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In Chip's Challenge, there are three distinct primary rulesets. Most Chipsters are familiar with the MS ruleset, but the Lynx ruleset has slowly gained popularity over time, partly due to the ease of use of Tile World and the Lynx-compatibility of CCLP3. The Steam-released Chip's Challenge 2 ruleset is virtually identical to the Lynx ruleset, except where otherwise noted on this wiki. The CC2 ruleset also applies to the Steam re-release of Chip's Challenge 1, even if the Microsoft-style tiles are being used.
The Microsoft ruleset, commonly referred to as the MS ruleset, is the ruleset used in the 1992 port of the game to the PC, which is the game most players are familiar with. Because of software limitations (it was developed for Windows 3.1), this ruleset lacks animated gameplay, and instead objects jump from square to square. It also appears that too little playtesting was done, and there are numerous rule differences. Due to sloppy programming, many strange glitches exist, such as slide delay and the Controller and Boss Glitch.
As this is the most well-known ruleset, many custom level sets, especially older ones, are usually designed with this ruleset in mind. Chip's Challenge Level Pack 2, for example, is not completely Lynx-compatible - assuming the original set is being used and not its Lynx counterpart released a decade later. In their original states, 48 levels cannot be played and 21 levels are unsolvable while playing in Lynx. This only leaves 80 solvable levels in the whole set, and even of these, four (Ranger Denmark, Traps I, Glider and Fire, and Cloner's Maze) are highly unequal in solution difficulty. One level in particular, Zartacla, is completely busted due to the ability of block slapping in Lynx play. Rarely, levels are designed exclusively with the Lynx ruleset in mind; examples are Scott Feeney's Graue1_LYNX.dat, Joshua Bone's JoshB_LYNX.dat, and even CCLXP2 in some cases.
The Lynx ruleset is the ruleset that was used in the original 1989 game for the handheld gaming console, the Atari Lynx. These rules were devised and programmed by Chuck Sommerville. All 148 of the original levels in CC1 (excluding Thanks to... from the MS version) were designed with this ruleset in mind, so many of the busts or odd behaviors that occur under the MS ruleset do not occur under the Lynx ruleset.
Steam ruleset (CC2)
The 2015 Steam release of Chip's Challenge 2 and re-release of Chip's Challenge 1 use the same engine, which is currently only available on Windows machines but mostly based on the original Lynx ruleset. It contains some deviations from Lynx, such as allowing backwards overrides and shortening splash delay, but otherwise inherits its rules from Lynx, and can be assumed to inherit everything except where these deviations are explicitly pointed out.
Differences between the various rulesets
Except where otherwise specified, the ruleset comparisons here are between the MS ruleset and the Lynx ruleset.
- In Lynx, the hint, yellow key and green key are all monster-acting walls, and fire is an acting wall to everything but fireballs. In MS, monsters can cross over all keys without altering them. In CC2, a new tile called the flame jet works more similarly to the way fire works in MS, except that it can turn off and that bugs and walkers can also die in them.
- Hints, boots and exits are only block-acting walls in Lynx. (Note: In CC2, "block-acting wall" generally only applies to dirt blocks.)
- In Lynx, Blue keys are erased by all objects, not just Chip. This is the reason for the flippers in Catacombs, as Chip would have to walk around the block L off the blue key.
- The random force floor is not a monster-acting wall in Lynx.
- In MS, ice corners will allow Chip to skate over them from within the tile.
- Boosting, slide delay, cross-checking, block echo, rams, flicks, and the monster order are all MS-exclusive mechanics. Block slapping and animation delay are examples of Lynx-exclusive mechanics.
- In Lynx, when the exit is reached, the clock runs down for one more turn before stopping. It is therefore possible to complete a level in Lynx mode with 0 seconds remaining by exiting at the exact last possible moment, a feat which is not possible in MS.
- The Concussion Rule exists in all rulesets except CC2, where open traps are acting floor regardless of whether or not the released object can slide forward.
- In MS, the connections between brown buttons and traps are explicitly specified by the level designer, but in the original Lynx, buttons are automatically connected to the next trap or machine in forwards wrappable reading order. Tile World's Lynx mode behaves like the MS version unless run in Pedantic mode, in which case only a button with no connections will automatically establish the reading order rule. CC2 inherits its pedantic button connections from Lynx, but also introduces a wiring system for pink and black buttons to allow for more complex connections.
- In MS, a random force floor will randomly select one of the four directions. In Lynx, the random force floor will cycle through the directions in a clockwise manner throughout a play session, starting east, then south, then west, then north.
- In Lynx, blue buttons only apply to currently stationary tanks or tanks that are perfectly aligned with a tile. Therefore, a moving tank will only be able to be reversed on one out of every four frames. This is required in Paranoia. In MS, a blue button applies to all movable non-sliding tanks, with the exception of a glitch known as the Frankenstein Glitch. In the CC2 ruleset, blue buttons apply to all movable tanks.
- In MS, a trap is open at any point after the correct brown button is touched. In Lynx, a trap is only open on the turn its button is being pressed, or during the turn the object moves off the button.
- In MS, a teleport which has no legal exit and no legal move across the teleport will cause a monster to stick in it and erase the teleport from the network; if it is a block, it can simply be pushed off from the side assuming both sides are unblocked, but assuming it is a monster, the only way for the monster to leave the teleport is if the space in front of it becomes open. In Lynx, the monster will treat the teleport as a floor space and act accordingly.
- In some circumstances in MS, a monster clone machine blocked from cloning at the time of the red button hit will still clone if the obstacle is removed. Similarly, in MS, a monster that cannot move out of a trap, even though the brown button has been hit, is released on the turn after the acting wall in front of it is removed (except for tanks, and of course blobs and teeth on their non-moving turn).
