I was trying to come up with a list of my favorite levels, but realized that it's really hard to do because I like different levels for different reasons. There are levels I enjoy playing through quite casually, levels that are challenging to play through, levels that are great fun to optimize, and levels that take a lot of planning to solve. I'll try to explain each of these categories in more detail the reasons I enjoy those levels. I won't list examples because each category can still contain so many different types of levels, that I don't want to restrict myself to just calling out a few past favorites. And of course it would take a lot of time :-)
Levels I enjoy casually
These are levels that I can just play through when I have about an half hour of spare time. They don't require a lot of thinking to solve, but I still might encounter some puzzle elements. There usually is some dodging but not so many dangerous parts that I keep dying numerous times. These levels are elegant, to the point, and most often quite short. Playing these levels just makes me happy! If a set would only have this types of levels in it, I wouldn't mind at all, and it might even be one of my favorite sets. It would even have great replay value, because once I play through them once, I won't remember them completely but can go back and enjoy them again. I'm glad to see that quite a few of the new level sets have some of these levels. These are mainly the types of levels I'm hoping to find in CCLP1.
Levels I enjoy playing because of the challenge
These are the levels that might take several minutes to solve even when knowing the solution. They often multiple puzzles and areas, but don't get stuck in one task. To succeed in this category, the level also has to have some design elegance, and not just be a mess of convoluted tile arrangements. I need to see some design skills! Sometimes a level can have some overarching theme that tie several different puzzles together. These levels can incorporate difficult maneuvers, but they also give the player some respite from the action to think about what needs to be done next. Many of the last quarter of levels in CCLP3 fall into this category, but playing through several of them in succession is quite a task. However, for me, this doesn't take away from the fact that as individual levels they are enjoyable and well designed.
Levels I enjoy optimizing
The best levels to optimize are the ones where I know I've reached the maximum. Of course then someone comes along and beats the score by one second! But that's okay, because every once in a while, I get to be that person too! Finding that one nifty trick that others have missed is a great experience! Well anyway, I find that many of the levels that are enjoyable to optimize can summed up into one word: short. If a level takes longer than two minutes to play, it's very likely that optimizing it boarders on arduous. I like to work on one level for maybe an hour or two, and if by then there's still many avenues to explore, I lose interest. Even at this shorter end of the spectrum, routes can require cleverness and insight. I really like it when I understand how a level functions and why things work. I'd assume it's difficult to set out to design a level that would be great fun to optimize, but often enough this is a side product of an otherwise fun level.
Levels I enjoy solving
Then there are the levels that are super hard puzzles. I love these. I don't want these levels to be filled with tricky timing or extra knobs, but rather they should translate a logic puzzle into the language of Chip's Challenge. The epitome of a level in this category is one where I can print out a map of the level, stare at it for hours and then come back and complete it with one try. (Sadly enough, this has happened.) The level shouldn't be just about block pushing, but it seems to often be a major part of these levels just by the nature of the game. There's not too many of this types of levels around, but perhaps that's only a good thing, as long as there are some. It's great to find a couple of these every year, so if you can think of a tough puzzle that works nicely as a level, please share it with me!
In the end it's the levels that make up this game I spend a lot of my free time on, so I'm happy to notice that there are several types of levels that I like. I need all types to get my CC fix, but not all in the same quantity. Thanks to everyone out there who has managed to create enjoyable levels for me to play!
Next week I'm going talk about the things I've been up to since the new year with Chip's Challenge.