December 7, 2022

Entertaining Movies

Entertaining Movies

The Monkey King: The Legend Begins 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online

The Monkey King

The Monkey King: The Legend Begins 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online

The Monkey King: The Legend Begins is a horizontally scrolling shmup that retells the Journey to the West story that has been used countless times since its inception over 500 years ago. It’s a sort of sequel to Taito’s Cloud Master and was developed by StarFish and published by UFO. While it is certainly buried in the hallowed halls of mediocrity among the massive troves of other Wii shovelware games, it isn’t such a blatant crash grab as many of them and you can detect just the slightest hint of care by the developers. The same can’t be said for the game they created shortly after this. StarFish created a cash-in game called Saint that tells the exact same story, uses the same engine, many of the same graphics, and is basically just a reskin of this game. It’s also one of the worst games I’ve ever played and I am hard pressed to even remember any other game that was as terrible as it was. Luckily, The Monkey King, while very simple and budget oriented, isn’t nearly as bad as that one and feels more like “baby’s first shmup” rather than an attempt to defraud the consumer of their hard earned cash. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad. It’s just more of a failure on part of its creator’s shortcomings rather than them trying to cheat you. It’s like scoring a 30% on a test when you hadn’t studied but actually tried a little on test day versus not studying, not trying, but telling everyone that you were going to ace the exam.

You play as either Wukong, the titular adolescent monkey king or his female friend, Mai Mai. Both are training to become martial arts masters and have to shoot their way through 6 levels to gain the approval of their teacher. They play almost identically (other than their access to specific spells) and are really nothing more than a cosmetic choice. As mentioned earlier, the game is a horizontal shmup just like we’re all quite familiar with. You have access to a standard shot that is little more than a pea shooter but can be leveled up 6 times by collecting powerups. This will turn your pea shooter into a much wider and more powerful spread of bullets the will ravage the enemies coming your way. In addition to this, you can collect the standard speed upgrades as well as occasionally enter a door to grab a magic spell. You are able to bank two of these spells simultaneously and switch between them at will by using the A button. They range from simple bombs that you drop, fire shields to protect you, dragon fireballs, and even almost full screen laser beams. There are slight variances between which spell each of the two characters can collect, but they are mostly identical and only a couple of spells are unique to whomever you chose. These spells are very powerful and oddly have unlimited uses. You can just spam the magic button constantly and feel almost impossible to kill. There is also a pretty generous life bar that allows you to take several hits before dying. The enemy placement in the game isn’t well thought out and seems almost random at best and your character’s sprite is very large and there will be blankets of bullets fired at you with no way to avoid them. This forces you to have to take the damage since there’s nothing you can do about it. This makes the health bar a requirement for a game this poorly thought out and is a hallmark of a poorly designed game. As I’ve sarcastically stated many times, why make tight and well designed game that will allow you to learn to rout the stages while avoiding even a single hit when you can just throw a bunch of random junk at the player to increase the difficulty and let the health bar take up the slack? If you see a health bar in a shmup, be forewarned; the developers probably didn’t know how to design good bullet patterns or enemy placement. Then, when they played the game, found it to be almost impossible, so they just slapped a life bar on there and pushed the game out of the door. This is almost certainly what happened with this game as well, and if that weren’t enough, you can replenish your health by collecting the commonly occurring health potions from fallen enemies or by finishing a stage. You’re given so much health, lives, and healing items that you don’t even have to bother to dodge most of the time. If you do die, you respawn right where you were without having to worry about going back to a checkpoint. Making things even easier, there are plenty of extra lives that drop from enemies as well. Too many, in fact. I actually had 16 extra lives by the end of my first playthrough and never died once.

However, on the hardest difficulty, I did die a couple of times and discovered the game suffers from some pretty serious Gradius syndrome where if you die, you lose your powerups and the game can be extremely difficult to make any progress with. The Monkey King is no different, but since powerups are so abundant, you really only need to survive long enough to grab a magic spell and you’ll be all set to return to your normal boring method of just holding down the fire button and spamming magic. The few seconds I had to spend surviving with none of my powerups was quite difficult and practically impossible to sustain for more than a short period. This leaves the game in a situation where if you’re not fully powered up, you have no chance… and if you are fully powered up, the game has no chance. By the middle of stage 2, you’ll be fully powered up and can mostly just sit in the middle of the back portion of the screen while holding the fire button and spamming your magic attacks. Even on the hardest difficulty, you’ll pretty much just shred through the levels by doing this and it won’t take long for boredom to set in. To make matters worse, the boss fights are the easiest I’ve ever seen in a game. Almost all of them will be eliminated in just a matter of seconds and they won’t even have the opportunity to fire off a single shot. This is a big disappointment since the boring levels could have used something to break up the monotony. The bosses look cool and I found myself not attacking them in an attempt to see them do something. They have very limited attack patterns that usually consist of either a telegraphed laser beam or a rain of bullets from the sky. If you decide to not bother firing on them, they won’t do much and seem to be copied and pasted from one to the next. It really makes all of these fights feel like an afterthought rather than a feature of the game.

