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Chip's Challenge

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Exit.png This page is specifically about the original set of levels that shipped with Chip's Challenge. For the game itself, see MSCC (for the popular 1992 Windows port) or Chip's Challenge for Atari Lynx (for the original).

Chip's Challenge, often abbreviated to CC1, can refer to the very first set of Chip's Challenge levels: those that shipped with with the first game. Strictly speaking, that would be the the Lynx game, but CC1 more often means the slightly modified set bundled with the 1992 Windows port. It consists of 149 levels, one of which is exclusive to the Windows port.

As the original levelset, it naturally served as an inspiration for an entire generation of level designers, though some of the levels are less well-regarded with the benefit of hindsight. Thousands of custom levels have been created since the game's release, and the community is still actively producing more. The Bit Busters Club fansite serves as a hub for collecting the levels (and other information about the game), and the community favorites are regularly collected into semi-official Chip's Challenge Level Packs.

The presence of a time limit inspired players to race through the puzzles as quickly as possible and compare their times, creating what may be one of the earliest speedrunning communities, with records going back as far as 1993. These are also collected on the Bit Busters Club site.

Themes[edit]

The levelset spans a wide variety of themes and doesn't shy away from playing with its mechanics.

A number of levels are mazes of some sort (as was common in games in the 80s and early 90s), and in fact the in-game story refers to the levels themselves as mazes. Most of them have a unique twist. Strange Maze and Scavenger Hunt are fairly basic, but make use of the basic game elements. Blink introduces teleporters, creating multiple maze fragments that interconnect. Mishmesh and Chipmine heavily feature blue walls, and so must be explored before the maze takes shape. Vanishing Act is comprised entirely of dirt (which becomes floor once stepped on) and invisible walls (which look exactly like floor), creating a maze that slowly renders itself invisible as a player traverses it. Stripes? is partly invisible from the beginning. Cellblocked and Short Circuit prevent you from backtracking and benefit especially well from map-making. Rink, I Slide, and Doublemaze consist largely of ice, making it more difficult to understand the available paths. Apartment and Amsterdam are built out of tiny rooms that frequently connect to their neighbors, offering more options but also more ways to get stuck. Fireflies is two overlapping mazes: one you can traverse and one fireballs can traverse, leaving you vulnerable in the places where they intersect.

As Chip's Challenge features pushable blocks which can clear otherwise deadly water, it lends itself well to Sokoban-style levels. Castle Moat is a more traditional Sokoban: numerous blocks are crammed into tight corridors and require careful thought to extract. Pier Seven has relatively simple block pushing; the puzzle is figuring out where the given number of blocks will reach the center island. Iceberg and Arcticflow feature a series of small islands in icy waters to traverse. Oversea Delivery requires teleporting four blocks through a series of islands without losing any to the sea, while On the Rocks practically invites a player to fill it in. Writers Block, Cityblock, and Pain are infamous for the incredible amount of precise block maneuvering required.

Redirection of monsters by taking advantage of their simple behavior is another common theme. Metastable to Chaos asks the player to disrupt a choreographed dance of bugs by introducing blocks, and Lemmings is a similar idea with rings of fireballs. Traffic Cop has the player direct a fireball across the entirety of the level to press a button. "Underground" levels like Digger, Digdirt, Spooks, and Underground require carefully directing monsters away from the player while digging through a large area of dirt.

Unlike Sokoban and similar turn-based puzzle games, Chip's Challenge plays out in real time, so dodging monsters adds an extra twist. Ping Pong, Problems, and Bounce City offer some relatively simple tasks, but require that they be done while dodging rows of pink balls. Beware of Bug consists of tight corridors that require quick recognition of where a monster will go.

A sort of inverse of maze levels are those that feature patterns and repetition, requiring patience and a methodical approach. Oorto Geld requires setting up an automated button-pressing mechanism, then slipping into several dozen small rooms to collect computer chips. Seeing Stars has a large number of small water gaps to cross in a variety of similar arrangements. Refraction asks a player to collect hearts from within a fractal of toggle elements. Reverse Alley is a spiral of blue tanks whose movements are tricky to predict. Telenet, Colony, and Memory feature numerous copies of the same small rooms.

