Monkey King Hero Is Back is a linear action adventure game based on the Chinese mythology of Sun Wukong, aka Dasheng.
After being freed from a five hundred year imprisonment by a human boy named Liuer, Dasheng finds himself unable to access his power. The adventure focuses on the quest to do good things like fighting monsters and saving children in order to earn Dasheng’s power back, later a big bad appears, pretty standard stuff.
Liuer and another companion that you get are some of the most annoying I’ve ever seen. A pair of annoying voices that shout “monsters” every time combat starts. They don’t help in combat and are just there for story purposes. Thankfully you don’t need to protect them and they don’t get in the way in combat. The story cutscenes did interfere with the flow of the game, including some boring walking sections where Liuer talks at you in a not very interactive section. The cutscenes were weird as some were properly animated while others were basically slide shows. And for some reason using a ladder required a short cutscene as well.
There’s not a lot of enemy variety in the game. Green monsters, monkey men and automatons are the main three, plus some flying creatures. There’re four boss fights other than the final boss, none of which are particularly interesting and all of them are like facing the more basic enemies, using the same sort of dodge, hit and button bash tactics. One of the bosses is the worst dragon fight I think I’ve ever seen with little more than button bashing being needed, the dragon doesn’t react to attacks or need any strategy to be beaten. There are moments when the combat is a standout part of this game with basic monsters giving opportunities for powerful reactive Purge attacks or One-on-ones which have a variety of animations and are a vital part to adding strategy to most combat instances rather than just having Dasheng go in swinging.
The final boss is probably best described as irritating. He just stands around taking hits before flying to the top of a tower, then as you reach him he flies back down again. That’s repeated multiple times until it finally lets you do a One-on-one to end the fight. Then we get to see Dasheng at full strength, flying and shooting fire at the boss who has transformed into a big toothy worm monster, this bit was a surprising change to the game pace which made defeating the boss much more exciting and satisfying.
There are collectibles. They are scrolls which give a little lore and info about how to defeat different enemies. There are also little fat things called Earth Gods which are invisible collectibles that can be exchanged for better stats (more health, magic or damage).
Overall, I liked this game. It’s not one I’m likely to go back to now that I have the platinum trophy but it was quite fun once I’d gotten into it and the combat felt reasonably good, even if it was basic. I could return to previous levels without the annoying companions and just enjoy something simple that didn’t have any noticeable glitches or problems. If the flow of the early game was better I could have called this one good. As something cheap to pass the time with a small bit of thinking involved, it’s alright. It’s a style of game that we don’t see much anymore but I do enjoy these linear, simple games.