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In the original Chip's Challenge, the player always controls Chip. In Chip's Challenge 2, Melinda is introduced as a playable character, so the player may control Chip or Melinda. "Player character" refers to either of these characters, when playable. Since Chip was the only playable character in the first game, some pages use "Chip" to refer to the general properties of a player character, even when describing mechanics in the second game.
For more information on the two characters, visit their individual pages.