- In Lynx, opened traps act sort of like ice to objects. Chip cannot change directions on traps until he hits a wall or steps in a unopened trap. This allows the Lynx time for Ladder to be nine seconds greater than the MS version, and is the reason why Torturechamber is still solvable in Lynx (in MS, the block remains on the sliplist and will slide when released). In CC2, opened traps work as regular floor tiles, but when closed traps are opened by brown buttons (as opposed to wire), they will cause whatever object they had trapped to slide forward one tile.
- In both rulesets, objects can move one space per turn without sliding, but Lynx moves them in real time while MS moves them instantaneously. To work in real time, Lynx has to attempt to move object a quarter of a space every quarter turn, rather than one space every full turn; this means that it is four times as accurate as MS. For example, if a fireball and Chip are both next to flippers in Lynx, Chip only has to wait [1/4] to pick up the flippers safely, because the fireball has attempted to move onto the flippers during this time interval, and is now programmed to turn right even if Chip collects them immediately afterwards.
- In Lynx, chips and boots are acting dirt in every way. In CC2, they act a bit differently from dirt: while the player character is still conidered to be on the destination square when moving, monsters can't step onto a player/dirt combo, but they can step on a player/boot or player/chip combo. Thus, grabbing chips and boots that are guarded by monsters is much more risky than in Lynx.
- In MS, if Chip or a teeth runs into an acting wall, it must wait until the next time it is permitted to move. Under Lynx, Chip can make a move as soon as a quarter of a turn after a failed move. An example would be Ping Pong: if Chip runs into one of the blue walls around the level, he is delayed by [1/4]. In MS (and in this case, CC2 as well), however, this type of move does not cost anything. On the other hand, if Chip is pressing against the blue walls from the inside, he only has to do it for 1/4 of a move in Lynx before it turns grey and then he can move again, whereas in MS, bumping into the wall costs a full move. In CC2, this latter example is the same as in CC1 Lynx unless a form of block-slapping against walls is used.
- In MS, blobs and walkers will not choose a direction that would result in an illegal move on this turn. In Lynx, they will attempt to make any move, so a blob or walker may remain stationary on a space; its direction will change to show the attempted move.
- In Lynx, when a monster moves onto a force floor or ice, their speed will double; in MS, all monsters including the teeth and blob will move at Chip's sliding speed of 10 [m/s]. Teeth still move at 10 m/s on sliding tiles in Lynx, because, on normal floor, they truly move at 5 m/s then pause for one step.
- In Lynx, a more rudimentary variation of boosting exists; Chip can only override force floors when previously sliding on other force floors, and only when attempting to make a sideways move (this last part does not apply to CC2).
- In Lynx, all monsters will exit a trap in the direction they are facing. In MS, bugs, paramecia, and teeth may behave differently, and blobs can still move out of the trap in any legal direction. As mentioned earlier, in CC2, open traps are treated as floor, but trapped objects will slide forward one tile when they are released by a brown button.
- In Lynx, an animation plays when a bomb explodes or a block is placed in water, which blocks Chip from stepping on the space for roughly half of a second (specifically, the animation lasts 11-12 ticks, where 20 ticks = 1 second, and usually translates to 10-11 ticks of waiting; this has been reduced to about 5 ticks of waiting in CC2) or unless a monster touches the space first. This behavior is solely responsible for making Teeth unsolvable.
- In the original Lynx version, as well as CC2, the random seed of randomness-based monsters and mechanics (except blobs) is fixed and will not change with successive attempts of the level. In MS, the path is randomly chosen every time the level starts.
- In the Lynx version, the Steam version, and the TW Lynx emulation, holding two directional keys perpendicular to each other at once will cause you to swap directions whenever you hit a wall. However, only in the original Lynx version, holding two directions also forces you to move in the more recently held direction whenever legal.
- In MS—and to a lesser extent, CC2—any tile can be placed on another tile. In Lynx, exactly one Chip is allowed and every space consists of 1 non-creature and 0 or 1 creatures (here, "creature" includes blocks and Chip). In Tile World, the unused/internal-use tiles, such as fake exit, Burned Chip, Drowned Chip, and Swimming Chip, can be placed, though most of them are replaced by walls. In the original Atari Lynx version, those tiles, as well as North and West thin walls, don't exist, and Tile World's pedantic Lynx mode generally won't play levels containing them.
- When its development was active, Puzzle Studio was being programmed to use Tile World Lynx rules.
- CCLP3, CCLP1, and CCLP4 are all Lynx and MS compatible. Any invalid or impossible level in Lynx (or MS in far more rare cases), or any level where the altered mechanics change the basic route to a significant degree, was excluded from voting.
- The use of pedantic Lynx was debated for CCLP1, but it was ultimately decided it would not be used.
- Lesson 6, Brushfire, Ping Pong and Paranoia have different passwords; the latter was changed in MS to avoid confusion with Four Square's identical password.
- In the CC2 version of Nightmare, the wall at [30, 10] is changed to water. Since the Concussion Rule is absent, this is necessary to prevent the ball above from moving back up after it's released from the trap a second time.
- In MS, some versions of Spirals are corrupted.
- In MS, Catacombs's buttons are wired a bit differently.
- In MS, Time Lapse contains some errors in the trap connections.
- In Lynx, Perfect Match contains an extra patch of ice in the bottom left corner.
- In Lynx, the central room in Skelzie is one row shorter on the top and bottom.
- In Lynx, the password MAND will produce a Mandelbrot generator. No such bonus feature is present in the MS version.
- In MS, an extra level was added to thank the developers.
- In MS, decade messages are missing after Brushfire, Tossed Salad, Mishmesh and Floorgasborg are completed.