Retro Revisited: Chip's Challenge

The following is a post from one of our new writers, James. He wrote a review on a retro game to start off, and below is a little more information on him. Enjoy!

I am ShinyKamon, most people call me Shiny, some Kamon, a few know me as Bon, but my given name is James. This is my first blog post, though I have written in the past, mostly for personal enjoyment. As far as gaming, I play mostly strategy and RPG games. Personally, I came to Christ in 2012 and in 2016 received the revelation of my calling to be involved in the video game industry.

What makes a game great. How do we come to a mutual consensus? I wanted to look into ways to expand this conversation because there are many games that were made in the 90s and 2000s that were not as widely acclaimed as others. These are games that we can all celebrate and talk about. 

I’m going to list some criteria and then use that to grade a few classic, recent or underrated games.

What I will base it on are going to points out of 5, in these categories:

  • Challenge
  • Story
  • Character goals/what you want to achieve.
  • Music
  • Gameplay

First, is a classic Atari Lynx game published in 1989, and re-released on Windows 3.1 operating system in 1992 called Chip’s Challenge. It’s the story of a man who has a crush on a girl. The girl in question, Matilda the Mental Marvel, is a member of a very exclusive club. To have a chance with her, he would have to join the club.

As the player, you assume the role of this man, and delve into 144 puzzles to explore and solve. 

On a gameplay level, it is deceptively simple. You use the arrow keys or WSAD keys depending on how you decide to map your keys. There’s no mouse work needed at all. The camera is top-down isometric. There are different terrain types like the basic ground, what looks like asphalt, dirt, a conveyor belt, fire, water, and ice.

For ice, you can either just slide helplessly in a single direction or equip ice skates. They auto-equip once picked up by walking over them. There’s a green suction cup boots, red fire suppressant boots, and swimming flippers for different terrains as well.

You explore each level, move blocks around, and pick up chips and keys. Some levels have various enemy types, each with different quirks. Ants will walk along a wall and always turn right, a monster will chase you down, ships patrol alleys turning left, amongst other hazards. You can move some things by force by walking over a button.

Each level has the same basic goal to collect all the chips and proceed to the next level. The ultimate goal is to join the Bit Busters club and get close to Matilda.

Many puzzles can take up to 10 or more minutes, have many victory requirements, and if you fail in any way, you have to restart from the very beginning of that level. Each puzzle makes you think and challenges your problem-solving skills.

The game gets progressively harder and time consuming while mixing in fun challenges that are a touch simpler after particularly difficult puzzles.

Chip’s Challenge has two original soundtracks. The second is mostly a remix of the first with a couple of extra sounds and level music made for the game’s re-release on Steam. It is a solid bit of work even though the original music was 16 bit. It sounded great and though many people wouldn’t recognize it today, the games cult-following would recognize the game from just a few notes of its music.

  • Challenge: 5
  • Story: 2
  • Goals: 3
  • Music: 4
  • Gameplay: 4
  • Final score: 18/25

Chip’s Challenge is perhaps one of the earliest games to be played on nearly every computer during the 90s. The game is a classic. It’s gameplay really enables replayability even though there’s no changes and all the challenges are the same. You have some choices when it comes to solving each level, but you will always follow the same basic goals.

The real question is, can you help Chip get close to Matilda?

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