By Guy Rainey / April 17th, 2014
|Title||Chuck’s Challenge 3D|
|Publisher||Nkidu Games, Inc.|
|Release Date||Feb 28, 2014|
Chuck’s Challenge 3D is a challenge based puzzle game. It’s about getting your player character to the goal, and getting rid of whatever is in your way. It’s certainly not a new idea (it is the spiritual successor to Chip’s Challenge, an old PC game by the same creator), but an old idea done well can still be worthwhile. So, let’s take a look at it.
Here’s the plot. Chuck is a game designer who has been abducted by the alien Woot. Rather than wanting to dissect him or impregnate him, Woot wants Chuck to design challenges. Woot loves challenges, and will even let Chuck borrow his robot servants for those challenges. Yeah, it’s kind of funny, but the plot is more setup than anything else. It works as an excuse to have a puzzle game, I guess.
There are two types of puzzle games. For the first type, you must figure out exactly what the designer was thinking and replicate that. Games that fit into this type are Legend of Zelda, Professor Layton, and the like. The second type gives you a set of tools, and tasks you with figuring out how you want to solve the puzzle. This’d be games like Tetris, Dr. Mario, and Luna’s Wandering Stars. Chuck’s Challenge 3D fits squarely into the first category. There’s precisely one solution to every puzzle, and you’ll need to figure out exactly what that is.
There are five sets of puzzles, each with twenty five puzzles. You’ll be given a set of five puzzles of which you only have to solve three to unlock the next set of five, so if you get stuck, you don’t necessarily have to complete every puzzle. And you probably will get stuck.
The problem I have with this type of puzzle design is that, if you can’t determine exactly what the designer was thinking, you won’t be able to solve the puzzle. Some of these puzzles really give no hints as to how you’re supposed to solve them. Trial and error doesn’t always work. Sometimes it feels like the game outright cheats.
I don’t want to give the impression that every puzzle requires such and such a move to win. While a lot (maybe most) do, there are some puzzles that give some amount of trial and error. Most of those will let you brute force your way through, thanks to the game’s rewind button, which lets you take back any number of moves you’ve made. You’ll make liberal use of the button.
The controls are really bad. It doesn’t matter whether you use a keyboard or a controller. You’ll often move further than you intended. Unintentionally falling off the edge of the stage and moving a block further than you intended are both common. A controller is your best bet, since having all the functions like rewind, restart, zoom in, zoom out, and rotate the camera right in your hands is much better than the keyboard configuration. With keyboard controls, those necessary functions are all over the place, making it hard to hit the rewind button when you need it. Having the rewind button is handy for when you slide over the edge of the stage or need to reset a block after you bumped it.
In terms of presentation, the game is fine. It chugged a bit at top resolution, but it ran smoothly after I set the resolution down. I wouldn’t say music or graphics are spectacular, but they work well enough most of the time (took me forever to figure out that the bombs aren’t apples, though).
Even as I finish articulating my various problems, it’s hard to say I really hated the game. I just never really was able to figure out the developers thought process on some of these puzzles. Since trial and error experimentation is rarely effective, I got frustrated in many places. Plus, the slippery controls didn’t help matters. It took me about 6 hours or so to get through the game’s base content, and while there is a comprehensive level creator (giving the possibility for unlimited user generated content), I’d still say that the base game is so weak that it’s a pretty hard sell. Maybe if you really like block moving puzzles, you can give it a shot for $9.99, but otherwise stay away.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Review based on the PC version of the game
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