Chip's Challenge: Differences between the Lynx and Windows versions

Introduction

Chip's Challenge 2 has finally been released. This is great news for lots of reasons, but among other things this means that we have yet another version of Chip's Challenge 1 to analyze!

For the most part, the new Chip's Challenge 1 appears to adhere quite closely to the original Lynx game. (In fact it adheres even more closely to the MS-DOS port, and possibly to some or all of the other pre-Windows ports. These earlier ports were done by Epyx, and probably involved some of the same people who had developed the original game. The Windows port was done internally by Microsoft, and it's not always obvious that the people who worked on it were terribly familiar with the original.) However, there are nonetheless some differences. I hope to document those differences here.

(An aside: For the time being I'm calling the new version the Windows version. This has the potential to be confused with the version for 16-bit Windows, which until recently was what anybody would have been referring to by "the Windows version". However, I myself have always called that "the MS version", reflecting the fact that that version was actually written by Microsoft. The other obvious name for it would be the "the CC2 version", which strikes me as having quite a bit more potential for confusion.)

Game Logic

One of the first things that most people notice is that the animations for splashes and explosions are only 2 ticks (4 frames) long, as opposed to the 6 ticks of the original Lynx game. This actually matches the MS-DOS version of the game. Certainly this change makes the heavy block-pushing levels slightly less aggravating.

On the original Lynx, a creature on ice hitting an obstacle would would spend that frame turning around, and would only start moving in the opposite direction on the next frame. On the Windows version, this no longer happens, and creatures rebounding on ice are constantly in motion. (This has the side effect of making BLOCK BUSTER significantly harder than it was before — maybe even harder than the Windows version.)

On the original Lynx, when a creature caught in a bear trap was released, the creature would start moving immediately in its current direction. If that direction was blocked, then the creature would not be able to leave the bear trap. (Tanks are the exception to this rule, as they can still turn around when a blue button is pressed.) Under the Windows version of the game, an open bear trap acts much like a normal floor, and the creature is free to turn about normally.

Metadata

There is really only one major difference to the metadata, and that is that passwords are completely gone. Level 34 (CYPHER) has completely lost it reason for existing, and is no doubt confusing the heck out of new CC players.

Actually, there are a few other major differences in the level metadata, but it's only visible to people making new levels. The important one is that it's no longer possible to specify the initial ordering of creatures. The original Lynx game allowed for creatures to be listed in arbitrary order, even though all of the levels in CC1 stuck to the standard ordering. (Namely, list the creatures as they appear on the map in reading order, and then if the creature at the head of the list is not Chip, have it swap places with Chip.) The Windows game has no way to give an alternative ordering to the creatures.

The Original Level Set

There are a small but significant number of differences in the actual data for the original set of levels.

A few of the hints have had cosmetic alterations. For example, the hint to level 16 (CELLBLOCKED) has been changed from "PRESS OPTION 1 TO RESTART ANY LEVEL" to "PRESS ESC TO RESTART ANY LEVEL." The hint to level 3 (LESSON 3) has had its references to the magnet, fire shield, and water shield replaced with magno shoes, fire boots, and flippers. The hint to 131 (TOTALLY UNFAIR) has been rewritten from "REMEMBER SJUM" to "REMEMBER TOTALLY FAIR", since passwords are no longer a feature of the game. A number of the original hints were missing the final period, and these has been fixed. And my favorite: the word "eighth" in the hint for level 113 (OPEN QUESTION) is finally spelled correctly. That fix has been a long time coming.

In level 61 (RINK), Chip is now initially facing south, instead of initially facing north. No other level has Chip's initial direction modified. Shrug.

Okay, on to the interesting changes.

Of course, the biggest change to the original set is that the MS level 145 has been adopted, lock stock and barrel. Even the hint, with its reference to WEP4, has been preserved. (Of course, TONY Krueger got ripped off here, since the passwords are gone.) I'm actually a little annoyed by this level's presence. Setting aside the fact that it isn't a particularly interesting level to play, I've never liked the fact that this level calls out a bunch of MS people for thanking, while completely ignoring Chuck Sommerville, Bill Darrah, and all the other people who actually created the CC1 levels. (Especially when you consider the hash that MS made of the game mechanics). So why was it added? I'm guessing it was mainly done to avoid having a break in the level numbering.

In level 48 (MUGGER SQUARE), the northeastern glider has been advanced one position, presumably done specifically to avoid the collision that strands one of the gliders on the force floors.

In level 70 (NIGHTMARE), there is a small area along the right edge of the map containing ball in a trap. When the ball is released it triggers a fireball clone machine. In the new level set, a water tile has been added to that area. Under the original Lynx ruleset, after the ball returned to the beartrap it could never escape again. That is not the case in the Windows version, due to the new beartrap behavior. So presumably the water tile was added to destroy the ball after it has pressed the red button once.

In level 102 (ICEHOUSE), the ball that triggers the fireball clone machine (at the spot where Chip lands after his initial ice slide) has been moved north one spot. Presumably this was done to permit you to survive the initial slide even if you start the level by moving right?

In level 120 (ALPHABET SOUP), in the lowercase-d room, you may recall that one of the three blocks has a bomb underneath it. In CC1, this has been changed to a block covering a ... water tile. I have no idea why this change was made. It seems a strange combination of tiles to permit. My best guess is that, since it is possible to get the flippers before you need the yellow key in that room, this gives you another way to solve this level. (But getting the yellow key without touching the block is hardly that difficult a puzzle, so I dunno.) Also, I just want to point out that in the process they changed the block to face south instead of north. I know it hardly matters, as initial block direction is only significant when blocks are on clone machines. But the fact remains that this is the only non-north-facing block outside of a clone machine in the entire level set. It freaks me out.


Tile World
Software
Brian Raiter
Muppetlabs