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Have You Played... Chip's Challenge?

Lost and now found

Allow me to tell you about the greatest test of logic ever devised. Originally conceived for the Atari Lynx (of all things), Chip’s Challenge found popularity when it was bundled with Microsoft Entertainment Packs for use with Windows 3.1. If you remember any of this, then you probably have fond memories of Chip. Both it and the sequel (more on that below) are on Steam for a price that’s less than your lunch.

What it lacks in visual fidelity, even for its time, it more than makes up for in, well, challenge. You only need the directional keys to control Chip, but the game quickly lets you know that it seeks to befuddle and bamboozle you.

Mastering the 149 levels requires you to fully understand how each piece of the puzzle works so intricately that you’ll see blocks, chips, and water whenever you close your eyes. It’s maddening in a sense, but that could just be the jaunty tunes playing in a loop. It may seem primitive to look at, but the increasingly taxing puzzles kept me playing back in the early 90s.

And yes, it does have a sequel. Technically, it's a recent one, with a backstory that beggars belief. Chip's Challenge 2 was created in 1999, but not released until the reissue of the original game in 2015 on Steam. All thanks to some weird trademark shenanigans. It’s more of a glorified expansion pack with a few new tiles, but it opens up the floodgates for custom levels thanks to a level editor and Steam Workshop support. As the original had a modding scene, this is definitely in the spirit of things and needs more encouragement.

Chip was lost for many years, as Windows 95 was packed with the likes of Minesweeper and Solitaire to reduce work productivity in offices for decades. That’s probably just as well. If Chip was packed in with Windows 95, workplace productivity would have hit rock bottom.

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