Saiyuki: Journey West is a tactical role-playing video game released for the Sony PlayStation by Koei. It is based loosely on the popular Chinese novel Journey to the West. The game's Japanese title is simply Saiyūki (西遊記), which is the Japanese name Journey to the West.
It follows the basic outline of the plot of the novel, in which the main character, a Buddhist practitioner named Sanzo, travels from China to India on a religious mission and has a variety of adventures along the way. The game also features several other characters from the novel, including Son Goku, the monkey king. In contrast to other renditions of the story, the game allows Sanzo to be played as either a male or a female character at the player's choice.
A gameplay twist is that every character except Sanzo can transform into a monstrous form for a limited time. Instead of transforming, Sanzo has access to summon spells that each boost the party's stats in different ways for a number of rounds and allows him/her to use an extra spell at will. Furthermore, each character has a native element that powers their spells and weakens them to opposing elements.
The game softens the original story, with most of the heroes' negative characteristics removed, and most of the villains surviving at the end.
Characters in recruiting order.
Sanzo - Portrays the righteous Buddhist monk, based on Xuanzang. His/her element is Nature.
Son Goku - Portrays the rebellious Monkey King, Sun Wukong. His monster form is a giant fire-breathing ape, and his element is Fire.
Cho Hakkai - Portrays the lustful pig demon, Zhu Bajie, here rendered as childlike and food-obsessed, with an overall goal of becoming a great chef. His affiliation is Earth. He transforms into a monstrous humanoid boar.
Shu Ryorin - Haughty but kind-hearted daughter of the King of the Eastern Dragons, on the run from her father and a forced marriage. She fights the party before joining, because she thought her father had sent them to capture her. Her monster form is a powerful bronze dragon, and she is consequently aligned with Metal. Based on Long Nu
Sha Gojo - Portrays the man-eating sand demon, Sha Wujing, here an intellectual human cursed with monstrous fish-like alternate form. He's ashamed of his monstrous nature, and at first rejects the party's help before Sanzo (and his/her refusal to see his/her friends as mere "monsters") convinces him to join. His element is Water.
Lady Kikka - A dryad-like spirit who is found trapped in her tree. Her monster form is a giant humanoid butterfly. Like Sanzo, her element is Nature.
So Kinrei and So Ginrei - Twin girls accidentally transformed into monsters during the course of the story. Their monster forms are identical giant humanoid golems with oddly technological attacks (including missiles and lasers). Their elements are Metal.
Chin Genshi - Grandfather of Lady Kikka, and formal teacher of Cho Hakkai. He may or may not join the party, depending on Sanzo's actions. Like his granddaughter, his element is Nature, and he transforms into a tree-like form.
Reikan - Ryorin's fiancé, who is trying to get her back. Starts out as an enemy, and will only join the group if the Sanzo says the right things to him during previous meetings. His element is Water, and he transforms into a turtle-demon.
Taurus and Tessen - Portrays the Ox-Demon-King and Jade-Faced Princess from the novel. They start out seeming to be the main villains (though neither are really shown to be truly evil, just petty and bad-tempered), before plot developments cause them to reform and join Sanzo's side. Their monster forms are a minotaur-like bull demon and a humanoid scorpion respectively, and their elements are Earth and Fire.
Lady Kikka is not based on any characters from the novel, but is made up for this game.
Lady Kannon, Guan Yin, Bodihisatva who guides Sanzo throughout the Journey