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Developer: Nihon Falcom Publisher: Mastiff Platform: PC (Steam, GOG) Release Date: March 30, 2015 ESRB: E10+ 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. Pros: + Adorably weird cast of characters + Mostly simple, enjoyable action and platformer gameplay + Bright, cartoony world that is fun to explore Cons: - Default camera movement is iffy - Button prompts aren“t tailored for gamepad players Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic 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.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is in a bit of an odd spot - it's a licensed game, which usually means trouble, but the show it's based on is itself based on an established gaming icon. Does it overcome the stigma of licensed games to earn a spot in the collection of every Pac-Maniac, or is this ghostly adventure haunted by its status as a tie-in product? Read on to find out! Developer: Bandai Namco Games, Monkey Bar Games Publisher: Bandai Namco Games Platform(s): Wii U, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, PC via Steam Release Date: October 25, 2013 ESRB: E10+ Review is based on the PC/Steam version Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a 3D platformer based on the DisneyXD television show of the same name. In the game, Betrayus, whose name pretty much tells you everything you need to know, is up to his old tricks and aims to take over Pac-World and turn all its residents into ghosts! Only Pac-Man and his friends can stop him, but you already knew that. This time around, Pac-Man must traverse various dangerous worlds looking for stone tablets that, once deciphered, may hold the key to stopping Betrayus' villainy once and for all! Of course, if you're like me and have never seen an episode of the show, none of that will really matter. The characters (besides Pac-Man, Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde) were all new to me, and some references to events from the show went over my head. If you are a fan of the show, you'll certainly get a kick out of these, but if not, then you'll be left wondering what they're talking about - thankfully, other than the winks and nods, the story is self-contained enough that anyone could follow it regardless of prior knowledge. Story cutscenes are also generally few and far between and really only serve to fill in the gaps between levels, so the real focus will be on the hopping and chomping you'll be doing. Ghostly Adventures takes you through different worlds as you run, jump, chomp enemies, and gather collectibles as well as the ever-present pellets and fruit the series is known for. You'll also come across various power-ups ranging from the ability to throw fireballs to puffing up Pac-Man like a balloon to float through windy areas and reach new heights. The power-ups play into the levels by requiring you to use them to traverse certain areas or defeat certain enemies, and you'll often use more than one powerup in a single level (or even in a single area of a level) which keeps the gameplay from getting too stale over the rather short course of the campaign. You'll also need them for the majority of the boss fights, which pop up in different levels rather than always at the end of a world, so they'll keep you on your toes. When not partaking in perilous platforming and performing powered-up poundings on poltergeists (try saying that five times fast) there's a hub world to play around in the form of Pac-Man's school, where you can converse with characters and play a few arcade-style games that you'll unlock over time, none of which, for some reason, are the original Pac-Man. While the game works fine as a 3D platformer - which makes sense because it's not even new ground for Pac-Man - it also falls prey to some of the pitfalls of the genre, notably a finicky camera that sometimes struggles to show you where you're going. Thankfully, the controls work well enough that you can often recover before plummeting to your doom, and if not, the game is generous with extra lives, which can be picked up in the levels or obtained after defeating enough enemies. You won't really need them that much, though, because most of your deaths will come by accident rather than from the enemies, since, as a game based on a children's show, it doesn't offer up a whole lot of challenge. Some of the later levels can get a little hectic, but you'll never see anything on the same scale as, say, a late-game level in one of the 3D Super Mario games. Also, in comparison to Super Mario, the game's physics, level layouts, and general gameplay all have their own feel to set Ghostly Adventures apart from the competition, so fortunately you're not likely to suffer from dÃ©jÃ vu during your playtime. Aside from the campaign, there's also a multiplayer mode, but it's local-only so I was unable to try it out. From a visual standpoint, the game is generally bright and colorful, which is typical of 3D platformers but welcome nonetheless in today's gaming climate. Each area also has its own distinct look, and there's a good bit of set dressing to really give each world its own personality. While the game isn't a graphical powerhouse - and indeed, barely looks the part of a seventh-generation console game - it doesn't really need to be one, either, so it's not likely to bother even older players. SInce the show is done in CGI, the game is able to simply emulate the same three-dimensional look, which helps tie the game to its source material. On the audio side of things, the game features a fun, bouncy soundtrack that incorporates some tunes from Pac-Man's past as well as the show itself, a nice touch for fans of both. The sound effects in the game are mostly pulled from the arcade game as well, though there are a few new ones that work just fine too. The game also features full voice acting, though soundalikes were used in place of the show's original cast. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a fun and colorful platformer with a laid-back attitude, with all the key elements of the genre coming together to form an enjoyable romp through Pac-World. However, a couple of things hold it back from true greatness - foremost is the game's length, which clocks in around 5 hours. The other is that, while the game is certainly distinct from other 3D platformers and stands on its own, it still doesn't do anything new or particularly interesting with the genre. Add to the fact that this game is mostly aimed at the younger crowd, and you've got a recipe for a good rental, but not necessarily a good purchase. There's certainly a lot of fun to be had, but there's just not enough to the game to really chomp into, leaving a ghostly trace that will haunt players with a hunger for more. Score: 7/10 TL;DR version - Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a fun platformer that manages to stand apart from the likes of Mario, and also manages to escape from the general awfulness of licensed games. There's a lot to like for fans of the show and even those who haven't watched it may still find the game enjoyable, however, the game's short length and lack of true challenge for hardcore gamers keeps it from being a truly significant experience. It might be worth a rental if you're hankering for a 3D platformer that doesn't star a portly plumber, but I honestly can't recommend a purchase.