Some levels have no strong theme and are instead general romps through a series of miscellaneous challenges. Nuts and Bolts, Nightmare, and All Full are some well-known examples. Others, like Trinity, Elementary, and Mugger Square, are designed around using the game's four different "elemental" tiles in parallel.

Finally, and perhaps least popular of all, are levels that rely on random elements. Blobnet and Blobdance are infamously tricky; both are packed full of the randomly-moving blobs and require patience and quick reflexes. Jumping Swarm pits the player against a wide-open space that fills with walkers bouncing in all directions. Forced Entry and Force Field are technically not random, but their dizzying arrangements of force floors are so tricky to navigate that a common approach is to simply mash keys and hope for the best.

Not all of the levels fit neatly into a theme, of course. Southpole, Knot, Cypher, The Prisoner, Totally Unfair, Special, and many others feature novel puzzles unlike anything else in the game.

The levels[edit]

The Atari Lynx version of Chip's Challenge has 148 increasingly difficult levels which Chip must complete, and there is a 149th level added to the Windows Entertainment Pack version. This original level set is often referred to as Chip's Challenge 1 (CC1), though it should be noted that CC1 can also refer to the game as a whole, to contrast with CC2.

As these were the first Chip's Challenge levels, they begin by introducing the functions of the tiles in the lesson levels, then tie them together in Nuts and Bolts, and add new elements only sparingly from then on out. There are very few levels of high difficulty in CC1 compared to future fan-made level packs such as Chip's Challenge Level Pack 2, as knowledge of puzzle design and game mechanics were comparatively primitive.

The levels were designed in approximately three parts: 1/3 of them by Chuck Sommerville, another third by a professional puzzle designer known as Bill Darrah, and the rest by Chuck's team of programmers and playtesters:[1]

  • James Donald
  • M. Peter Engelbrite
  • Victoria Hanson
  • RG Goudy
  • Stephen Jungels
  • Scott Nelson
  • Pete Wierzbicki

Among aficionados of this type of puzzle game, the Windows version (usually referred to as the MS version) of Chip's Challenge is famous for its glitches and busted levels. This was a result of changed mechanics from Lynx to MS and little playtesting in the MS version. Although there were many levels made easier, such as Scoundrel, some levels became far more difficult; the level that would become the Spirals corruption had to be changed because the walkers would spread far quicker under MS rules, and levels with extensive use of hot blocks such as Block N Roll and Special became frustrating trial and error challenges to solve due to the inability to block slap.

The Steam re-release of Chip's Challenge 1 uses the game engine from Chip's Challenge 2, which is the Lynx ruleset with some minor changes.

List of CC1 levels[edit]

