Niemi Bros Entertainment
Niemi Bros Entertainment has found it’s way to Xbox for the first time. This small studio consists of two brothers, Andrew and Jonathan, who have a love for video games. With the help of QUByte Interactive for the publishing part, they have their entry into the Xbox market through Chipmonk!, a typical old-skool brawler.
Make war, not love
Wow, a gluttonous gray squirrel has decided to steal all your food. And not just yours, no the entire nation’s food stores are empty. This means starvation and famine. You are going to deal with this situation the best way you can. You are going to war and get back that food. Luckily you, as a chipmonk, are adept at martial arts. As the character Grey, Cheeks, or Red, you are going to take on the numerous numbers of enemies you’ll encounter. So grab a snack and let’s fight.
At the start of the game you get to choose in which mode you are going to fight. First of all there’s a classic arcade mode. This is your typical side-scrolling beat ‘m up. You start on the left side of the world and the screen is blocked as long as there are enemies to defeat. When you have defeated that particular wave of enemies, you can progress further to the right.
Secondly there is a duel mode. You can get a friend over and beat each other up to your hearts content. Finally there’s Onslaught, which is a survival mode. You are battling an endless number of enemies and will have to survive as long as possible. At the beginning only one scene is available. As you progress through story-mode you’ll get more scenes to choose from.
Your moves got moves
If you’re familiar with these type of games you might know Golden Axe. A retro brawler with hacking combos, jump moves, dashing attacks and a powerful magic attack. To be able to use this last attack you had to collect bottles of magic potion. When you had collected enough you could unleash a powerful magic blast clearing the screen of enemies.
Chipmonk clearly pays homage to Golden Axe and uses the same set-up and feel. In this brawler you are in the possession of a basic attack (swinging a club and you’ll be using it a lot), a dodge move (rolling) and a powerful magic attack (only after eating enough mushrooms). Only thing different, in Golden Axe you didn’t get to play with squirrels.
Choosing your character is of no real consequence. There are three characters to choose from. Gray is your run off the mill fighter. Nothing really stands out. Cheeks is your heavy set brawler. Slow, but powerful. And lastly there’s Red, a fast fellow with less power.
Choose the right monk
It would have been nice if these character traits would be making a real difference in the game. Unfortunately that’s not the case. The only real difference I noticed, was that Cheeks is indeed quite a bit slower as the other characters. Power, magic, dodging were all the same for all three characters.
When fighting enemies most of the time you’ll create a sort of slug-fest. Spamming the button for your standard attack. It will do two things: 1) continuously hit your enemies, 2) on occasions pick up your enemy so you can throw it (Yes, you can throw it against other enemies and hurt them.). At the beginning of the game you’ll get away with this type of gameplay. There not that many enemies and they don’t attack as often as you’d expect. Later on in the game, you’ll have to make good use of the dodging ability and your jumping ability to avoid getting teamed up by your enemies.
After you have defeated a number of enemies during the level, you’ll meet a number of flies you are supposed to hit. Be aware these buggers are pretty fast. When you do hit them they drop a mushroom that fills up your magic meter. This will let you perform a powerful magic attack. As you’ll only encounter these flies once every level, make sure to save your magic attack for times when most needed.
Annoying little buggers
Ok, note of caution. When playing these type of games, you will encounter annoyances. The most evident one is the fact that your enemies can easily gang up on you and combo the living shit out of you. Worst thing is, that you can’t do anything about it. There is no combo-breaker or counter attack.
There’s also the really, really, really sneaky part where you can’t reach an enemy, but he can definitely reach and hurt you. Sometimes you are hit and have no idea where that came from. Well, that’s easy. It came from off-screen. There are parts of the game where enemies can’t be seen because they’re off-screen, but can still hurt you. You on the other hand can’t hurt them because they are off-screen…. Doesn’t sound fair does it? You’d better come to grips with it, because that’s part of these games.
Chipmonks is by no means an easy game. It has a steep difficulty curve which will result in loads of Game Over’s. It also has very limited options to stack the deck in your favour. There is no setting you can use to increase your number of lives, no difficulty settings. If you’re up to the challenge this can be a very fun game. If you don’t like frequent Game Over’s, you’d better skip this game.
It’s the sound of weirdness
The music in this game is ok, but not spectacular. It doesn’t leave a lasting impression, but it is by no means bad. The things I thought were really weird, were the sound effects. For example, when you deliver a finishing blow to your enemy, for some weird reason you will hear the sound of a gunshot. This is especially weird as you are not wielding a gun….
After you have delivered said finishing blow, heard the weird gunshot sound, you’ll also be entertained by the ultimate death-cry of your enemies. A wailing sound I’ve never heard before from any type of animal.
Chipmonk is an average beat ‘m up / brawler. It doesn’t go out of its way to be innovative. It looks back at successful beat ‘m ups and copies their strong points. I enjoyed the homage to Golden Axe, but it could have been better.
- Homage to an old-skool staple: Golden Axe.
- Controls work like a charm. No glitches, hick-ups, or screen freezing.
- You get to play with squirrels!
- The cheesy, annoying cheap shots enemies can deal. (I know it’s part of these type of games, but it’s still annoying as hell.)
- It doesn’t matter which character you choose. No real difference in abilities during gameplay.
- Weird sound effects.