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   Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure - Staff Retroview  

A Repetitive Adventure
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure
PLATFORM
PSP
BATTLE SYSTEM
1
INTERACTION
1
ORIGINALITY
2
STORY
2
MUSIC & SOUND
2
VISUALS
3
CHALLENGE
Very Easy
LENGTH
10 Hours
OVERALL
1.5/5
+ A cute, spunky red-headed heroine.
+ Bright, colorful visuals.
+ A quick, simple play.
- A shallow, dry plot.
- Major lack of variety in combat.
- Repetitively repetitive.
Click here for scoring definitions 

   The 2007 PlayStation Portable release of Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is a port of a 2004 PC action RPG by the same name. Developed by Falcom and published by Mastiff, this cute title features pop-culture references, simplistic controls, and an in-game camera that puts the villains' efforts to kill the main character to shame. It is more along the lines of a introductory action RPG for those new to the genre rather than a game that will thrill veterans, though it would not be the best example of a good first action RPG. Gurumin is a short and repetitive adventure that spends more time being cute than monstrous.

   The story begins as the game's young, red-haired heroine, Parin, ventures into a dull mining town to visit her Grandpa. In a panic after discovering the town has no other children for her to play with; she goes off to verify this claim. She meets a variety of middle-aged townsfolk including a baker that wants to be her best friend and a miner that wants to date her. Just as she is losing all hope, Parin finds a young girl hiding from the town dog. This young girl informs Parin that she is a monster that grown ups cannot see, and that there is a monster village just a short distance away. Parin follows her to the village and finds a mysterious drill that she pulls from a stone in the vein of Sir Arthur. As Parin ventures off to try out her new drill, the monster village is attacked, destroyed, and most of the occupants are kidnapped by the wicked Phantoms. The rest of the game focuses around Parin rescuing the monsters and restoring the village. The plot has few twists, which are very anti-climatic. The dialogue is stale, humor is forced, plot advancement is slow, and character development is non-existent, making Gurumin a rather dry adventure.

You Should Listen to Him He's Got a Point

   Gurumin's battle system offers as much variety as the game's town: very little. The only weapon that Parin has at her disposal is her drill. The drill gains power levels the more it is used up to a maximum of level 3, and it loses power as Parin takes damage. She can learn special attacks throughout the game, but most are difficult to pull and even more difficult to accurately aim. Thankfully, regular drill attacks are sufficient enough to complete the game, as it is extremely easy. Only the game's bosses offer any sort of challenge, but even those are not painfully tough. Basic enemies are fairly simple and are made even more so by taking advantage of elemental effects that can be modified on the drill such as ice and fire to exploit enemy weaknesses. Players progress through Gurumin by completing levels in order to access new ones. The greatest challenge in progressing is dealing with the unresponsive camera angles and suffering through repetitive levels, as many areas are merely repeated in reverse. Puzzles are mind-numbingly simplistic, requiring no critical thinking and offering no challenge.

   Clearly, the greatest villain in Gurumin is the game's interaction. The camera is the main villain, effecting controls significantly, but the game's basic controls have many issues. Making accurate jumps is difficult, hindered greatly by the camera, and picking up items and coins is inaccurate. Aiming while performing basic and special attacks is also challenging to execute. Between the camera and the rest of the controls, doing almost anything in the game an exercise in frustration.

Encouraging Very Encouraging

   Gurumin's presentation, both visually and audibly, is decent and conforms to the theme of cuteness that is prevalent. The music is cheery, but is repetitive and unexciting. The quality of the voice acting is adequate, but most of the lines are over the top and can become annoying very quickly. Visually, while the graphics are not poor quality, they offer little variety. The game's few NPCs are unique, but there are too few of them. Enemy designs are very uninspired and are reused far too often; only the few bosses offer a unique visual style. There is nothing horrendously wrong with Gurumin's overall presentation, but at the same time it does little to enhance the gaming experience.

   Gurumin is simple, offering very little challenge within the game's normal mode. There is also a beginner mode that will make things even easier by assisting the player with jumps. A harder mode is available after completing the game, so that can help. This harder mode should have been made available from the start to give action RPG veterans more of a reason to play. Parin's adventure takes very little time to complete, lasting around ten hours for a complete playthrough which is required in order to view the game's actual ending. That time estimate will be shortened if players rush through and pass on 100% completion. Overall, Gurumin is lacking that something special that would allow it to stand out. It offers nothing new in terms of the action RPG genre and what it does offer falls below expectations. Gurumin may be a monstrous adventure, but it is not a very memorable one.

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