Chuck’s Challenge 3D Review

Gaming

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Chuck’s Challenge 3D
Developer: Niffler Ltd
Publisher: Niffler Ltd
Platform: Android, Linux, Mac, Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: November 1st, 2013
Price: $9.99  – Available Here

Overview

Chuck’s Challenge 3D is the spiritual successor to the classic retro puzzler Chip’s Challenge. Creator Chuck Sommerville was unable to create Chip’s Challenge 2 due to lack of cooperation with the rights holders of Chip’s Challenge. Refusing to give up, Chuck turned to Kickstarter to raise funds for Chuck’s Challenge 3D. The game is currently available on Desura and has been Greenlit on Steam.

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Story

Chuck’s Challenge 3d has a loose plot about a little alien named Woop who has kidnapped a game developer to create him challenging puzzles to play. It just so happens that Woop kidnapped the perfect developer, Chuck Sommerville himself! The rest of the plot are humorous and short interactions between Woop and Chuck that also provide some small tutorials about game mechanics. The interactions are cute, funny, and completely family friendly. The interactions appear every time Woop steps on Chuck’s Hawaiian shirt. This would not be a huge problem if it was not for the clumsy controls that will have the player jumping on the shirt accidentally during the course of the game. For those who prefer to just keep the game about the puzzles, the story can be disabled in the menus, which will disable the shirts.

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Gameplay

Chuck’s Challenge 3D sticks to its roots as a 2d puzzle but presented with 3d graphics. The game can generally be broken down to finding the correct order of operations to clear the puzzle elements until Woop can jump into the swirling gate that marks the end of the level. There are a lot of different elements that are found in the puzzles to slow the player, from switches that need to be thrown and slick ice patches that need to be crossed. The puzzles are surprisingly deadly to Woop as anything from pools of water to moving cubes can kill him. Death is not permanent as a handy undo button will rewind Woop to the previous step. If the error made was too early in the chain of events, the puzzle can simply be restarted in the menu.

The developers have provided the first 125 puzzles in the game. The first 25 are pretty easy but the difficulty level takes a sharp jump from there. Chuck’s Challenge 3D will definitely test the player’s intelligence with its blisteringly difficult puzzles. To add another challenge, players can also race the clock for top position in the leaderboard. Luckily, there is penalty for using the undo feature except for the time it takes to use it.

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The game also ships with a full-fledged level editor that will allow players to create their own levels and play user created levels uploaded to the servers. The level editor itself is extremely easy to use. Levels can be expanded and shrunk with a few taps and gameplay elements are placed using a drag and drop system. Every week features a new high quality puzzle created by the community. Between the 125 levels provided by the developer and the limitless levels created by users, Chuck’s Challenge 3D has an incredible replay value.

Chuck’s Challenge 3D’s controls are a challenge on its own. The common controller for Windows is the Xbox controller. Out of the box, the right thumbstick will move Woop left and right even though the game is set to respond to the left thumbstick for movement. The WASD/Arrows and float controls work much better, but are still far from perfect. Getting Woop to stop is difficult, often resulting in moving further than intended. Usually this will cause generous usage of the undo function. The other control options are not much better. The pathing for the tap control is absolutely miserable and only works reliably if Woop is able to move in a straight line. The pad controls don’t work at all on PC and are most likely are remains from the Android version of the game (Editor’s Note: The developers have pointed out that the Pad controls are not a remnant, but work on touchscreen PCs and tablets running Windows 8). Overall, the terrible control scheme make Chuck’s Challenge 3D look like a messy and hastily done port of the Android title.

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Visuals

Chuck’s Challenge 3D has a great cartoon style. It is bright and colourful, perfect to attract the eye of both the young and young at heart. Most gameplay elements are easily discernable, though those with colour blindness should be aware that some puzzle elements are colour based. On the hardware front, the game runs very well on the PC.

Audio

The first noticeable thing about Chuck’s Challenge 3D on PC is how loud it is, to put things lightly. There are only two volume options for the game, ear blasting loud or mute. There is absolutely no middle ground to be had here. The game desperately needs a volume slider as I found myself lunging for my headphone amp’s volume knob once the game boot up. The music and sound effects are actually enjoyable once the volume is tamed. There are an enjoyable variety of accompanying music and the sound effects are well made. Unfortunately, the loud volume meant I ended up muting all sound in the game after a while.

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Overall

Chuck’s Challenge 3D has the right tools to be a great puzzle game worth of being the successor to Chip’s Challenge. However, the lack of control over the audio levels and the disastrous controls prove that the game feels like a messy Android port. The game is in desperate need for patching and optimization for desktop platforms. For gamers who are willing to endure its shortcomings, they will be rewarded with an incredibly challenging and fun puzzle game.

6-5-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

Geek, Gamer, Student, Foodie, Fountain Pen & Notebook Lover
  • Barnabas Cleave

    Chuck’s Challenge 3D is a tile-based puzzle game, like Chip’s Challenge, which explains why the game works the way it does, including the controls.

    If your reading this you’re more than likely going to know what a puzzle game is, however you might not know what a tile-based game is. Tile-based video games come from board games like Chess & Checkers. They are about moving pieces around a board, from one square to another. However here comes the subtle but very important part. You can only move pieces into whole squares, or to put it another way you can’t put a piece on a line and have it on two squares at a time. Each piece moves from one square to another.

    Chuck’s Challenge 3D was designed from the beginning for four inputs: up, down, left & right. This maps to a keyboard really well with either W, A, S & D or the arrow keys. So when you press a key, Woop will move a square. For example press up and Woop will move up one square. This sounds simple but actually what you are doing is plotting one move ahead, because once you’ve pushed up you can’t stop until your in the next square. It’s not like an analogue control, where you can let go and the character will stop. So you have to swap your brain from thinking analogue controls to digital tile-based movement.

    • Laike

      I probably should clarify what I meant by stopping on a dime. While I do understand that the game is a tile based movement system (I actually found the easiest way to control the game by just tapping for each move I wanted to input, which I found to be annoying and rendering the default controller settings useless), I think the window of time to register the movement when a key is held down in relation to Woop’s animation needs to be changed to be a little more conservative. In my experience, the controls seemed to favour erring on moving forward the extra tile versus stopping short when the movement key is released.

      What I would like to see is if Woop is already starting to move towards the next time while the button is being released, I would prefer a greater window of opportunity for Woop to simply return to the square he is already standing on, versus Woop immediately running for the next square. This will give a better chance for people to react to dangers like moving enemies or instant death tiles. As much as tapping on keys for each specific movement works for WASD/Arrow controls, it doesn’t work nearly as well for the other control schemes provided in Chuck’s Challenge 3D.

      • Barnabas Cleave

        Keyboards or digital control pads are one of the best control solutions due to their digital nature. However with Microsoft releasing more and more touch-screen only PCs and tablets, our beta testers asked us to keep the touch-screen controls in the game. That way the players have the freedom to choose the best controls they have available to play with.

        There is a window of opportunity, but as Woop can’t go backwards, the window is the first half of the square Woop is entering aka the point of no return is the centre of each tile. If Woop goes past this point, he’ll move to the next square. Woop can’t go backwards.

        • Laike

          Fair enough, I am more than willing to point out that the pad controls are touchscreen only in the review. (Edit: An Editor’s Note has been added to the review pointing this out)

          However, I still believe the point of no return needs to be changed. I feel like changing the point of no return closer to tile borders would be easier to handle.

          • Barnabas Cleave

            Then it would no longer be a tile-based game, meaning the puzzles wouldn’t work. Hence why you have to swap your brain from thinking analogue controls to digital tile-based movement and plotting a move ahead.

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