Back in olden times, otherwise known as the 1980s, magical things happened, the birth of the founders of this here website for one, but in 1989 a game came along for the Atari Lynx that would not only prove popular but also lead to a 25 year long dilemma for its sequel. The game was Chip’s Challenge and now finally after more than two decades its sequel has seen the light of day.
Developer: Niffler Ltd.
Publisher: Niffler Ltd., Nkidu Games Inc.
Reviewed on: Windows PC
Release Date: Out Now
While Hollywood are quite happy to make sequels for decades-old movies (see Star Wars for example) it’s rare to see the same thing happen to the video game industry, in fact this isn’t exactly what’s happened here, it’s far more complicated.
Back when the Berlin Wall was crumbling, creator Chuck Sommerville released the original Chip’s Challenge. That game turned out to be a huge success, having been ported to the Amiga, C64 and even PC, and so Chuck began work on a sequel, a sequel which he took two years to perfect. Happy with the results he was ready to publish, then someone threw a spanner in the works.
Chuck discovered that the trademark had been sold off, and the new owners wanted him to cover the cost of packaging and publishing the game, with only physical copies available at the time this turned out to be prohibitively expensive for our hard working developer.
“When I couldn’t release Chip’s Challenge 2, it hit me really hard. Not only had I spent two years perfecting it, I also felt I’d let down the fans,” Sommerville said. “I generally thought the only way Chip’s Challenge 2 was ever going to see the light of day was by having my wife leak it on the net on my death.”
Fast forward 25 years and following a five-year negotiation with the trademark holders, the long long long awaited sequel, aptly named Chip’s Challenge 2, has finally seen the light of day along with a re-release of the original thanks to Steam.
The original game follows titular nerd Chip McCallahan, a man with two simple goals – join the Bit Busters computer club and win the heart of the woman of his dreams, Melinda the Mental Marvel. To achieve these goals, he must solve a total of 144 challenging maze-like puzzles, survive the monsters, traps and beat the time limit.
Playing from a birdseye view the player controls Chip and using a basic four arrow key control system navigates the character around each maze. The concept is simple, but the difficulty level increases significantly over the course of the game with obstacles including giant ants, fire-balls and locked doors. The basic and yet challenging gameplay made Chip’s Challenge a highly popular game in its day.
It’s fair to say that the large majority of the fans of the original now have children of their own. I’m one of them, I remember playing this game on the Commodore 64 before I’d hit double digits and having played through the new version on Steam, it plays the same, it’s just has difficult to complete and I’m still a massive fan of the game. The biggest bonus with the re-release is that the developer has taken the time to modernize a few areas.
The Steam release now supports trading cards, achievements, the Steam Workshop, and game saves, the original had a level code system rather than actually saving progress you simply entered a code, retrieved on completing a level, to start the game where you finished.
So 25 years later and in the real world the nerds rule, the perfect time for our nerdy hero Chip to return. Having won the heart of Melinda and become a member of the computer club, Chip is back in Chip’s Challenge 2. Now a new challenge has been issued by the International Brain Game Club. As the two best Bit Busters, Chip and Melinda have a new set of levels to beat together.
Now a new challenge has been issued by the International Brain Game Club. As the two best Bit Busters, Chip and Melinda have a new set of levels to beat together.
The core of the game is very much the same as the original but with a few new advances. The first of which is the addition of Melinda as a playable character, while this is a nice touch it’s the 200 new levels that make this game a must-have for fans of Chip’s Challenge. Much like the original, the difficulty level increases exponentially but to ensure that tedium never sets in, the sequel includes just short of 80 new game elements, abilities and monsters.
In addition to the new puzzles Chip’s Challenge also fulfills a dream that many of the original fans will no doubt share, a level editor. Using the editor you can create you own maze of puzzles and share them through Steam, this gives the game an extra level of playability and ensures that once you purchase the game you’re never likely to get bored of it easily.
The appeal for this game isn’t the graphics, let’s remember that despite the 21st Century release date, this is a game of the early 90s, the graphical elements are antiquated to say the least. Chip’s Challenge 2, however, has something that will appeal to a great many players, simplistic controls with a serious challenge that requires some brain power.
Those of us who remember the original will enjoy the bundle, it’s a piece of gaming history and nothing has been lost in the transition from Atari to modern day PC. New players who enjoy a challenge will find some value in both games, it’s well worth the asking price.
The Chip’s Challenge 1 and 2 Bundle is currently available through Steam for Windows PC.