We were fortunate enough to receive a preview copy of Mastiff's upcoming release Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure, and after playing the game for several hours one thing is quite apparent. Gurumin is exactly the kind of original and endearing title that the PSP system is in desperate need of at the moment.
Falcom, famed RPG developer and creator of Gurumin, describes their newest title as a "Drilling Action-RPG." While this is an accurate description of the game, a better one would be a platformer with a side order of action-rpg elements. At its core, Gurumin is a very playable 3-D platformer. You'll guide the main character Parin through the many levels by running, jumping, and using your legendary drill in order to traverse the many levels. Along the way you'll be required to solve puzzles by moving and destroying objects and activating switches in each area. You'll also earn money in which you can purchase healing items as well as upgrade your drill in order to perform even stronger special moves. It's this careful mixture of platforming and rpg elements that make Gurumin such a unique experience.
The story line of Gurumin follows the adventures of Parin, as she moves to a new town to live with her grandfather, who also happens to be the mayor. Arriving at the new town Parin quickly finds that there are no other children in town to play with. She runs into a cute girl and manages to save her from being attacked by a dog only to find out that this girl is actually a monster. Parin is quickly introduced to the Monster Village and agrees to help save the monsters and their village from the evil Phantoms. Parin is given the legendary drill and sets out on an adventure to locate the missing monsters and their stolen items in the hopes of rebuilding Monster Village.
The characters in the game are all very cute and endearing and are best compared to the characters in the cartoon series "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends." Each character and monster has their own distinct look and voice which really adds to the personality of the game. Part of Gurumin's charm is the way in which you'll interact with these many characters over the course of the game and become close to them while trying to save them and their home.
Gurumin features a very open style of play and allows you to pick and choose many of the areas you'll visit and play through. While the game does keep you on a leash, it at least lets you perform many of the tasks in the order you choose to. When you enter a new area outside of Monster Village you'll be shown your current grade for each area that you've completed. You're graded on each area you complete based on how many of the enemies you defeat, how many of the chests and pots you open or break, whether or not you experience a "Game Over" during an area, and the time in which it takes you to complete the area. This may seem trivial, but it does make it fun to go back and try to get the best grade in these areas and adds a lot of replay value to the game. As you clear an area it's generally a good idea to head back to Monster Village and Tiese Town in order to bring back the lost items you've located for the monsters and open up new areas on the main map to explore. You'll also need to stock up on healing goodies and upgrades to your drill if you plan to defeat many of the tough bosses you'll face.
The gameplay in Gurumin is extremely well done. The platforming portions of the game will be where you'll spend the majority of your time and controlling Parin and performing the many special drill moves becomes very second nature even after a short time of playing the game. Special drill moves are executed in a familiar "Street Fighter 2" type swirling motion on the control pad or analog stick and are easily pulled off even when the action heats up. You'll need these special moves once you begin to run into the stronger enemies in the game and the bosses. Each area also presents you with puzzles to solve in which you'll have to activate switches, move crates, and even use your special drill moves in order to complete the level. While the RPG elements may seem secondary, it's important to remember that in order to complete the game you'll have to spend a lot of time talking to people and monsters in town and purchasing items and drill upgrades. Who would have ever thought that combining platforming and rpg gameplay would work so well together, but Gurumin combines the two quite seamlessly.
After playing Gurumin, it's easy to recommend the game to anyone looking for a gaming experience that's as refreshing and unique as the one found in Gurumin. The cute look of the game will inevitably turn some gamers away, but I hope PSP owners will at least give the game a fair chance because once you start playing it, it's a very hard game to put down. Gurumin reminds me a lot of PoPoLoCrois in the way its personality and charm immediately draw you in. Very seldom does a game successfully meld two genres together, let alone do it with the charm and personality that Gurumin achieves. If you're looking for a game that's genuinely unique and original, not to mention a lot of fun, look no further.
* Destroy everything in your path with your legendary drill: Almost all objects in a stage can be destroyed, and you get money and items for it! Drill through walls to find secret paths! Smash everything you can to level up!
* Use 8 varieties of attacks to topple enemies: Although Parin uses only her drill throughout the game, as you level up your weapon it changes in shape and appearance, effectively acting as many weapons. Also, attaching various elements to your drill adds graphical effects and lets you take advantage of an enemy?s weak point! Special attacks are graphically stunning and can turn the tide of battle! Parin can even lock on to enemies and perform a targeted air attack! This can propel the player to secret areas in a stage that are otherwise impossible to reach. Each attack is useful and has unique properties that must be used on different types of enemies, giving the player many options.
* Fun equipment: Parin can equip various items found in the game that not only provide various beneficial effects, but change the way she looks, too! Equip a gas mask to avoid taking damage poisonous gas! Don your goggles and swim freely! Equip your monkey mask and mysteriously get more money! This equipment can be leveled up as well, ensuring that it remains useful throughout the game.
* 5 different Difficulty Modes: Easy mode allows anyone to have a relaxing experience, but Normal mode?s difficulty quickly ramps up, keeping the player on their toes. As the game is cleared, 3 more difficulty levels will be unlocked.
