I swear, if I see the words “Retro styled” on any more games in the next few weeks, I’m not going to be responsible for my actions.
What we have here, in the shape of Chenso Club, is a retro styled side-on platform action game. Coming from developers Pixadrome and published by Aurora Punks & Curve Games, Chenso Club does seem, on the surface, to offer something a bit more palatable than the usual fare of Mega Man rip offs and Castlevania wannabes. So, come with me to the world under alien attack, and let’s see what Chenso Club has to offer to our discerning gaming palettes.
First off, let’s deal with the story. There has been an alien invasion, and it seems as if this has happened at a time when a bunch of X-Files looking dudes were standing around a tank, wondering how to bring the lone figure inside back to life. As the aliens invade, one ends up dying in the tank, and the alien life force proves to be just the jolt that Blue, the heroine we begin with, needed. She is then sent on a mission to rid the world of the nasty aliens, slurping up their life force when she is feeling a bit low; generally she turns out to be an all-out killing machine. Thus is the scene set for an epic showdown, and even a twist in the tale!
Presentation wise and Chenso Club works the side-on view, and while the backdrops do vary between the levels, they are not of immediate interest. The heroine, Blue (and all the other heroes we can unlock throughout our journey) are a well designed bunch, each with different play styles that may help or hinder you. The enemies are a varied bunch too, ranging from flying weirdos in plate armour helmets to ambulatory cauldrons, and pretty much everything in between. Ever been attacked by a cloud? Well just you wait! The bosses that we fight are also well designed and thought out, with patterns to learn and decipher if you are going to come out on top.
I’ve been very impressed by the sound too – there is a proper retro style running through the soundtrack, and plenty of impacts pushed out as various attacks are inflicted on the nasty ol’ aliens. All in all, the presentation of the game is good, and this attention to detail is replicated in the rest of Chenso Club too.
First and foremost, this is very much a platform game, and as such has all the usual platform game tropes in. Jump? Check. Dash? Check. Air dash? Check. You will soon be jumping, dashing and attacking around the screen like a bluebottle on Red Bull. Fortunately the controls are pretty much up to the task. I say pretty much only as when I was playing the last few stages in the fourth world, there were times when my heroine refused to jump. Going down a platform and then back up, cured the problem, but it was a bit weird for a minute.
The core mechanic of Chenso Club is that when you load into a screen, the aliens are dotted around the place, and you can’t move onto the next screen until they are all dead. This normally involves some tricky parkour; flying over gaps to bullseye the last alien soon becomes par for the course. The combat has a nice feel to it, and with various power ups available, you can try to make the run last as long as possible by getting stronger.
There is a ton of extra stuff to do in the game as well, which is always nice to see. You can meet various NPCs who will usually set you a task, be that clearing all the rubbish off the screen for the janitor, or surviving without running out of time for Mr Time. If you complete these tasks, these NPCs will become followers on an in-game social network called Chirp. As you go though the game, you will accrue some gold things (no idea what they are, to be honest) and when you log into Chirp, you can use these to buy perks from your followers. The most useful is the chance to revive, as Chenso Club is very much a one shot game – if you die, that’s it, game over, start the whole level again. As you can imagine, it is a bit galling to die to the boss and then have to start all over again.
As you go through the levels, you will also get other chances to take part in wacky extras – like the Cool Bus that challenges you to fill a vial with blood, by either picking it up or by killing aliens. These levels are quite fun and can give you some useful power-ups, so this is a useful way to spend some time. The other thing that pops up is a shop, where you can again buy various power-ups, but in exchange for your life force. Do you buy that extra weapon, or do you go into the boss fight with a bit more health? Choices, choices.
Chenso Club is, despite the retro stylings, very enjoyable. The heroines are all very different, the challenge is real, and you can play couch co-op to see just who is the greatest alien squasher in your house. If you are looking for a retro styled platformer, then Chenso Club is the one that you should give a chance to.
Chenso Club is on the Xbox Store