The King of the Swingers always used to be King Louie from The Jungle Book. With his band of loyal followers and big bunches of un-ripened bananas, the wily old so-and-so caused mayhem and carnage for everyone in the jungle. But today there's a new pretender to the throne, and this time he's the hero. Well, at least in theory.
Monkey King is a traditional platform game, involving a monkey, who's a king, that floats on a cloud. Such a set-up would satisfy the publishers of most mobile games, but not Monkey King's publisher, Ikkyou. Its men in white coats have added an army of dragons to the mix – dragons that are after our little simian friend, and the result is an 'interesting' game aimed at the whole family.
Now, at first glance it may appeal more to the younger audience, being cutesy, colourful, and simple in design. But, as it could never be described as an easy game to play, Monkey King's appeal is actually much broader than it first appears. Or, depending on your point of view, much narrower.
At the heart of this confusion lie the controls. Pressing in any direction on your phone's thumbpad will move you, the Monkey King, that-a-way. Only trouble is, the Monkey King carries on moving as his momentum carries him along, instead of stopping when you tell him. This means edging to the end of a wall or a ledge in order to time jumps can be very tricky. It does get easier after a fair bit of practice, but it's still fiddlier than it should be, and it takes away from the enjoyment of leaping from platform to platform.
That puts a crimp on proceedings, as the main aim of Monkey King is to jump across platforms and climb up and down ladders whilst dodging dragons, collecting all the fruit and golden items you can without being burnt to a crisp by the fiery fiends.
Some of the fruit is wedged into hard to reach corners, making gathering it akin to scraping out the last few smears of chocolate spread from the bottom of the jar with a knife that's just a little bit too short. However after a few attempts – and maybe the odd squished ape incident – you should get to grips with timing your jumps. Eventually.
Visually, Monkey King has more than its fair share of bold, bright characters that wouldn't look out of place in a pre-school cartoon. The scrolling and animation all do the job, and although never bordering on the spectacular, there is a certain charm to proceedings. The music is also on the basic side, rather than the symphonic, but it helps set the scene, as do adequate sound effects.
But to be honest, if you're after a fun, playable platform game then there are better options out there (Pitfall Jungle, King Kong and Sonic The Hedgehog come to mind) that will satisfy a craving for jumping on things without Monkey King's control gripes. It's okay once you get going, but Monkey King just doesn't spark the imagination sufficiently to make up for its shortcomings. And it's probably too tricky to handle for most of the younger players that it apparently so wants to please.