Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is the kind of game that is easily thrown by the wayside. When it launched in the US on PSP in 2007, well, the existing interest in the platform wasn“t exactly booming. Many unique titles failed to make a splash and Gurumin was one of them. Now it“s being given a second chance via a digital PC release on Steam and GOG. I“ll admit to having never played the game on PSP, but now I wish I really had. As it turns out, the game is 100% classifiable as a â€œhidden gemâ€ which is finally getting its much-deserved chance in the spotlight.
So, what the heck is Gurumin? The game stars a young girl named Parin who has just moved in with her heavily-bearded grandfather. Unfortunately, this town is completely deprived of children! What the heck is Parin supposed to do with her time? Well, luckily for her she just so happens to discover that a group of monsters live right outside of town. Because adults cannot see them, she is totally free to goof around with her new buddies. This excitement is short-lived, though, when the monster village is decimated by other, crueler monsters known as Phantoms shortly after their meeting. Parin takes arms against them with an ancient monster weapon—a drill. From there, players must adventure through tons of levels to defeat Phantoms and collect items stolen from her monster buddies.
Gameplay feels pretty standard with its 3D action-platforming style. After selecting an area from a world map, you enter into a level—drill in hand—and beat up basically anything in your path. Alongside Phantoms, this also includes rocks, pillars, and walls which tend to crumble under the drill“s power. Breaking stuff yields coins and sometimes even unveils secret items or areas. Basically, you want to cause as much damage as possible on every stage, but it“s not that hard to do. Phantoms start off pretty easy but after a while you“ll definitely want to upgrade weapons and items for an easier time.
After the first few hours with Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure you“ll also settle into the basic pattern of gameplay. You“ll visit a level, complete it to collect an item at the end, bring the item to the monsters, and then see a new area unlock. Sometimes more puzzling elements are added in, but for the most part the same pattern repeats itself throughout much of the game. It“s not a bad thing, as the gameplay is enjoyable, just that it might feel a little too obvious at times. There are boss battles thrown in between as well as story segments which help keep things fresh. And really, it“s that storyline which turns the game from simply an enjoyable action-based time into something truly special.
You see, despite (or because of) having played so many games over my lifetime, it“s rare to find one that feels endearing and honest. Gurumin provides a wonderfully adorable world with goofy monsters peppered throughout. All of Parin“s friends are unusual, such as a gigantic cat who has a deep voice and shy demeanor. Then there is a fellow who dances continuously for no apparent reason. Every single character is charming in their own strange ways and these quirks help the game stand out against its contemporaries. Even now, the humor still (mostly) hits as cutely irreverent.
After hours of play there were just a few facets which caused caused annoyance. The biggest is the default camera“s problem following Parin in an intelligent fashion. Of course, you can manipulate it on your own to fix its issues. The controls display for PC keyboard users, but unfortunately don“t change if you swap to gamepad controls. Because control instructions sometimes focus on â€œmouse cursorâ€ location, though, it becomes slightly confusing to figure out how exactly to pull a special move off via controller. In all, these complaints are minimal and pale in comparison to the pure joy of playing.
It“s rare for a game to provide such a simple, wonderful experience like Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure. Many 3D games in general tend to age poorly, but this one still manages to be a highly enjoyable experience. Without the charming storyline and cast, it probably wouldn“t work so well, but their inclusion makes it stand out. If you missed out (like many of us did) on the PSP release back in the day, then make up for it by grabbing the PC release now. Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is a wonderful title which deserves all the attention it can get.
+ Adorably weird cast of characters
+ Mostly simple, enjoyable action and platformer gameplay
+ Bright, cartoony world that is fun to explore
- Default camera movement is iffy
- Button prompts aren“t tailored for gamepad players
Overall Score: 9 (out of 10)
It's rare for a game to provide such an overwhelmingly charming experience as Gurumin. More players simply must give it a try!
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Steam code provided by the publisher.