There are games that, looking at them in perspective, I did not devote all the attention that I should. Among the many games I had for the Atari Lynx there was the mythical Chip’s Challenge, but I hardly dedicated a couple of games to it, preferring other games from that Lynx, such as Gates of Zendocon The Todd’s Adventures in Slime World.
It is not a laptop that I keep today and the truth is that I do not regret it either: first, because it had few exclusives that were worthwhile; second, because Evercade is rescuing some of their games; and third, because the own Chuck Sommerville, creador de Chip’s Challenge, gave away this classic on Steam a few months ago. And it’s still free, too, to commemorate its 30th anniversary. For this reason, we believe that it is a good time to review it.
Extreme minimalism for a great puzzle game
What Chip’s Challenge it didn’t win me over when I first played it on Atari Lynx, it was mainly the fault of a unappealing aesthetics
The name of the game also gave us a clue to our objective: yes, the chip challenge. Because to complete a phase, except for honorable exceptions, you had to gather all the chips (or a certain number of them, depending on the level) that was on the screen to unlock the motherboard that gave us access to the portal.
Its protagonist, called Nerdy Chip McCallahan (Chip for friends), had two simple movements: move horizontally or vertically, and move a series of objects. Now, he could unlock some specific skill for a level, such as obtaining spiked boots to avoid slipping on the ice. Or also fire retardant boots to avoid burning yourself and boots with which you do not sink into the water …
Chuck Sommerville surprised at the time due to the obscene amount of levels with which it was released in Atari Lynx, with a total of 149 phases. But above all because of the incredible variety of challenges that were in all of them, by not following a single pattern. In fact, there were phases in which it was not necessary to collect chips, but to go through a convoluted maze fighting against the clock, or to watch the steps to the maximum between so much cheating with (or without) a time limit. A constant challenge
Chip’s Challenge, a very serious puzzle
His appearance was also deceiving. The first ten phases were a simple trial of what was to come, since the difficulty was in crescendo by leaps and bounds and any mistake was paid dearly by having to restart the level. Losing a life and Chip himself saying “bummer” to show his disappointment was the least of it. The worst thing was realizing that you had placed a stone wrong.
As you could not grab objects, but only push them, you had to be very careful with this type of stones, because they not only served to draw improvised bridges over the water, but also to cause explosions in bombs. It was a game where everything had to be planned to the limit, but also with a certain component of trial and error with its traps, with some pretty bloody ones.
Yes, Chuck Sommerville also played with our patience and photographic memory with rocks that hid fire underneath (instant death) or invisible walls, among other niceties. And if we add to this that many phases had a time limit and many objectives to meet (the chips, of course, used to be scattered enough to do a lot of laps), we had the party set up.
Sometimes we could decide the order, but the way to solve each puzzle had only one solution. And to add insult to injury, there were certain enemies that were chasing us, being the mouths with teeth (so Joker) the most representative of Chip’s Challenge. Curiously, the saga had to wait ten years to have a sequel, seeing its latest installment thanks to KickStarter, where it received the name of Chuck’s Challenge 3D and whose price on Steam is only 8,19 dollars.
Has it stood the test of time well?
Yes, ignoring the minimalism (somewhat ugly) of its graphic section. It was an amazing project on the part of Chuck Sommerville who knew how to make the most of the Atari Lynx lifespan, to the point of becoming one of the icons of that ill-fated laptop. Today it will not seem as ambitious or spectacular as The Witness, but without a doubt that Chip’s Challenge It was one of the video games that served to establish the great genre of puzzles, so fashionable nowadays.
|Platforms||Atari Lynx, MS-DOS, Amiga 500, Commodore 64, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC y Steam|
- The exaggerated number of phases available
- Wide variety of challenges on each level
- Get the original now for free on Steam
- Graphically it still seems very ugly
- Not the slightest mistake was overlooked