Action Platformer Review Rogue-Like

Chenso Club – Review | Five Warriors

Oftentimes, games that aim to capture some sort of 16-bit nostalgia can be hit and miss. The simple things need to be tight and there needs to be a coherent vision. As such, I was a pinch apprehensive about Pixadome’s Chenso Club. So did it make me feel young again, whilst also engaging my 30-some-old year self?

Heralded as an “action-packed, side-scrolling platform brawler”, Chenso Club sees you adventure through distinct levels, utilizing various attacks, items, and abilities to ward off an alien invasion. There are five characters to choose from, each with their own unique playstyle, ensuring no run is ever the same. What we have here then, at least at first glance, is a traditional 2D brawler. However, Chenso Club offers so much more, almost guaranteeing you’ll want to sit with this game for hours on end.

Chenso Club - Agents

Friendship, Fans, and Aliens?

Chenso Club doesn’t waste time. Aliens are attacking and time is of the essence! In a last-ditch effort to mount a defense, a blue-haired android with chainsaws for hands is activated and this is our first playable character — named Blue. You need to defeat the aliens and make it to a castle where the king has been taken hostage. From here, you proceed through wonderfully vivid 2D levels, each with their own risks and rewards, searching for a way to save the world. For every boss or “nemesis” you defeat, you unlock a new character that you can then use on subsequent runs. These girls form the Chenso Club, the planet’s protectors, and hopefully saviors.

The story is told through anime-inspired comic panels and occasionally dialogue with NPCs that you’ll meet throughout the levels. As things progress, this seemingly standard story of good versus evil transforms into something wholly original and engaging. Subjects such as the power of friendship, loss, mourning, and rejection all come together to form a grey area that has you, as a player, questioning who are really the baddies here. It’s a plot that thickens and evolves in a brilliant way. Never feeling contrived and always beckoning you to keep playing, it has you forming attachments to each of the girls in one way or another.

The world itself is divided into five levels which you can jump into at any time. The final zone is accessed by playing a little way through one of the earlier ones, culminating in a frantic rush to thwart the main antagonist’s plans. The levels look and function like something from the classic era of 2D gaming, but with the polish and quality of a modern gaming engine (Unity in this case). With bright colors, flashy platforming, and a soundtrack that could put Sonic the Hedgehog to shame, Chenso Club starts as it means to go on: a classic brilliance that adopts only the very best elements of its retro influences.

Chenso Club - Story

Your Squad — Your Playstyle

The core mechanics of Chenso Club are simple, but always fun. You have the combat of a brawler. The light attacks can be chained, but the heavy attacks offer unique strategies. The attacks are also directional, giving you the opportunity to control the battlefield both on the ground and in the air. You can unlock five characters to play as, each serving an approach to combat and level navigation to suit different players.

Blue, the primary character, is a balanced fighter. She’s fairly fast both in terms of movement speed and attacks and her chainsaw hands can be used as helicopter blades to reach those places that a simple jump would fall short of. Blue is the ideal all-rounder.

Chenso Club - Carmine

You then unlock Carmine (who became my personal go-to). She’s a fair bit slower than Blue, but her huge hammer pulverizes enemies, dealing big damage and even bigger shockwaves. Carmine can also spin her hammer rapidly, causing her to rise up through the levels, smashing into any enemies in her path — what Carmine lacks in speed, she makes up for in raw power.

Plum is the witch of the group. She’s nimble, using her broom to float round levels and swing at opponents. Interestingly, Plum’s strong attack is devastating when used effectively. She casts a ball of dark magic, tagging any critter that it hits. Press the heavy attack button again and those tagged will explode, with the blast dealing damage to anything nearby. 

Alice joins the club next. A hardy adventurer from an icy land, she utilizes dual pickaxes and a grapple. Whilst being extremely agile, her grapple allows you to grab onto an enemy, pulling yourself towards them to unleash a barrage of strikes with the pickaxes. Certainly the quickest of the bunch, I personally found her the most tricky to use though that’s not to say I won’t be practicing with her again at some point. 

Finally, there’s Molly. A mysterious young firefighter who uses a powerful water blaster to dowse enemies. Her strong attack refills the tank with water, which she can also use as a H2O-propelled jet pack to zip through levels. Whilst nowhere near as fast as Alice, the mobility afforded by her water gun makes Molly a character for players who want an aerial advantage. All girls considered, the variety present here successfully gives players the chance to find their own way through the game.

