. They can go through water.
- Fireballs go in a straight line until they hit something, in which case they turn right. They can go through fire (but water quenches them).
- Walkers go in a straight line until they hit something, in which case they go in a random direction.
- Bugs march around the perimeter of a cluster of objects; they hug the wall with their left side. If there's nothing to stick to they just go round in an eternal loop, constantly turning left.
- Paramecia march around the perimeter of a cluster of objects; they hug the wall with their right side. If there's nothing to hug to they just go round and round.
- Blobs pick a random direction to move in. This makes them unpredictable, but they can only go half as fast as you.
- Teeth home in on you, but they don't do it very intelligently, and they only go at half your speed.
Don't worry if that seems like a lot; once you start playing, the info digs into your brain and you'll never forget it.
The loyal fans of the game
There is a slowly growing community of Chip's Challenge fans, most of which hang out at a newsgroup. You can access it from:
- news://news.annexcafe.com/annexcafe.chips.challenge or
- http://www.prostar.d2g.com/newsportal/ (which lets you reach it from your browser)
Some of the fans are content to just play around with the game now and then; others are motivated to find newer ways of doing the levels and beating old time records. Some are on the Quest For Six Million points, but the closest any have come so far is around 5.98 million points. The fans have also made a good few nice utilities for Chip's Challenge
. If you need help with Chip's Challenge, they're the people to turn to, since they've produced maps, screenshot
s and even an emulator
to help you with the game.
Why you should play this game
You should play this game because it will teach you the joys of problem solving and perseverance. You will become determined to beat all the levels, and will want to make your own! This game is fun and addictive, and it gives you that better-than-sex high when you finally complete one of the really tough levels. It's also quick to download and fairly easy to set up.
Getting The Game
The game could originally be purchased with other games in the Microsoft Best of Windows Entertainment Pack. The other way to get it was to get it bundled with your PC. Since it isn't possible to get it in either of those ways any more, you can only download it from the Internet. Here's some websites. If these don't help, try a search on Google.
The contents of this writeup are in the public domain.