The gimmick of this shmup, as with almost all games on the Wii, is the addition of motion controls (sigh….). In this game, you can tilt the controller to the right to speed up the scrolling of the stage (and I guess add a little more difficulty) or tilt it to the left to slow down the scrolling and make the already insanely easy game even more so. It doesn’t really serve any true purpose in the game and feels completely shoehorned into the whole experience. I did find myself using it to try to get through the boring stages a little more quickly, but outside of using it like a fast forward button, it doesn’t do much to add to the enjoyment you’re trying to find.

You’ll play through 6 stages as you progress through the game. You’ll start at Mt. Gogyu before traveling over a river, the Great Wall, another mountain, the sky, and finally Hell. These all have the same basic enemies of pigs, foxes, clouds, chickens, etc. that are reused over and over during each of the stages with only a handful of unique enemies seen elsewhere in the game. Most enemies die in a single hit and serve as nothing more than cannon fodder. After you play through the boss rush of the final stage and dispatch the last boss, you’re rewarded by having to play all the way through the game again…. in reverse. Apparently, it isn’t enough to have to journey all the way to hell to slay the great evil, you also need to make your way back by killing each boss for a third time in a single playthrough (on the way there, boss rush, and on the way back). You get to play by facing left this time around, but other than that, the game is exactly the same and poses no more of a challenge than before. This does nothing but waste your time and make the game feel even more padded.

Once you finish the game on normal difficulty (I’m not sure if you need to do it on 1 credit because I never died) you’ll unlock Race mode. This is where you just fly through all 6 levels of the game without shooting. There are tons of speed upgrades and health potions around as you dodge through tons of enemies in an attempt to reach the finish line before the stage’s mid-boss. You will need to make use of the tilt motion controls to fly through the levels as fast as possible as you attempt to dodge enemies while grabbing those essential healing items. While I do like this idea, it’s very poorly implemented and requires almost no skill. When you die, you have a recovery period where you’re invulnerable. During this time, you can just slam on gas at full speed and fly straight through all of the enemies and pass the boss with little to no effort. I beat the whole game in race mode on the hardest difficulty in 3 minutes and 8 seconds only dying 2 times on my very first try.

The Monkey King definitely falls into the cute ’em up category as all of the character models and enemies are adorable and colorful. They are all interesting to look at and I feel like the artists on the game did a pretty good job. The backgrounds of the various stages as very muted in their color pallet, but it’s very clear that they were aiming for the subtle stylings of east Asian artwork from that period. It’s simple and well done, and while it won’t dazzle you, it does help the cute sprites on the screen pop out a little more.

The music is fine and goes for a traditional Eastern style that is really the only fitting genre for a game like this. It does have some anachronistic pumping percussion parts that attempt to add a little intensity to the game, but it’s well done and I feel that it adds a nice component to the soundtrack. As for the sound effects, they are extremely terrible. The sound of your powered up shot is shrill, ear piercing, and constant. It’s so distracting that I had to turn off all of the sound effects in the options menu to try to escape it. Once gone, the whole experience became much less painful. There aren’t too many other memorable sound effects in the game and they are mostly benign, so I’ll take that as a positive.

The game does have that trademark blurriness and washed out color pallet that was so characteristic of the Wii. To me, it hasn’t really reached the nostalgically charming level yet and just appears to be a little outdated. However, it isn’t a terrible looking game for what it is. There are some nice animations that give the characters life like Mai Mai’s flowing dress, but it does have bit of that early 2000s Flash based browser game look to it. Perhaps in 10 years, we’ll all look back on this style fondly, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

The Monkey King is a budget title that certainly does feel cheap. They recycle assets, pad out the stages, and even make you retrace your steps all the way back through the game. There’s even a typo on the back of the game’s case where, “Fight Larger Then Life Bosses” is proudly displayed. I would be more forgiving if there was at least some engaging gameplay. But it is completely lacking in difficulty that you could probably beat the entire game just by spamming the shot and magic button with your eyes closed. I played through the game 4 times in a row; first on easy and normal where I never died a single time. Then, on hard, where I only died 2 times and it was little more than a slight nuisance to recover. Finally, I plowed through the race mode in about 3 minutes. This doesn’t leave a lot of content or enjoyment to be found for your average gamer and makes the game nothing more than a mindless time killer.

It does have some cute characters but they aren’t enough to make up for the severely lacking gameplay. That being said, this game doesn’t feel like a malicious cash grab to me and has more of a game for young children sort of vibe to it. It’s kind of like if an adult played a Sesame Street game about spelling simple words or something. You can recognize the basics of of a genre that you like, but there really isn’t much gameplay there for an adult. I wouldn’t hesitate to let a 3 year old play this game, and they might actually have a good time with it. However, if you’re older than 3, there really isn’t much here for you.

The Monkey King: The Legend Begins 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online