Chip’s Challenge 1 & 2 – Review
Follow Genre: 2D Indie puzzle game
Developer: Niffler Ltd.
Publisher: Niffler Ltd., Nkidu Games Inc.
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Chip’s Challenge 1 & 2 – Review

Site Score
Good: easy to learn, challenging, frustrating in a good way
Bad: no more intro, strange choice of hint text colour, tiring background music
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

It has already been 25 years since Chip’s Challenge was first published. The game was a great success, so it wasn’t a surprise that Chuck Sommerville started to work on a sequel to this classic puzzle game. Unfortunately for Chuck and the fans, new trademark owners posed a problem for the publishing of the new title and so the chance of ever seeing what Chip’s Challenge 2 would have been like became incredibly slim. Recently however, after years of negotiating, both games were able to be released on Steam for the enjoyment of both young and old.

Chips Challenge_title


As both titles are strictly puzzle games, there is little story that is actually of major relevance. However, the games still offer a bit of narrative to frame the amount of brain fodder Chip’s Challenge 1 & 2 have to offer.

In the original title, we follow Chip McCallahan, a brainy student with a major crush on blonde Melinda. As part of ‘the Bit Busters’, the school’s computer club, Melinda ‘the Mental Marvel’ offers Chip a spot in her team should he be able to solve a series of challenges. Eager to please a lovely lady, Chip accepts the trials in order to win over her heart.

Chip’s Challenge 2 is a direct sequel to the previous games. In it, the Bit Busters, lead by Melinda and Chip, are challenged by the international brain game club. Even though these ‘Puzzle Masters’ are of a higher level, the various tests all seem to feature game elements from Chip’s very first trials. However, these new stages quickly show what the Masters have in store as both Chip and Melinda move through labyrinths full of not just familiar hazards, but also completely new ones.


As you’d expect from computer games first released around 1990, the graphics are simple but functional. The actual puzzle screen, which consists of a grey 9 by 9 (or 10 by 10 for Chip’s Challenge 2) grid, is placed in the middle of a sea of black to ensure proper contrast. All objects and hazards have their own specific and easily recognisable look, making good use of the simplest of colour schemes. Text is delivered in a vivid yellow, which looks great on the black. However, larger texts and hints are put right on top of the play world. This sadly creates a rather busy image. Fortunately, the texts vanish as quickly as they come and therefore do not disturb gameplay.

Chips Challenge 1_1

The general look of both titles is completely synchronised, making it very clear they are of the same series. There are however some clear differences between the original game for the Atari Lynx, the first version for Windows, and the Steam PC version of today. To start off, the Steam version does not feature the Atari intro clip showing the credits and furthermore leaves out the circuit board background in favour of the sleeker black. Another change is that now scoring and collected utensils are being shown under the game screen rather than on the right. The pixel art itself also received an upgrade, stepping away from the static movements found in the original Windows version and going back to the smoother look of the Atari. Meanwhile, objects and characters look sharper and clearer while still giving off a retro ‘mine-sweeper’ kind of feel.

A final point is that as of yet the game can only be played in a window of about 1260 x 885 pixels. While this didn’t bother us in any way, we can imagine a lot of players would actually prefer to play both titles full screen. However, this is already a great improvement since the original Steam releases as these only offered a resolution of about 640 x 470. Maybe having even more patience might be the key here as the developer promised fans to be working on a full screen mode.


While most games seem to get the sound very right, we are rather torn on Chip’s Challenge 1 & 2. The sound effects in both titles are not too bad and manage to give the impression of physically having gone back in time. The voices, for example the one saying ‘bummer’ every time you die, are a great plus too. The music however feels incredibly off. While for example the Atari sported well-crafted bit music, the Steam version comes with a somewhat boring piano tune. It dishearthened us in such a way that we decided to play most of the game with the track disabled.

Chips Challenge 1_2


As retro 2D Indie sokoban-esque puzzle games, Chip’s Challenge 1 and 2 come with simple controls and lots of brain-cell-cracking fun. In the first title, Chip is the only playable character and movement and actions are limited to the WASD-keys. In order to become a part of the Bit Buster team, the game sends the player through a grand total of 149 puzzles. The goal in every stage is to find a way into the swirling blue teleporter which brings you to the next level. To get there, Chip needs to finds ways to get past the barriers put up around them. A very frequent blockade in this are processors which can only be removed after having collected all computer chips scattered throughout the labyrinth, finding keys of the right colour to open the corresponding doors or deciding what footwear will help to traverse certain obstacles. Sounds easy enough? Think again.

Whilst the first few puzzles lull the player into a false sense of security, the difficulty quickly rises. Chip quickly has to learn which boots help against heat, ice, water or fast moving transporter belts while stationary bandits are after his assets. If this isn’t enough, various enemies try to prematurely end Chip’s journey by stinging or biting him to death. Luckily the lad is very resilient and will simply spawn back at the entrance of the level with every fail.

Next to a series of nasty traps, the player also needs to frequently combat time, whilst also fighting the deviously handcrafted levels themselves. We often found ourselves in a highly frustrating pickle when discovering at the end of the puzzle that we apparently picked up an item that actively forbade us to progress to the next stage. In this aspect, the game can be magnificently aggravating and in return highly rewarding when you’ve finally managed to beat a dastardly tricky puzzle. Should a level prove too hard to beat however, the game luckily offers the option to skip it.

Chips Challenge 2_1

Chip’s Challenge 2 keeps all of the first game’s gameplay, yet adds a lot of new features during its 200 levels. For example, next to the classic WASD-key mobility, the player now has the power to do some inventory management like cycling through their utilities or dropping an item. Though these might sound a bit unnecessary at first, the game makes sure the features aren’t just there for show. It actively forces you to think about the items in your possession even more than the first game did.

The second title also offers a lot more variation in enemy types and object interaction. The amount is that enormous that the tutorial levels, which introduce them to the player at a fast pace, can feel overwhelming at first. The feeling even gets strengthened increasingly by the comically high amount of hints plastered across the stages. Luckily, the high tempo simply means the actual puzzle can start a lot sooner.

A great new thing in Chip’s Challenge 2 is the fact you also get the chance to finally play as Melinda in certain levels. This Mental Marvel has a couple of special tricks up her sleeve. As a lady, she is able to elegantly walk over ice while Chip would slide away without wearing the right boots. Of course, since assets need to be balanced, this also means Melinda is in need of some proper footwear to be able to traverse dirty floors like gravel instead. This allows for a great mix up in the game, demanding the player to focus not only on what they see or are holding, but also on the specialities of their characters as mistakes can cost you a great deal.

Chips Challenge 2_2


Both Chip’s Challenge 1 and 2 are addictive and pleasantly frustrating games. While the graphics were updated a bit for the Steam version, we love the fact it stuck with a retro style instead of altering the game completely. The gameplay is as you’d expect for games originally released in the early ’90s: easy to learn, harder to master and unforgivingly mischievous. Chip’s Challenge’s sequel also manages to reinvent the classic in 200 new levels without losing sight of the original. Fans of good old school puzzle games will certainly love (re)visiting the challenges. The only ‘bummers’ both Steam versions have, is the tiresome piano track they feature as background music and the annoying choice for yellow lettering on a grey background. Other than this, the Chip’s Challenge games are incredible fun and definitely a good buy.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Chip's Challenge 1 & 2 - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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