Chenso Club Preview (PS5): ‘A Throwback to the Arcade-Style, Side-Scrolling Brawler’

Developer Pixadome’s Chenso Club is set for a Summer release and at GDC 2022 I got to sit down with the supporting team from Aurora Punks and fight my way through several levels of the game. They were also kind enough to share with us the reveal video of the upcoming playable character, Alice.

What is Chenso Club?

Chenso Club is a love letter to the arcade-style, side-scrolling brawler. When aliens started invading their world, the group of girls-turned-fighters known as the Chenso Club decided to fight back, using the aliens’ life force to beat them at their own game! Think of it as a cross between the classic Mega Man series, Super Mario Brothers, and a little bit of Smash Brothers. It’s a fast-paced, unforgiving game that requires controller skills that get harder as you play along.

The game really is a throwback to games like Mega Man, but with some new elements that take the gameplay up a notch or three. The game is a 2D, side-scrolling platformer that mixes fighting and puzzle-solving fluidly. Once you clear a level, you are presented with a chance to spend your HP, your very life force, for upgrades. Now HP can be earned back once you start the next level, but if you trade fourteen of your twenty or so HP for two attack upgrades, you better be careful when you start fighting again.

There are no checkpoints in the game, and as a throwback to long-lost level design, you have to start all over again if your HP runs out and you die. I was playing on an easier difficulty simply because of time restraints, but still, I was reluctant to gamble with my life, knowing that permadeath was possible. Those of us that can remember playing games in the arcades of the 80s know how heartbreaking it can be to lose a couple of hours of hard work and have to start all over again.

Chenso Club: Alice Reveal

Currently, Chenso Club has revealed five characters, with Molly being the last one. Blue is an android who “woke up” when the aliens swarmed her lab and their life force seeped into her power core. She wields a mean chainsaw. Carmine is a royal guard who was armed with a hammer when the aliens stormed the castle. They’ve taken the king hostage, and she’s not happy about it. Plum is a witch with a powerful broom as a weapon. Molly is the World’s greatest firefighter, and her ranged attacks set her apart from all the rest. Alice is a mountain climber armed with dual climbing axes and is the fastest damage dealer in the game. The aliens probably shouldn’t have pissed her off.

Single-player and couch co-op gameplay

Chenso Club offers several types of gameplay, including single-player and couch co-op. The levels are procedurally generated, meaning you’ll get a new level every time you play. You can play in Endless mode to see how far you can get, or fight against your friends in Versus mode. Each character has their own specific weapon type and attacks. At the end of a set of levels, you’ll get a bonus round to collect power-ups. The difficulty levels range from not too bad to downright impossible, so make sure you know your limits with this unforgiving game. The music really gives the game that Mega Man feel, with the rising scores and crashing crescendos, filled with techno-pop synthesizers. Knasibas is the composer, and the anime feel is owed to that addictive soundtrack and the ’90s style of artwork.

There is no set release date, but the team told me that they are aiming for a Summer release of Chenso Club. The game is shaping up to be fast-paced and a lot of fun, in both single-player and couch co-op.