Sun Wukong vs Robot pits the titular Sun Wukong against the also titular robots. Those of you that are familiar with Chinese mythology may recognise Sun Wukong from the epic Journey to the West. However, even if you’re not up to date on your Chinese myths, you’ll probably still recognise the iconic monkey king from the myriad of other media he has appeared in. From live action TV shows like Monkey, to anime like Dragon Ball (Son Goku is inspired by the character), to movies Journey to the West, even to other games like Unruly Heroes.
There is no shortage of media around the character. However, despite the prolific use of the character, I’m not sure how many times (if any) he has been pitted against robots until now. Sun Wukong vs Robot as the name implies is such a game, you’ll control the monkey king in an effort to defeat 4 evil robots, take their gems, and escape. But escape from what? Well, in the opening cinematic (which has a distinctly retro flavour), Sun Wukong fights valiantly but is eventually defeated and imprisoned by the evil robots.
The game picks up hundreds of years after this point, where the monkey king must defeat the robots, take their gems, reclaim his powers, and escape from whatever facility he is in (evil robot lair? warehouse? Amazon fulfillment centre?). To do this, you’ll have to explore the facility, fight a lot of robots, and regain your powers.
To begin, Sun Wukong has his trusty pole weapon and the ability to jump. That’s it, but not for long. Shortly after you begin, you’ll find the first of his missing powers, which comes in the form of a projectile arc fireball. However, as much as it resembles a fireball, it’s actually some sort of ninja attack. What do I mean by ninja attack? Like a shuriken maybe? Nope, when the fireball connects with something you’ll see a tiny ninja like character that attacks, complete with a Bruce Lee style exertion scream.
The special attack deals less than half the damage of your regular attack and is a little hard to aim at times, but you can attack more rapidly and, providing you are good at estimating the arc, you can kill a lot of enemies without getting all that close to them, especially as it can travel through some obstacles even walls.
But this also leads me into a bit of a negative, the backgrounds. While the art-style is very pixel-retro and simplistic, sometimes it is hard to tell what you can and can not jump on. In addition, sometimes you, your enemies, and their projectiles are a little small on the screen which makes things difficult for timing. But overall, it’s not too big an issue when you get used to it.
The bosses are where the design really shines, from a sort of knight with a wolf companion to a Rockstar grim reaper, the bosses are an interesting and diverse bunch. Along with the abilities that Sun Wukong can gain, which are generally references to his canonical skill-set (including his famous gourd bottle), you can upgrade his abilities with experience points that you gain from killing enemies. Grinding for experience is also fairly easy with enemies respawning as you leave the screen for you to harvest their experience as many times as you need.
Other than the use of a somewhat notable character, Sun Wukong vs Robot is a fairly standard throwback to the original Metroid style of game, with some shades of Megaman thrown in. This is, however, a compliment. While it may not add much of anything to the genre as a whole, it’s a solid use of the template. The controls are responsive, the difficulty is there but not obstructive. It’s not overly long or complex, but it should keep you entertained for the runtime.
Overall, it’s just a fairly solid old-school Metroidvania for fans of the genre. It may not have the flash of say Guacamelee or Hollow Knight, but it doesn’t feel like that was the intention anyway. If you’re looking for a classic NES or Gameboy-style game, you could do a lot worse than Sun Wukong vs Robot.
Use of thematic powers for the character
Boss designs are interesting
Sometimes too much happening on screen
Too simplistic to have lasting impact
Graphics maybe too authentically retro
Not much in terms of music, adds to the starkness of the black backgrounds