If you grew up in the ’90s and you had a PC, then there’s a good chance that you played Chip’s Challenge at some point. If you enjoyed the dual challenges of figuring out the solution to each level and of avoiding all the enemies when executing it, then it was disappointing that Chip’s Challenge 2 was stuck in publishing purgatory. A purgatory that finally, after 25 years, has ended. Now that it’s finally out, how does it hold up?
On one hand, Chip’s Challenge 2 is a difficult, but very fair, puzzle game. Rarely will you fail on a puzzle as a result of anything other than your own fault. On the other hand, there’s just no getting around some of the limits placed on you as a result of it being made for much, much less powerful machines. For instance, while some levels may take place on grids that are 100-by-100 or more, you are stuck viewing no more than 10-by-10 at any given time. While it is still possible to beat all the levels with that limitation, it can often cause you to take more attempts to finish correctly than it should, while you learn to remember where everything is without seeing it.
Another issue is that there are many very long and complex puzzles and levels in Chip’s Challenge 2. Some of them rely not only on doing everything exactly one specific way, but also at a specific time. Miss it, or make one wrong move, and you’ll have to restart the entire level, no matter how long you’ve spent on it or how close to the end you were. Combined with the visible screen limit, there were multiple levels in which I did something wrong near the very beginning of the puzzle and didn’t find out until I was right at the end and suddenly I couldn’t go through the very last door. I was glad to see that you have the ability to simply skip levels this time, too. There are times when I just can’t figure out how to get past one and would normally just stop playing entirely, but instead I can just continue on as if I had solved it.
Chip’s Challenge 2 comes with a very detailed and extensive tutorial. The first few levels see Chip through a variety of very simple puzzles, learning the rules of the world and how everything interacts. You are shown by text and example which shoes will protect you from what obstacles, how to deal with every enemy in the game, how to handle keys and other environmental objects and how to handle failure. Honestly, more games need to have such a great introduction to the logic that runs the world.
Chip’s Challenge 2 has 200 levels built into it and a level editor is included, so it won’t be long before the community starts creating even more difficult levels. Every single puzzle element from both games is available in it, so you can make some truly devilish designs.
Despite how rough much of the game’s technical design is now, I can’t hate it. It looks and feels and frustrates and charms me in all the same, nostalgic ways the original did when I was a kid. I wondered if the reason I found the original so challenging and frustrating decades ago was because I was just a dumb kid at the time, but if Chip’s Challenge 2 is any indication, I’m just as dumb now. I’d like to think that’s a good thing.
Pros: Great tutorial, well-designed puzzles, can skip levels, full level editor
Cons: Small viewing area, no mid-level checkpoints, looks and feels like a 25-year-old game