# Level Title Password Time Limit MS Bold Lynx Bold
1 Lesson 1 BDHP 100 83 82
2 Lesson 2 JXMJ 100 90 89
3 Lesson 3 ECBQ 100 89 88
4 Lesson 4 YMCJ 150 116 116
5 Lesson 5 TQKB 100 85 84
6 Lesson 6 WNLD (MS)
WNLP (Lynx)
100 94 93
7 Lesson 7 FXQO 150 139 138
8 Lesson 8 NHAG 100 96 96
9 Nuts and Bolts KCRE 400 306 299
10 Brushfire UVWS (MS)
VUWS (Lynx)
80 51 51
11 Trinity CNPE 300 211 204
12 Hunt WVHI 400 270 269
13 Southpole OCKS --- 982 981
14 Teleblock BTDY 250 204 196
15 Elementary COZQ 250 89 88
16 Cellblocked SKKK --- 971 971
17 Nice Day AJMG 100 83 82
18 Castle Moat HMJL 600 553 552
19 Digger MRHR 210 171 171
20 Tossed Salad KGFP 400 340 340
21 Iceberg UGRW 150 119 115
22 Forced Entry WZIN 300 293 288
23 Blobnet HUVE 500 436 435
24 Oorto Geld UNIZ 550 430 431
25 Blink PQGV 600 435 422
26 Chchchips YVYJ 300 254 254
27 Go with the Flow IGGZ 200 147 144
28 Ping Pong UJDO (MS)
UJDD (Lynx)
300 239 236
29 Arcticflow QGOL 400 302 286
30 Mishmesh BQZP 600 454 454
31 Knot RYMS 29 6 3
32 Scavenger Hunt PEFS 600 379 379
33 On the Rocks BQSN --- 684 631
34 Cypher NQFI 350 297 297
35 Lemmings VDTM 600 577 577
36 Ladder NXIS 350 232 241
37 Seeing Stars VQNK 800 597 586
38 Sampler BIFA 500 462 452
39 Glut ICXY 20 17 17
40 Floorgasborg YWFH 200 195 192
41 I.C. You GKWD 250 172 166
42 Beware of Bug LMFU 300 187 187
43 Lock Block UJDP 200 126 118
44 Refraction TXHL 300 146 144
45 Monster Lab OVPZ 300 292 286
46 Three Doors HDQJ 250 222 200
47 Pier Seven LXPP 300 231 220
48 Mugger Square JYSF 300 277 271
49 Problems PPXI 200 162 161
50 Digdirt QBDH 350 318 319
51 I Slide IGGJ 750 655 649
52 The Last Laugh PPHT 400 382 381
53 Traffic Cop CGNX 500 478 452
54 Grail ZMGC 350 326 319
55 Potpourri SJES 100 70 68
56 Deepfreeze FCJE 250 162 150
57 Strange Maze UBXU 400 229 228
58 Loop Around YBLT 600 550 546
59 Hidden Danger BLDM 400 368 366
60 Scoundrel ZYVI 294 288 232
61 Rink RMOW --- 950 921
62 Slo Mo TIGW 300 282 282
63 Block Factory GOHX 500 477 473
64 Spooks IJPQ 600 548 547
65 Amsterdam UPUN 500 397 383
66 Victim ZIKZ 300 292 291
67 Chipmine GGJA 700 518 518
68 Eeny Miny Moe RTDI 650 489 492
69 Bounce City NLLY 300 229 220
70 Nightmare GCCG 199 136 136
71 Corridor LAJM 500 355 351
72 Reverse Alley EKFT --- 961 961
73 Morton QCCR 600 485 485
74 Playtime MKNH 400 359 355
75 Steam MJDV 500 479 479
76 Four Plex NMRH 550 416 407
77 Invincible Champion FHIC 500 481 478
78 Force Square GRMO 500 480 469
79 Drawn and Quartered JINU 300 220 218
80 Vanishing Act EVUG 800 733 732
81 Writers Block SCWF --- 516 521
82 Socialist Action LLIO 999 969 969
83 Up the Block OVPJ 400 298 297
84 Wars UVEO 600 580 579
85 Telenet LEBX 300 236 224
86 Suicide FLHH 400 381 380
87 Cityblock YJYS --- 550 524
88 Spirals WZYV 400 317 317
89 Block Buster VCZO 450 402 380
90 Playhouse OLLM 400 318 314
91 Jumping Swarm JPQG 400 367 367
92 Vortex DTMI 500 444 443
93 Roadsign REKF 800 651 637
94 Now You See It EWCS --- 906 906
95 Four Square BIFQ 350 335 333
96 Paranoia BIFQ (MS)
WVHY (Lynx)
399 320 318
97 Metastable to Chaos IOCS 300 290 290
98 Shrinking TKWD 350 338 332
99 Catacombs XUVU 399 380 373
100 Colony QJXR --- 911 911
101 Apartment RPIR 300 240 240
102 Icehouse VDDU 200 177 175
103 Memory PTAC 600 488 488
104 Jailer KWNL 300 235 234
105 Short Circuit YNEG 350 255 254
106 Kablam NXYB --- 907 903
107 Balls O Fire ECRE 300 260 258
108 Block Out LIOC 350 278 272
109 Torturechamber KZQR 150 133 129
110 Chiller XBAO 399 276 270
111 Time Lapse KRQJ --- 963 961
112 Fortune Favours The NJLA --- 985 985
113 Open Question PTAS 500 462 463
114 Deception JWNL 200 172 174
115 Oversea Delivery EGRW --- 922 898
116 Block Buster II HXMF 750 717 699
117 The Marsh FPZT --- 942 923
118 Miss Direction OSCW 300 260 258
119 Slide Step PHTY 250 210 178
120 Alphabet Soup FLXP --- 949 942
121 Perfect Match BPYS --- 968 966
122 Totally Fair SJUM 300 272 272
123 The Prisoner YKZE 299 272 270
124 Firetrap TASX 800 667 661
125 Mixed Nuts MYRT --- 830 821
126 Block N Roll QRLD 600 443 426
127 Skelzie JMWZ 500 454 442
128 All Full FTLA 400 315 292
129 Lobster Trap HEAN 300 286 287
130 Ice Cube XHIZ --- 933 925
131 Totally Unfair FIRD 60 26 26
132 Mix Up ZYFA 999 683 598
133 Blobdance TIGG --- 949 946
134 Pain XPPH --- 218 192
135 Trust Me LYWO 300 293 256
136 Doublemaze LUZL --- 926 792
137 Goldkey HPPX 450 392 381
138 Partial Post LUJT 300 240 225
139 Yorkhouse VLHH --- 920 919
140 Icedeath SJUK 300 263 247
141 Underground MCJE --- 968 969
142 Pentagram UCRY --- 968 966
143 Stripes? OKOR --- 858 858
144 Fireflies GVXQ --- 832 832
145 Thanks to... TONY --- 991 N/A
146 Cake Walk JHEN 999 717 704
147 Force Field COZA --- 970 959
148 Mind Block RGSK --- 629 630
149 Special DIGW 999 955 949