* 8 Challenging boss battles: The player faces off against a variety of bosses as they continue through the story. These bosses are huge, intimidating, and will put all their skills to the test. There is even an ultra hard, secret boss (accessible after clearing all stages but not mandatory) that will that have even the most seasoned gamer crying for mercy.
* Puzzles and Traps: Dungeons include puzzles and traps to break up the action. Although simple in the beginning, later they will force the player to think and use all the tools at their disposal. Hints are available, for a price.
* Mini-game Extravaganza: A total of 4 addictive mini-games become available as the story progresses. Dodge lasers, play ?drill-a-mole?, and race against the clock to defeat your rival by breaking everything in your path! You can even challenge your monster buddies to a 3 on 3 soccer game.
* Great Character Design and Story: This story engages the player as soon as they turn the game on, with attractive, unique characters that always have something interesting to say. The main character, Parin, is not only beautifully animated, but hides a tough personality beneath her cute exterior. She never backs down from a fight and is committed to her friends, but also has a kind, forgiving heart. Her voice acting, style and attitude set her apart from most action game stars. We are also confident that all elements of the story, dialogue and voice acting can be properly enjoyed by a US audience, and we are committed to preserving its quality and personality in our localization of this title.
* Music Interwoven with the Action: Not only is the music skillfully composed and catchy, it also adds to the gameplay. When attacking, timing your attacks to the beat of the music will score you critical hits, giving you that extra edge in battle.
* Replay Value: The player is graded on their performance in each stage, but it?s not easy to get a perfect grade on your playthrough of a level. So players will challenge stages again and again to beat their previous record, earn better grades, and unlock secret items.
* Takes Advantage of the PSP Portability: One of Gurumin?s strengths is that the game can be played for long stretches of time if the player has lots of time to spare, however the game?s design also lends itself well to short bursts of play. For example, when dungeons are challenged for the first time, they may take 15+ minutes to explore. However, once the player is familiar with the dungeon, blazing through much more quickly is not only fun, but it will net you better items and a better grade.
You can also save anywhere in the game, allowing players to enjoy the game on their own terms. However, if you choose to save in the middle of a dungeon, only progress made before you entered the current dungeon will be saved.
Product Development Team:
Gurumin was developed entirely in house by Nihon Falcom. The project was led by Hideyuki Yamashita, whose credits include the Japanese hit ?Zwei.? Falcom has become one of the largest and most popular developers of video game RPGs with such hit releases as Dragon Slayer, the Ys series, and Popful Mail. Now Falcom look to continue their streak of RPG success with their newest creation, Gurumin.
Parin: Strong willed, enthusiastic 12 year old girl. Because of her parent?s work, she has moved a lot, therefore having difficulty making many friends. In spite of that fact, she is cheerful and easy going, although not one to back down from a fight. She loves strawberry shortcake, especially the ones sold in town.
Pino: A young monster girl that Parin befriends in town. As Parin is her first human friend, she becomes quite attached to her, treating her like a big sister. She?s a kind hearted girl, but is blessed with absolutely no sense of direction. In the Monster Village, she is loved and protected by all of her friends.
Puku: Pino?s brother and an inhabitant of the Monster Village. He is particularly calm and level headed, and is almost seen as a leader at the Monster Village. Throughout the adventure, he acts as a helpful advisor to Parin.
Pokko: A resident of the Monster Village with Pino and Puku, Pokko loves to dance. He?s somewhat of a trouble maker, but has mastered the art of acting innocent. Lately, he?s developed a fondness for strawberry shortcake, and has started making frequent trips to the human town.
Motoro: A mysterious, shy creature that seems to follow Parin around on her adventures. Unfortunately, every time Parin confronts him, he runs for the hills. What is he hiding?
The Prince: The prince of the Phantoms. A master of many weapons and armed with a sharp mind, he masterminded the wrecking of Monster Village and the spread of darkness throughout the land. But to what aim? He commands the team of Phantom generals that challenge Parin and her friends.
GURUMIN VOICE TALENT:
Amber Hood voices the lead character Parin. Other notable voices provided by Amber Hood are:
- La Pucelle: Tactics (Princess Eclair)
- Omnimusha 3: Demon Siege (Ako)
- Baldur's Gate (Alora)
Tara Strong voices the characters of Cream, Mosby, and Baby Tokaron. Other notable voices provided by Tara Strong are:
- Fairly Oddparents (Timmy Turner)
- PowerPuff Girls (Bubbles)
- Final Fantasy X (Rikku)
Dee Bradley Baker voices the characters of Rocko, Digby, and Puchi. Other notable voices provided by Dee Bradley Baker are:
- Viewtiful Joe (Title Character)
- Gears of War (General RAAM)
- Final Fantasy X-2 (Lord Braska)
Other voice talents found in Gurumin are: Justin Shenkarow (Hey Arnold), Kim Mai Guest (Metal Gear Solid), Robin Atkin Downes (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), Michael Gough (Diablo I & II), Steve Blum (God of War), and Quinton Flynn (Final Fantasy VII: Adventure Children).