“10 Legendary Chinese Folklore Heroes Who Are Ready to Battle in Your Favorite Video Games”

Continuing my evergreen series on video games and folklore, and in preparation of my forthcoming book p, Video Games and Folklore (…I know, clever right…), I thought it would be more fun to basically serialize my book into a blog format and continue posting key chapters broken down to their essentials: basically top 10 of folklore inspired video games from X of Y culture. Last time we ran through the heavy learnings of Japanese favorites like Mario and Pokémon, now we’ll shift to more obscure IPs such as Smite and favorites like League of Legends.

Here are my top 10 video game characters inspired by Chinese folklore:

  1. Sun Wukong – Journey to the West (series). One of the most iconic characters in Chinese mythology, Sun Wukong (also known as the Monkey King) has appeared in numerous video games, from the classic arcade game “Monkey Magic” to the action-packed “Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.” He’s known for his incredible strength, speed, and agility, as well as his ability to shapeshift and use his magical staff to fight off enemies. From Warriors series to Street Fighter, Smite to the upcoming Game Science’s Black Myth, Sun Wukong remains a fan favorite and most approachable. I mean, who isn’t hooked on all the fan fiction and manga and anime and Netflix series?
  2. Guan Yu – Dynasty Warriors (series) Guan Yu was a general during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, and has since become a revered figure in Chinese mythology. In the Dynasty Warriors series, he’s portrayed as a mighty warrior who wields a massive crescent-bladed glaive and can cleave through hordes of enemies with ease.
  3. Zhang Fei – Romance of the Three Kingdoms (series) Another legendary general from the Three Kingdoms period, Zhang Fei is often portrayed as a hot-headed warrior who charges into battle without a second thought. In the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, he’s known for his powerful spear attacks and his ability to rally his allies with his booming voice.
  4. Zhuge Liang – Dynasty Warriors (series) A brilliant strategist who served as a key advisor to Liu Bei during the Three Kingdoms period, Zhuge Liang is often portrayed as a wise and cunning figure in Chinese mythology. In the Dynasty Warriors series, he uses his intellect to outmaneuver his enemies, setting up ambushes and traps to gain the upper hand in battle.
  5. Nuwa – Smite Nuwa is a goddess from Chinese mythology who’s known for creating humans out of clay. In the MOBA game Smite, she’s a powerful mage who can use her abilities to manipulate the elements and deal massive damage to her enemies.
  6. Zhong Kui – Arena of Valor Zhong Kui is a legendary figure from Chinese mythology who’s known for his ability to capture demons and spirits. In Arena of Valor, he’s a tanky warrior who can control the battlefield with his abilities and protect his allies from harm.
  7. Nezha – Warriors Orochi (series) Nezha is a god from Chinese mythology who’s known for his incredible speed and agility. In the Warriors Orochi series, he’s a lightning-fast warrior who can dart around the battlefield, striking his enemies with lightning and fire.
  8. Bai Suzhen – The Legend of Sword and Fairy (series) Bai Suzhen is a snake spirit from Chinese mythology who falls in love with a mortal man. In The Legend of Sword and Fairy series, she’s a powerful mage who can control water and summon snakes to do her bidding.
  9. Qilin – League of Legends Qilin is a mythical creature from Chinese folklore that’s often depicted as a deer or unicorn with scales and antlers. In League of Legends, he’s a support champion who can heal his allies and shield them from harm.
  10. Da Ji – Smite Da Ji is a villain from Chinese mythology who’s known for her cunning and deceitful nature. In Smite, she’s an assassin who can use her abilities to jump in and out of combat, leaving her enemies reeling from her attacks.

That’s my top 10! Chinese folklore is full of fascinating characters and stories, and I’m sure there are many more video game characters inspired by it that I haven’t included here.

Da Ji – I’m almost positive this comes from the ancient source text, couldn’t possibly be an over sexualized iteration… oh no that’s right, it’s an objectified retelling thanks to Smite)


  • “Journey to the West” by Wu Cheng’en
  • “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” by Luo Guanzhong
  • “Smite” by Hi-Rez Studios
  • “Arena of Valor” by Tencent Games
  • “Warriors Orochi” by Koei Tecmo
  • “The Legend of Sword and Fairy” by Softstar Entertainment Inc.
  • “Dynasty Warriors” by Koei Tecmo
  • “League of Legends” by Riot Games

Get this, there’s a popular joke in Chinese culture about how the Monkey King got his name. Legend has it that when he was born, he was given the name Sun Wukong, which means “monkey awakened to emptiness.” However, his mischievous nature got the better of him, and he caused chaos in heaven by stealing the peaches of immortality and causing a ruckus. When the Jade Emperor ordered his capture, he used his shapeshifting ability to transform into a bug and hide in the palm of the Buddha’s hand. The Buddha then revealed him to the Jade Emperor, saying, “This is the monkey you’re looking for.” Thus, the Monkey King got his name, and the phrase “this is the monkey you’re looking for” has become a common saying in Chinese culture to refer to someone who’s causing trouble or mischief!

Statue of Guan Yu in Jingzhou Park



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