For those who don’t know, Monkey King Hero is Back is based on the famous Chinese tale “Journey to the West” and features the Monkey King, Sun Wukong.  Monkey King: Hero is Back is developed by Chinese based developer, HexaDrive in conjunction with Sony Interactive Entertainment, and published by Oasis Games.  The Story of Monkey King: Hero is Back, tells the tale of the Monkey King’s fall from grace, before he ascends in his story of redemption. In a nutshell, he angered the gods, and was imprisoned by Buddha, for stepping out of line.

The Monkey King was free to roam between heaven and Earth, but made certain arrogant demands, and Buddha was not happy with his insubordination – resulting in Sun Wukong being sealed away in a mountain for 500 years, stripped of his powers. This is where we find ourselves at the start of Monkey King: Hero is Back – monsters have invaded a village, and kidnapped children. A young monk, Jiang Liuer accidentally frees our hero, having been chased into the mountain by monsters. Our hero is told by the gods that he can only get his powers back if he does good deeds on earth, thus leading him to become a reluctant aid to the boy monk.

 

As you begin your journey, Sun Wukong is quite sluggish, as he has been imprisoned for 500 years, so you will start off with basic controls – light & heavy attacks. You are able to pick items up such as rocks and tables in order to attack enemies, and the tables can also act as a shield, throwing these items towards enemies from a distance is also possible, and is crucial against some of the bosses in the game. Being chained up is restricting the Monkey King’s magic – you do start off with some basic powers, but you won’t be able to level them up and unlock more until you reach the end of the first stage.

Defeating this boss will unlock more abilities, and you will get the opportunity to level-up more throughout the stages by visiting statues. These statues require magic reserves – each level-up is worth a certain amount, and these reserves are built up each time you defeat an enemy. The manner in which you defeat these enemies also determine how many reserves you will get. In terms of levelling-up your magic reserves, and health bar, you can do so by visiting the Earth Gold Elder. Throughout each stage, you will find small dolls, called Earth Gods. These Earth Gods are to be exchanged when you visit the Earth god Elder, where you can level up the aforementioned health & magic bars.

In addition, you can also increase your combos. As you advance through to the latter part of the game, you are able to return to earlier stages by visiting the statue mentioned above. This is so you can retrace your steps, and collect any Earth God dolls you may have missed initially, as well as levelling-up Sun Wukong further as you enter the final stages of the game. Additionally, there is a general store which is available throughout each stage – these stores allow you to exchange the items you collected to make potions. These can be magic to boost your reserves, or medicine to refill your health.  In terms of fighting monsters, be aware, as certain types have spikes, and if you hit the spike, you will take damage. You can also counter attack enemies, when you have successfully completed a counter, you will enter a one on one situation, where you will be required to quickly tap the light attack button, and Sun Wukong will finish the enemy off in style!

 

The Monkey King: Hero is Back animated movie from 2015 featured English dub provided by legendary Chinese martial arts action star, Jackie Chan as the voice of Sun Wukong. Sadly however, the game doesn’t, and we are treated to a rather odd choice of an actor with a Cockney accent. It was quite off putting at first, but as you progress, it does start to warm on you. The soundtrack and effects were jointly provided by Tokyo based studio Noisycroak & Shanghai’s Vanguard Sound, and to be honest, both are really good, and fit the aesthetic of the game rather well.

If you are a fan of the movie like myself, then Monkey King: Hero is Back is the perfect companion – it expands on the world created by October Media perfectly, and is a lot of fun. If you are a newcomer, then you may find the experience a little dated – the visuals aren’t fantastic, but bear in mind they were made to look like the CG animation movie of 2015. Overall, Monkey King: Hero is Back is a love letter to its animated movie counterpart, and with more content to come in the form of two additional episodes courtesy of  its season pass, it gives fans such as myself a lot more to look forward to. The characters, combat and world make this game an experience not to be missed, and even if you have never seen the movie, you may just surprise yourself at how much fun there is to be had.



Author

Lee Shellum
Lee Shellum

I've been playing games since the late 80's, started with the Spectrum 48K!. First console was a NES. Used to work for GAME & Gamestation many moons ago. Big anime fan - Dragon Ball & One Piece mainly. I'm also into Manga, Football (Liverpool FC) & WWE. I'm a former Bandai Namco Entertainment Forum moderator and was a part of their J-Patrol team. I love the Yakuza series from SEGA, and most anime games. You can follow me on twitter @Shellum_Lee