Chuck’s Challenge is a great retro-style puzzle game and a worthy successor to the Atari Lynx classic Chip’s Challenge. It also just got a lot of new content for experienced players with its “Flummery update”.
The original Chip’s Challenge was developed for the Atari Lynx, but I first played it on its big Atari cousin – the Atari ST. It was one of those games that was easy to pick up but hard to master once you got to the harder levels, and I liked it so much that I sought it out again in cartridge form when I finally bought a Lynx. Hearing that – 25 years later – there was now a follow-up available, I immediately got excited. That, and I felt a little old.
Chuck’s Challenge, like its predecessor, is a tile-based puzzler that combines a lot of different gameplay elements into a neat package. There is some maze solving, there are switches to flip, boxes to push around and conveyer belts to move around on. The list goes on, because you’ll also encounter slippery surfaces, lava tiles, a range of bad guys and much more as you get further into the game. There are also items you can pick up to help you in your quest, such as keys or magnetic shoes to help you walk on conveyor belts. It’s a very simple concept, but the complexity is (as it should be) in the level design.
The game is quite similar to Chip’s Challenge in terms of gameplay, but does provide a few changes. There is a 3D view that you can use to rotate the level and get a new perspective on things, and you can also room in and out to play your approach to each puzzle. Furthermore, the game also comes with an option to create your own levels and share them online – creating a virtually endless amount of content.
The heart of the game, however, are the game’s own levels – which are masterfully designed for the most part. Despite getting more complex and throwing more diverse tiles and problems at you, you always have that “I should be able to figure this out!”-feeling that all good puzzle games strive for. Every now and then you’ll encounter a level that feels a little more ‘random’ in terms of its solution, but those are exceptions and you can expect this game to test your logic and not your patience.
In Chuck’s Challenge, the game’s designer (Chuck Sommerville) has put himself into the game as he gets kidnapped by a friendly Alien called Zoop. To facilitate his release, Chuck must design levels for Zoop – who is somehow familiar with Chuck’s reputation. That’s really all there is to the plot, but this was never meant to be a story-driven experience anyway. The game’s strength is in how it taxes your logic skills, and it does so for 150 levels – that’s including the brand new “Flummery” update that adds another 25 levels to the core game.
As a game that you can either play for hours or just pick up to tackle a level or two, Chuck’s Challenge is a really fun casual puzzler that provides you with a serious brain workout. Recommend, especially if you have fond memories of Chuck Sommerville’s original creation.