Let’s have a little bit of fun with a cute, light-hearted Action-RPG filled with bright colors, great voice acting, cute monsters, and generally good gameplay. Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure, which was originally a Japanese title first available in the West for the Sony PSP in 2007 and later released on Steam in 2015 by Mastiff. Given that the only handheld gaming consoles I’ve had until the release of the Nintendo 3DS XL were the original GameBoy and the GameBoy Advance, I didn’t know about this game. And I’m pretty sad about missing it. So, since Gurumin is a decade old at this point, this review will also seek to answer the question “Does it hold up today?”
Story. In Gurumin, the player assumes the role of Parin, a spunky young girl sent to live with her grandfather who is the mayor of a mining town while her parents go off on an adventure. Parin and the town baker Fan are the only children in this city, so Parin gets excited when she sees a grumpy dog chasing a little girl. Parin saves her, and it turns out that the little girl, Pino, is a monster – which only children can see. Pino takes Parin to the Monster Village where she meets all the good monsters. Suddenly, a group of evil monsters, the Phantoms led by the Prince, attack! As fear and sadness encase the hearts of the monsters, a Dark Mist forms a shroud over the Monster World. Parin pulls the Legendary Drill from the stone in the center of Monster Village and begins her quest to restore hope and happiness to her new friends’ world.
Graphics and Sound. With such a straightforward story about a child’s adventure, the graphics are bright, clear, and engaging. In many ways, it looks like I’m playing inside the world of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends or one of the many Saturday Morning Cartoons I grew up loving. To me, this is a plus for any game – it can capture a sense of nostalgic joy for a world and its stories that were not part of my childhood. I was 29 when the game was released. And for a game that’s a decade old, and, originally available in the West for a portable console, the graphics still hold up pretty well. Sure, they’re a bit blocky, but that’s part of the game’s charm for me – the graphics look like they came from a cartoon.
As I mentioned earlier, the voice acting is spot on. The music is clear and upbeat, giving my gaming experience a happy feeling as I go through the game. The drill sounds are crisp and distinct. I wouldn’t mind a little bit more ambient noise in the levels to heighten my engagement, but, at the same time, this is one of those games that parents can let their young children play without worry that it will be “too scary” or “too dark” or filled with foul language. I would recommend this game for my six-year-old niece.
Gameplay. The gameplay is what you expect from an Action-RPG. The combat is in real time, and, for the most part, is uninspiring. While there is a “music bar” that, if you time your strikes correctly, grants you a critical hit each time and while there are a few special moves you can learn, the combat is largely button mashing. That said, the boss fights offer enough variety and challenge that combat doesn’t ever get truly stale.
The drill itself is an interesting weapon. You can charge the drill for more power and break through stone and wood, and you can upgrade it by attaching various parts to it. That’s something I like, because (a) it doesn’t require me to seek out/purchase countless weapons and (b) it requires me to think about what abilities/add-ons might be useful in a given situation. The same is true for most items you purchase – they can be upgraded, so you don’t have to spend endless hours grinding for coins.
Much of the gameplay revolves around exploring dungeons and finding the lost monsters and their missing items so that they can rebuild their homes and their lives. Throughout these dungeons, Parin explores the zones, smashes pots to get coins, solves puzzles, and fights monsters. Standard adventure game stuff. That said, for a game with such a childlike feel to it, some of the puzzles are pretty challenging. There are also platforming sections that require being able to see from multiple angles. And here is my biggest complaint about the game – the camera control is very dated. While I can spin in a complete circle on the horizontal axis, I cannot move the camera up and down to view what lies ahead on the vertical axis. While that’s not a huge dealbreaker, there are a few instances in both platforming and boss fighting where that control would be beneficial.
Concluding Thoughts. All in all, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is still a great, enjoyable game after a decade. The graphics are clear, the story is engaging, the gameplay is fun. It’s a game you can play with your kids, if you have any, or let your kids play without worry. The game is $9.99 on Steam, and I recommend picking it up!
You know the drill guys, what’re some of your favorite Steam games that you’d recommend to me?
Rating. 3.8 out of 4 Bats.