Born From An Egg On A Mountain Top

A few of the more savvy readers will know exactly where this is going from the title alone, the less fortunate of you will be wondering what the hell is going on in his depraved mind this week!  I shall, as always, attempt to illustrate with words just what is in my head this time around and it relates to one of the most wonderful games I’ve played in a long time.  First, we must travel back in time, approximately twenty or so years, to a dark autumn night – usually a Friday.  The streets were quiet, the cathode ray tubes were fired up and youngsters across the country were transfixed by one of the most badly dubbed programmes ever.  The next day the streets would be filled with us kids and our imaginary staffs, that we kept behind our ears and our clouds we could fly about on, yes!  We were all gripped by “monkey magic”.

Sandy, Monkey, Tripitaka and Pigsy from my era

Monkey was a Japanese television programme of the 70s-80s and visualised an ancient story called “Journey to the West” where a mischievous monkey is released from imprisonment by the monk, Tripitaka, and made to help with a pilgrimage to retrieve ancient scrolls.  Along the way they meet up with cast out angels, Sandy and Pigsy, and indulge in some classic martial arts action.  The story had morals and the like but all we were interested in were the fights and flying clouds, it was always destined to be remembered fondly by my generation.  Of course with all the martial arts and epic storytelling it was ripe for a game and plenty were made, mostly Japanese only over the years and any that were released over here, I never noticed.  That is until 1999 when a game called Monkey Hero was released for the PSone, here we had a cute wee cartoon representation of the Monkey I knew and loved from my childhood.  The game was a top down adventure and was very much in the mould of the Zelda games of the time, with you tackling one room at a time, it wasn’t hugely deep or engaging but it fired up some pleasant memories of the past.  And then they were forgotten.

Aww, a wee cute monkey… that maims with a stick!

Jump forward eleven years and I was browsing the Xbox Marketplace when I came across the demo for a game I’d never really heard of: Enslaved.  I downloaded it and never played it at first, I was too caught up in whatever else I was doing, so it was a week or two before I got round to giving it a bash… I nearly spat my cornflakes out!  How had I missed this one?  I have been quite prone recently to missing out on the hype for some truly great games, but missing out on this is unforgivable!  Basically, Enslaved (subtitled “Odyssey to the West”) is a modern re-telling of the monkey legend with added mechs and plasma blasts.  I was immediately taken in by the gorgeous visuals, I was impressed with the gameplay and more than anything I was grinning like a Cheshire cat when I finally clocked on to the fact that it was monkey.

Tripitaka, Monkey and Pigsy for the modern generation.

Enslaved is a million miles away from the Monkey programme I used to watch in terms of how the whole thing is presented, instead of Asia we are in the USA, instead of a flying cloud it is a flying disc, instead of ancient lands it is futuristic post apocalyptic wastegrounds.  None of that matters though, what matters is that Enslaved is one of the surprise gems of the year, well written, an engaging story, decent pace, great visuals and a story you just have to see to the end.  In the time of huge games being released in the run up to Christmas, this is sadly a game that may get lost under the deluge of bigger hitting names.  A real shame, because as a gamer, you owe it to yourself to play through Enslaved at least once, but once will never be enough.  When you do eventually finish it, watch the original TV series and see just what you have been missing all these years.







One response to “Born From An Egg On A Mountain Top”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    I remember Monkey from a kid but for some reason I had never watched it, only see the odd minute of two of it here and there. So it did not carry any weight to my decision to buy Enslaved as what I had seen of it I liked, even though I thought I wasn’t going to bother with it.

    It currently is waiting to be played and was delayed due to replays of Dead Rising 2. With Fallout New Vegas tomorrow and Fable III next week, I think it will be a while before I get to play Enslaved, but with all the positive comments I’ve heard people say about it, I will look forward to it.

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