06th Dec2018

Digital Shorts: ‘Monkey King: Master of the Clouds’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Monkey King: Master of the Clouds – a remake of an 80s shoot ’em-up available now on the Nintendo Switch.


Based on the old MSX game Chuka Taisen, Monkey King: Master of the Clouds is based on the classic Chinese folklore tale of Monkey (as in Journey to the West) – who, if you watched the TV show of the same name back in the 80s, was born from an egg on a mountain top and traveled across China fighting evil at every turn. If you also remember from the TV show, Monkey used to fly around on a cloud…

I tell you this because Monkey King: Master of the Clouds is actually a shoot ’em-up, a hard-as-nails shoot ’em-up may I add, that sees you fly around blasting ancient Chinese demons from the comfort of your cloud. For those of you old enough to remember, this game was actually released outside Japan on the Sega Master System under the title Cloud Master and this release of the original arcade version actually reminded me very much of THAT version of the game – only I’m sure that version wasn’t as bloody difficult as this one!

Yes, it’s another old-school game that seemingly proves the theory that games these days are easier than they used to be “when I was a kid”… Or maybe not. Monkey King: Master of the Clouds isn’t difficult per say, but it does favour repetition and memorising waves and formations as they appear on screen. Remember those days, when you couldn’t afford a new game every week (or in my case every month even), so instead you played the same game over and over and over until you had it down pat? Well that would REALLY help you here, because without memorising how each wave comes at you, you’re pretty much guaranteed an early death!


Visually Monkey King: Master of the Clouds looks absolutely stunning. The arcade-perfect pixels mixed with the colourful graphics and eclectic characters means that, whilst you might be infuriated by the gameplay, you’ll be blown away by the visuals. If you’ve ever played Pop’n Twinbee or any of the Twinbee franchise for that matter, you’ll know what to expect from this game graphically (think cute) – although you won’t be expecting some of the weird and wonderful characters that inhabit the world of the Monkey King.

Difficult and sometimes infuriating, in an old-school “just one more go at beating this boss” way, this is one of those shoot ’em-ups that has seemingly been forgotten to time, yet deserves to be up there with classics like the aforementioned Pop’n Twinbee, Gradius, R-Type et al. If you’re a shmup fan you owe it to yourself to grab a copy of Monkey King: Master of the Clouds right now. Go on, go get your Switch and get downloading!

Monkey King: Master of the Clouds is available on the Nintendo eShop now.


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