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Classic Game Spotlight:
Chip's Challenge
In this issue, we pay tribute to one of the finest puzzle games of the late 1980s. Chip’s Challenge was one of the very first computer games to fuse the classic box-pushing puzzles of the Japanese Sokoban games with new twists and exciting gameplay elements. In having done so, it has become one of the great game classic that have helped inspire many modern computer puzzle games.

In Chip’s Challenge you play the part of Chip. Chip desperately wants to join the “Bit Busters”, an exclusive computer club run by the girl of his dreams, “Melinda the Mental Marvel”. In order to join, Chip has to complete a set of complex logic and action challenges spread over 148 different levels. There are mazes and monsters, force fields and fireballs, and puzzles - lots of puzzles!

The game was designed by Chuck Sommerville, who was also responsible for such classics as Gruds in Space and Epyx’s Games Series (click here for Chuck’s complete Softology). Chip’s Challenge was first released on the Atari Lynx hand held game system in 1989 and was later converted to other systems. While the Atari Lynx version is usually regarded as the “best” version, it is the PC version that is most widely known, as it was distributed as part of the "Best of Microsoft Entertainment Pack".

In the 1990s, fans of the game found each other on newsgroups and websites and formed a vibrant community that remains active to this day (click here for a web interface to the newsgroup). While there was never an official sequel to the game, fans created the 149 level CCLP2 - Chip’s Challenge Level Pack 2, as well as "TileWorld", a free game emulation of Chip’s Challenge (click here to visit the TileWorld homepage).

Finding a copy of Chip’s Challenge these days is a good challenge all in itself. A good bet is Ebay, where you can occasionally find the Atari Lynx version of Chip’s Challenge or the Microsoft Entertainment Pack (there are several of these - make sure the one you’re looking at includes Chip’s Challenge). Some online game vendors will also sell copies of the Atari Lynx version. If you’ve owned the original Lynx or other non-PC version, you may also be able to legally download and play via an emulator.

We “sat down” with designer Chuck Sommerville for a short interview on the origins of Chip’s Challenge. As Chuck is also a Wonderland player, we managed to convince him (without twisting too many arms) to create a Wonderland level just for this article. His level, “GEARS”, is a Wonderland conversion of a puzzle that would have appeared in the Chip’s Challenge sequel, if it had been published. It is a tough challenge requiring great timing. Simply click here and download the level into your Return To Wonderland (Platinum Edition) CustomLevels directory. Have fun, and a big ‘Thank You’ to Chuck!

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