Monday, September 17, 2007

Tile World

Title: Tile World
Author: Brian Raiter
License: GNU Public License

Some games hold up well with time. I recently replayed most of the Lemmings series and was amazed how well it stood the test of time. I plan on having a few more entries on the series as time permits. With a similar mindset, I decided to replay Chip's Challenge, one of the classics in PC puzzle gaming, this week. Actually, I played the free Chip's Challenge emulator Tile World.

Chip's Challenge is one of the best known puzzle games in the PC world due to its inclusion in its inclusion in the Microsoft Entertainment Pack way back when. I think I first played it on a Windows 3.1 computer and have fond memories from playing it. So, my hopes/expectations were high when I starting playing Tile World. I know this might bring some nasty email, but it just did not hold up with time.

Before going into what I did not like about Chip's Challenge/Tile World, let me say that Tile World is an impressive emulation of the original. I am really glad Brian Raiter wrote the program and for all of the fans who developed levels for it. It is just that the underlying rule set from Chip's Challenge does so many things wrong.

Here is Chip's Challenge in a few sentences. You control Chip or Chippie or whatever his name is. The goal is to collect all of the computer chips and make your way to the exit within the allotted time. Standing in Chip's way are doors, walls, ice, bombs, traps, conveyor belts, teleporters, and more. You know, the usual puzzle game items. There are switches to toggle doors, ice skates to pass over ice, and blocks to fill in holes. Then there are baddies to avoid: fireballs, bugs, blogs. The items in Chip's Challenge was clearly an inspiration for many other games.

Now the bad: time limits, levels must be played sequentially, and passwords to remember. Some levels require careful timing. Only the small area around Chip is visible. There are hidden items such as invisible walls, and if move the wrong block to reveal fire, you die. Many levels cannot be solved with thought alone. You spend a lot of time wandering about learning the level. The level design is uninspired.

For legal reasons, the Tile World distribution does not contain the original Chip's Challenge levels. But with the data file CHIPS.DAT from the original copied to the proper subdirectoy, you can play these levels within Tile World. It does come with its own set of levels in CCLP2.DAT generated by fans. These levels provide more than enough of a challenge.

Chip's Challenge/Tile World has an amazing following. Here is a small selection of the fan sites I found.
This sort of support for a puzzle game is impressive.

I feel bad giving Chip's Challenge/Tile World a bad review. I had such fond memories of playing it ten plus years ago. Some games just do not age well. Still, anyone who has not played either, should give Tile World a quick play if for historical reasons only.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Browser Games 8

I have been working hard to finish DROD: The City Beneath. It is kicking my butt. Maybe I am just getting old. In the mean time, here are a pair of physics based browser games to pass a few minutes.

Gravity Pods

A sharp aim is all that is needed. Pick a direction to send the rocket. The red gravity pods attract the rocket. The dots show the path your rocket took helping you line up a better shot next time. Latter levels require that you to place the gravity pods. There is a great deal of trial and error in


Arrange the position and angle to ramps to direct the ball to the bucket. Along the way, they add additional obstacles. First, there are the wholes which suck up passing balls. Later, these piranha things jump out of the water and capture the balls. Some levels require some careful timing to avoid them. Finally, some levels have helping hands which do not help at all. They capture balls and throw them the other way. Ramps comes with 33 levels which can be completed in an hour.