Chenso Club - Ice Level

Brawling aside, there’s a little roguelike element to this game. Whilst you can drop in at any level, the longer you survive and the further you progress increases the damage you receive for each new area you get to. Also, your health doesn’t recover for each new zone. Fortunately, when you take damage, you have a very brief window to regain some life essence and heal just a pinch. Enemies can also drop life essence once felled, giving you chance to recover. You can also spend health at the shops that pop up throughout levels, but once you realize that you’re not going to get a full heal, progression becomes a balancing act of knowing when to keep what you have. That said, once you see the Game Over screen, the run ends, and you’re given stats that reflect how well you did for that run.

Mixed in with all of this are the game’s bonus stages. Some see you jumping and smashing your way through a side-scrolling gauntlet, trying to fill a gauge with blood. Fill up the gauge enough and you can unlock three chests, each of which provides a higher reward the more blood you gather. Chenso Club features its own social networking platform called “Chirp”. Upon completing a level, you have to pose for photo opportunities whilst trying to dodge star-struck fans. The more points you score, the more followers you gain. However, Chirp also provides you with the chance to earn gifts which then become accessible in the levels. If you interact with certain NPCs in the right way, they will follow you on Chirp. Login to Chirp between levels to see what your new fans have to give you. 

I should also mention that there is the option to connect multiple controllers and co-op — this is sadly something I didn’t get to try, though I’m determined to rave about this game until my friends relent and join the Chenso Club.

Brawling to Excellence

At this point, it may seem like there’s a myriad of ideas competing for attention in Chenso Club. The thing is, the devs have done such an impeccable job of integrating everything into their core idea that all the combat, platforming, and mini-games are a joy to play. Clearly Pixadome are a team that care about their craft, because Chenso Club oozes passion for this old-school style of experience. It goes without saying that I adore the way the game looks, but as soon as I got to the tutorial and the music kicked in, I was grinning from ear-to-ear. I was a grown (perhaps that’s debatable) adult that felt as though I had just been sent back in time — the visuals, stellar sound design, and simple yet diverse combat system had me hooked within a matter of minutes.

I loved the characters, both in terms of gameplay and as protagonists. They all have a role to play as humanity’s heroines and I genuinely couldn’t get enough. If I failed a run, I couldn’t wait to try another character and experience things again through a different approach. I can’t compliment the pace of the game enough. The high-octane action interspersed with a great story and addictive mini-games made for the most fun I’ve had with a title in a while. I completed the story in just under seven hours, though I don’t feel done with Chenso Club yet and with 13 of 26 achievements unlocked, it’s clear I have more to do. More importantly though, it’s clear there’s more that I want to do!

Special mention goes to the boss battles too. They can be chaotic and challenging, but no matter which girl you play, you never feel the hurdle is insurmountable. The distinct combat styles of each character give you everything you need to string together some flashy combos and press on to the next level. Bosses are mechanically fun and conceptually well designed.

Chenso Club - Boss Battle


In the name of objectivity, I ought to mention some aspects of Chenso Club that I didn’t feel so positive about. Take that with a grain of salt though, because there genuinely isn’t a lot wrong with this title.

Firstly, as my controller is out of order, I played on mouse and keyboard. The controls made the platforming sections (particularly in the last level) a bit of a nightmare to play at times. The heavier characters would fall miserably short of simple jumps, whilst the more agile characters would often totally overshoot the destination. I suppose the platforming in Chenso Club demands accuracy that I simply couldn’t achieve on a mechanical keyboard. This has not deterred me though and I imagine with a controller, this issue wouldn’t be as prevalent.

Another minor gripe I have is the character selection. It would be a nice (albeit not necessary) inclusion if the player could switch characters during a run whilst retaining the difficulty scaling. I only say this because on my first playthrough, whenever I unlocked a Chenso girl, I immediately wanted to try them. This is such a tiny criticism though and it in no way diminished the fun I had. When a game is this good, it could only really get more fun. 


Chenso Club comes with the highest of recommendations! Seriously, if you like retro games with a modern flare, get this game! The overwhelming sense of youthful glee that Chenso Club filled me with from the moment things kicked off is something I can’t see being surpassed any time soon. 

From start to finish, this game was a joy to have experienced. 


Platforms: Steam (PC)

If you would like to see more platformers, you may be interested in our review of Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX 2.

Many thanks go to Curve Games for a PC review code for this title.

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