The itemswapper is a common Chip's Challenge level theme, consisting of a chain of items composing either one section or the entire level. Chip collects an item and uses it to collect another item, then another, in a continuous chain until the final goal is reached. From time to time, other tiles such as buttons, blocks or even the socket and exit may be included in the chain.
Itemswappers typically include both boots and keys, although they can be solely keys or solely boots guarded by thieves after each boot is used. Computer chips are usually also included, as the itemswapper can often be distilled into something as simple as collecting a chip to pass the socket. Lesson 1 can be classified as an itemswapper.
There are many types of itemswappers, wide or thin, random or structured, single-themed or eclectic.
- Wide itemswappers include obstacles between each stage, such as monster rooms or ice/force floor challenges. One example is Run-a-Muck, one of the widest itemswappers known to exist.
- Thin itemswappers are usually within a small space, where one stage is next to the other.
- Random itemswappers allow for many different paths, where there is no unique route. One famous example is Which One Next? by Jimmy Vermeer.
- Structured itemswappers follow a strict pattern, where one stage explicitly leads to the next. Smorgasbord's southwest section is structured.
- Single-themed itemswappers usually stick with one type of tile: locks, boots or computer chips. One of the most famous itemswappers of all time, based solely on a giant jumble of locks and keys, is David Stolp's too many keys. A CC1 example is Steam.
- Eclectic itemswappers add many kinds of obstacles, often adding unconventional twists such as using monsters to remove destructive obstacles as a stage.
Throughout CC1, the itemswapper theme is relatively uncommon, but they often appeared in custom level sets, and therefore made their way into CCLP2 and CCLP3. Examples from CCLP2 are Frost Swirl, Roller Coaster, and Patrolled. Examples from CCLP3 are Tool Box, Item Unlocker, and Civilization of Creatures.