Hardly memorable by title alone, Sun Wukong Vs Robot feels like one of those forgotten 8-bit titles, found in someone’s garage then remastered for the modern systems to experience ‘a classic’.
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Only this is a new title, and it’s certainly memorable – memorable as a tough rogue-like or Metroidvania, if that’s a fair assessment in terms of genre. Don’t tell the genre police; they’re jobsworths.
It’s another indie release from publishers Ratalaika Games, and developed by Bitca and Indienova. Does it fit the template of a quick-fire casual game to stack up your platinums to show off to your imaginary friends? No. This is pretty hard.
Sun Wukong Vs Robot (PS4 Review)
Another retro title to grace my PS5 (PS4 backward compatibility) that aims to appeal to my gaming playing skills than wooing me with succulent next-gen visuals. Considering the excellent games that have been reviewed lately, many of the triple-A titles always aren’t worth the attention (ignoring Ratchet and Clank – it must be good based on the gaming community).
Anyway, Sun Wukong Vs Robot. Going back to the introduction, if it were revealed that this game first came out on the Sega Master System, it would be no surprise. To be fair, there’s something almost comforting about it, like reliving one’s youth…
Looking at the promotional artwork, you’d hope that you’d have his cloud, Jin Dou Yun, but instead, he jumps about like any platformer and alas, no double jumps or dash. By the way, if you find any of this familiar, Goku from Dragonball is based on him. Ish.
Unlike the classic Journey To The West, Sun Wukong Vs Robot is an updated version that takes place in an assumedly underground lair that’s a labyrinth of sorts. He’s been imprisoned inside and must defeat the four robot guardians to escape.
Earning Your Skills
To begin with, Sun Wukong is a little underpowered. He can bash enemies with his extendable bo staff, or throw pseudo grenades, which are in abundance, to take out enemies from a distance. For each enemy destroyed, you can earn XP to unlock new skills.
Fortunately, Sun Wukong Vs Robot isn’t a one-hit kill experience. Enemies don’t hit hard per se, but there are so many of them and a few relentless flying characters that will hound, chipping away at all the health you have, faster than downing 5 litres of coke and a packet of Malteasers.
Little orb-like fixtures can be smashed to reveal some health, as well as shields, but you’ll progress much further in this game if you take your time. I initially steamrolled through and found myself outnumbered with no health options, but being a bit more practical resulted in, well, better results.
There are a couple of strategic approaches that work. The first is big brain material as you can activate switches and manipulate the enemies, so they walk out of site, or trap them in a room for you to pass freely. The other option is a cheese method.
Though physical platforms define the level design, and the game adheres to conventional gravity like most of us, it’s quite possible to lob a grenade from a few ledges above, taking out an enemy way before you encounter them. The only issue is you’ll run out of ammo.
By taking this approach, I got a lot deeper into the maze, which is like an ambiguous version of Cathedral. You can’t plan where to go or see how far into the abyss you’ve gone, but if you stumble upon a checkpoint, you’re doing the right thing.
They aren’t hidden as such, there just aren’t enough, and further validation that playing with the doors strategically or donning your hat made of cheese will be the only way forward.
When you run out of grenades or whatever skill you’ve unlocked, the melee combat is fine, but without enemy health bars, you don’t know how many hits they will take. Sun Wukong Vs Robot ends up being a systematic application of learning movement patterns and the classic, trial and error.
Monkey See, Monkey Die
I liked playing Sun Wukong Vs Robot, but it was a little frustrating investing so much time into pre-empting battles, only to run out of ammo then stupidly dying (my fault) when trying to fumble my way forward.
Another beef with the game is enemies can attack from adjacent scenes that you can’t actually see. Sure, you can blindly attack from a distance and listen out for screams (it does work), but that’s a real shot in the dark. Literally.
That element did annoy me as the only way to see past the next scene is to walk through it, thus into a legion of lesser enemies, but with the numbers, you’ll just end up dying. There are no lives either, so when you’re dead, it’s game over, and you just have to hope the checkpoint isn’t too far away.
Sun Wukong Vs Robot Review Summary
Another decent indie title from Ratalaika, but note that despite the slower pace of the game, it’s much harder than more recent games in their catalogue. Pacing yourself in this game pays off, and though it seems like a pick-up and play retro platformer, there’s a good amount of time you’ll spend on this, making it more worthwhile.
- Classic entertainment that packs a challenge.
- A tough game that requires some planning.
- Nice music.
- Specials are good.
- Not many checkpoints on offer.
- Lacks a starting moveset, meaning quite hard to progress.
- Off-screen attacks are unfair.