The side-scrolling beat ’em up genre is going through somewhat of a revival at the moment, and like so many, Chipmonk! takes inspiration from one of the oldest of them.
Putting players in control of one of three chipmunk warriors, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, Chipmonk! is essentially Golden Axe but with animals. The fearsome Death Adder is replaced here with the Gray Squirrel, and its minions include everything from badgers to hedgehogs. Despite this twist, however, not enough has been done to make the gameplay feel fresh, leaving Chipmonk! feeling too much like a blast from the past.
Like the original Golden Axe, your moveset here is very basic indeed. One button slashes at enemies with your weapon, performing a combo if your hits are successful. Another is used to pick up items such as logs, which you can then throw at your enemies. And should you have some vials of magic, a third button can be used to perform a mighty screen-wide spell. Add in the ability to jump and dash, which can both be combined with attacks, and that’s your lot.
As ever, crowd control is of the utmost importance here. It can be tricky, though, as your foes are pretty sneaky and will use every opportunity to move around to your rear when you’re busy attacking another. They’re keen to grab and throw you when you’re in range, too, and with some being much bigger than you, they have the advantage when it comes reach. The result is a side-scrolling beat ’em up that feels a little cheap at times, making it very challenging indeed.
Related: Games Like Streets of Rage on PS5
Unfortunately there are no difficulty levels, though you do get a number of continues to at least give you the chance of making your way through Chipmonk!’s numerous levels. You occasionally encounter some imp-like enemies that release magic and health consumables if hit, too, again mimicking Golden Axe. Co-op play is perhaps the biggest boon here, though; with two players, everything becomes more manageable.
For those who do get on with Chipmonk!, there’s a fair bit to go at. There are multiple campaign modes, for example, an Onslaught mode where players can see how long they can last before being bested by enemies, and a Duel mode. For its low asking price it’s pretty generous.
For fans of the side-scrolling beat ’em up genre, Chipmonk! is likely to be an interesting curio. After all, how many other games allow you to take control of warrior chipmunks battling against a range of other animals? It does feel rather dated though, very much taking inspiration from the true classics of the genre and not having ambitions to further them in any way. The result is a game that will be a hard sell for many, especially if they’re not instantly drawn in by the animal shenanigans.