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Video Game / Saiyuki: Journey West

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Saiyuki: Journey West is a 2001 Playstation Strategy RPG by Koei, based on Journey to the West and heavily inspired by Final Fantasy Tactics.

You play as the monk Sanzo (Xuanzang, though you can choose Sanzo's gender) on an adventure loosely inspired by Journey to the West.

This game provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Badass: In the original story, Xuanzang was a Non-Action Guy who got kidnapped a lot. This game's version of Sanzo, while still the physically weakest member of the party and lacking the Super Mode transformations the others have, compensates by being able to summon giant floating Bodhisattvas and use their attacks (like, for instance, summoning a giant sword the size of the battlefield to cut an enemy in half). And they're not averse to simply whacking the enemy with their Magic Staff either.
  • Adaptational Context Change: In canon, the reason demons are pursuing Xuanzang is because, as the reincarnation of Golden Cicada, eating his flesh will grant them immortality. In this game, the demons pursue Sanzo because they want their Magic Staff, which was given to them by Lady Kannon.
  • Adaptational Heroism: All the main characters are much more heroic from the start than their counterparts in the original story.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Some towns are very, very rough on people who can turn into giant nearly-invulnerable supermonsters. Also, bandits have a curious propensity to attack your group even though by the end of the game it can include multiple gods.
  • Canon Foreigner: The game added or replaced a few characters.
    • The dragon-princess Shu Ryorin is only very loosely based on Yulong, the dragon who serves as Xuanzang's horse in the original, and draws more directly on Longnü, an unrelated figure from Buddhism and Chinese mythology.
    • Lady Kikka was entirely invented for the game.
  • Combination Attack: After joining your team, So Kinrei and So Ginrei can execute one of these called Arrowstrike. If Ginrei shoots an enemy with her bow that is on an adjacent square that Kinrei is facing, Kinrei will instantly perform a sword attack against them as well.
  • Composite Character: Lady Tessen is based on Princess Iron Fan, but her scorpion Were form draws in elements of the Scorpion Demoness as well.
  • The Cynic: Sha Gojo takes a very dim view of humanity on account of being outcast as a monster.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: The usual way of recruiting the optional party members, but most prevalent with Lady Tessen and Lord Taurus.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Each character has an element in the Chinese five-element system, which determines which spells they're best at, which they're strong against, and which they're weak against.
  • Fantastic Racism: Weres, people who can turn into monsters, are feared by the rest of society. Sha Gojo has experienced this effect far too often.
  • Gender Flip:
    • You can choose to have Sanzo be female, flipping her gender from Xuanzang's in the original story. Since Xuanzang was already the feminine emotional type, it doesn't change very much, thematically speaking.
    • So Kinrei and So Ginrei, the two little Were girls that transform into giant ogre robots, are based off of the Gold and Silver Horned Kings in the original story.
  • Gratuitous English: The intro video's song (unlike the rest of the game) is undubbed and mostly in Japanese, but its chorus is nonetheless a somewhat Narmy repeat of "Magic soul Goku! Magic soul Goku!" over and over, in English.
  • Guardian Entity: The Guardians, unsurprisingly, are this, summoned to float over Sanzo's head, providing bonuses to nearby allies as well as a special attack.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Town blacksmiths can only upgrade the party's weapons up to Lv. 5, but one side quest will give the reward of Star Ore, which can upgrade one character's weapon up to Lv. Max, granting it extra power, stats and even extra abilities. However, there's only one Star Ore available, so only one character in the party can get their strongest weapon per playthrough.
  • Killer Gorilla: Son Goku's Were form is a Killer Gorilla that, especially in the opening cinematic, almost qualifies as a (recursive!) Shout-Out to Dragon Ball Z.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Were forms of So Kinrei and So Ginrei are giant robotic ogres, which make use of missiles, lasers and guns in their attacks.
  • Mr. Exposition: Son Goku generally serves this role when it comes to the supernatural on account of being the most worldly member of the party and the one who knows the most about celestial politics.
  • Mugging the Monster: Bandits have a somewhat unfortunate tendency to try to waylay your party when you're doing delivery mission sidequests, and never seem to run away, even though your group can contain multiple highly-recognizable gods, has members who can turn into dragons or Kaiju-level giant apes, and can summon angry floating Bodhisattvas to murder your enemies with swords. Some of the dialog at the start of such encounters lampshades how unfortunate the bandits were to choose you as a target.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: When you want to have one of your characters transform into their Super Mode, you have to spend points off your transformation meter, which cannot be refilled in battle, to perform any of their attacks; run out, and they turn back to normal. When you fight an enemy who transforms, of course, they'll transform at the start of battle, spam their strongest attacks for free, and remain in their Super Mode for the entire fight.
  • One-Winged Angel: All of the Eight Devils have their own Were transformations. Mahoraga becomes a Feathered Serpent, Vala becomes a monstrous rat, Apsara becomes a spider lady demon, Yaksa becomes a horned, winged demon, Nagini becomes a dragon like Shu Ryorin (and it's said they're both from the same tribe), Deva becomes an armored, sword wielding demon general, Garuda becomes a fiery phoenix-like Roc Bird, and Asura becomes a six-armed, three-faced giant that practically acts as his own boss arena.
  • One Degree of Separation: Chin Genshi is both Lady Kikka's grandfather and Cho Hakkai's mentor.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Each piece of Emperor equipment can only be found on one unrevisitable boss stage. If you miss even one of them (aside from the last, which for some reason isn't necessary), you also miss out on Sanzo's best summon. And the later ones don't even appear in the first place if you fail to get the Emperor's Helm and then take it to the blacksmith in Yuimen.
    • Leave an area without mastering all of its dojos, and you'll never be able to get the strength-increasing Gallant Ale.
    • Likewise, leave an area without finding all its ingredients (which can only be found by visiting shops), and you'll miss out on Chef's Paradise, a spell for Cho Hakkai.
    • All of the optional characters can be missed by progressing past the Point of No Return for the chapter they're recruited in. Also, some of them can be lost without any indication of why just by doing levels in a weird order (basically, whenever the path branches, always play up to the point it rejoins itself before you go back to explore the other branch.)
  • Powers as Programs: Elemental spells are kept in scrolls, and by just equipping the right scroll, any character can cast any spell as long as their rating in the correct element is high enough.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Prince Reikan, the intended of the Rebellious Princess Shu Ryorin as below, whom she sees as a Stalker with a Crush. If he is beaten and both Sanzo and Ryorin are truthful with him, he'll continue his devotion by joining the party.
  • Rebellious Princess: Shu Ryorin, who fled home to avoid an Arranged Marriage.
  • Sixth Ranger: Lady Kikka, who the only member of the main party with absolutely no grounding in the original story or Chinese mythology whatsoever, is also the last one you recruit by a significant margin.
  • The Smart Guy: Sha Gojo (Sha Wujing), who in this version is an intellectual human cursed with a monstrous transformation ability.
  • Summon Magic: Sanzo can summon Buddhist Guardians, who float overhead and provide a persistent bonus to your entire party for three turns, in addition to giving Sanzo a free special attack based on their abilities for the duration. There is one Guardian for each of the five elements in the system, as well as one more that is Sanzo's best summon.
  • Super Mode: Every main character except Sanzo has the ability to transform into a giant Kaiju form in combat, though only one member of your party can transform at once.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: Sanzo's shakujo staff, which Lady Kannon gives to them at the start of the game and can house and summon the Guardians. The Eight Devils also want the staff and that's why they keep pursuing Sanzo and the party.