Top 10 CC1 players[edit]

Current as of March 16, 2020

MS[edit]

# Player Score Bold count
1 David Stolp 5,977,790 140
2 James Anderson 5,977,700 140
2 Jeffrey Bardon 5,977,700 141
4 J.B. Lewis 5,977,670 146
5 Kacper Leszczyński 5,977,530 127
6 Ruben Spaans 5,977,520 134
7 Andrew Bennett 5,977,510 125
8 Andrew Gapic 5,977,480 111
9 Patrik Nilsson 5,977,420 139
10 Evan Dummit 5,977,400 126

Lynx[edit]

  • Melinda score - 5,898,160.
  • Highest possible bold score - 5,898,080
# Player Score Bold count
1 J.B. Lewis 5,898,050 145
2 Eddy Limb 5,897,990 140
3 Ruben Spaans 5,897,890 132
4 Paul Gilbert 5,894,960 75
5 Miika Toukola 5,892,980 104
6 Reynaldi Judianto 5,875,400 1
7 Jeffrey Bardon 5,871,190 38
8 RB3ProKeys 5,858,380 12
9 Tyler Sontag 5,855,110 110
10 Steven Jones 5,851,940 18

Steam[edit]

  • Highest possible bold score - 5,972,180
# Player Score Bold count
1 J.B. Lewis 5,972,140 147
2 Ruben Spaans 5,971,650 137
3 chipster1059 5,968,130 127
4 Aetherstorm Roc 5,958,810 118
5 random 8 5,951,390 99
6 Jeffrey Bardon 5,944,130 49
7 Tyler Sontag 5,938,670 39
8 James Anderson 5,927,700 40
9 Bowman 5,921,770 30
10 Naemuti 5,921,320 38

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Field, Richard. "Message from Chuck Sommerville" (Internet Archive). Retrieved 27 June 2019.

External links[edit]

Older high score sites: