Beat-’em-up comebacks are everywhere right now. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Streets of Rage. Double Dragon. Yet there’s a beloved SEGA classic that is sorely missed. Golden Axe is often cited as one of the pioneers in the genre, and yet we haven’t had a new title since 2008’s poorly received Golden Axe: Beast Rider. Well, Hiemi Bros Entertainment are here to change that. You’ll find out exactly how in this Chipmonk! review.
Everything about the gameplay mechanics screams Golden Axe. The choice of three characters – each following the gameplay styles of the original three Golden Axe heroes – the singular attack button, jump attack animations and magic potion collection feel almost identical. The throw mechanics. The enemy patterns. The boss fights. Even the sound effects; everything here stands as a modern homage to the ’90s classic.
This homage does of course work for better or worse. Chipmonk! isn’t a simple copy. The formula has, thankfully, been modernised quite a bit. The slow stuttering pace of the original Golden Axe is presented here in a much slicker fashion. However, being caught by an unavoidable charge by an off-screen enemy is never fun.
The game offers three gameplay mode: Adventure, Duel and Onslaught. Adventure is where most of your time will be spent, but the others are nice asides nonetheless. Duel offers a straight-up two-player versus, while Onslaught is a single-screen survival mode.
Adventure is further split into two modes, Classic and Revengeance. Metal Gear Rising influenced naming aside, Revengeance is essentially aping some Golden Axe II mechanics. A map showing progress between levels, detrimental items and additional power-ups. It’s a nice addition to the game, but doesn’t break the mold.
The Chipmonk! review has largely concentrated on how similar the game is to Golden Axe, and frankly that’s because there’s no avoiding it. It has modernised the formula more than you may realise if you’ve not played the original Golden Axe in recent years, but it still suffers from many of the same flaws. The visual design however, is frankly fantastic. It’s hard not to love Chipmonk!‘s chunky pixellated sprites and basic animation. So if you’re looking for that retro flavour the game may well be worth your time. However, it’s hard not to address the fact that there are better scrolling beat-’em-ups on the market today.