Game Reviews

Chuck's Challenge

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| Chuck's Challenge
Chuck's Challenge
| Chuck's Challenge

Making a sequel to Atari Lynx puzzle classic Chip’s Challenge was always going to be a largely thankless task.

Stick too close to emulating the original and you’re accused of a lack of ambition, but stray too far away from the successful formula and you could end up with mess that ends up pleasing no one.

Developer Niffler bravely attempts to walk a middle ground with Chuck’s Challenge, but it struggles to keep the game completely out of its predecessor’s shadow.

Chip off the old block

In terms of the core gameplay, little has changed in 22 years. Chuck’s Challenge offers up several self-contained stages viewed from an overhead perspective, throwing liberal amounts of block-pushing, switch-pulling, key-collecting, and enemy-avoiding your way.

With many of the levels you’ll need to collect a certain number of F.I.S.H (Fuel In Silicon Housings) pick-ups to deactivate the electrical barriers to reach the vortex exit.

The main differences you’ll notice in the first place are merely cosmetic. Instead of the bespectacled Chip you play as purple alien named Woop, and the loveable pixel-art from the Lynx original has been replaced with a slightly charmless mix of 3D models and 2D objects.

Chucking it all away

Despite the aesthetics getting a new lick of paint Chuck’s Challenge’s greatest strength is its traditional feel.

Everything is tightly designed, and rarely does anything feel out of place. There’s a good variation in the challenges you face, and rarely do stages feel like they’re overlapping with one another.

What is disappointing is how some challenges fall back onto tired puzzle game conventions. Do we really need another slippy ice floor conundrum?

It’s when Chuck’s Challenge combines new and old that it’s at its most effective - such as when you’re given odd power-ups such as magnet arms and a rubber dinghy to help you to traverse clichéd terrain such as lava, ice, and conveyor belts.

Another thing that prevents the game from falling into a routine is how slower stages that require forward-thinking have been mixed in with faster paced ones.

The latter can be slightly problematic with the occasionally awkward touchscreen controls (D-pad, joystick, and swipe options are all available, but none feels completely intuitive), but a rewind feature does help to eliminate potential frustration.

It doesn’t matter if you’re struggling with one type of level, either – the game gives you levels in chunks of five, and passing three of them is enough to see the next batch.

Packing it in

Chuck’s Challenge doesn’t just offer old skool charm, either - there are plenty of indicators marking it out as a product of the 21st century.

The most notable of these is that Chuck’s Challenge is a freemium title, with the first pack of 25 stages being free and others costing 69p each - or you can buy all three for £1.49. A future pack with even harder levels is hinted at in the latter stages, too.

An intuitive level creator - where you can play and share your creations with the world – as well as a Bluetooth-enabled multiplayer Race mode help add further value to a package that’s obviously been assembled with a great deal of care.

Chipping away

As a sequel to an ageing classic, Chuck’s Challenge is probably as good as anyone could hope for (despite the absence of the original leading man) - but that’s sadly its main problem.

It often feels like too much of a throwback, and although it’s an enjoyably old-fashioned romp it's a long way from matching the very best puzzle titles on the App Store.

Much like synth music, Chuck’s Challenge would have seemed cutting edge 20 years ago and still has a certain charm, but it's too dated to stand out in the modern age.

Chuck's Challenge

Despite being comprehensive in terms of content, Chuck’s Challenge is too dated to really stand out