Although it doesn't have the biggest name or the best graphics, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure proves to be one of the most compelling action/RPG games currently available for the Sony PSP. It's full of memorable characters, a unique story and a lot of short levels that are perfect for a portable video game system. It may not be as good as The Legend of Zelda and some of the other games it is clearly influenced by, but that shouldn't keep you from having a great time while playing this quirky action/RPG.
Gurumin tells the story of a young girl named Parin who is shipped off to spend some time with her grandfather in a small town full of adults. But just as Parin is starting to accept that she's going to be the lone kid in town, she stumbles across a clumsy little girl who apparently can't be seen by other people in the town. It turns out that this mystery girl is actually a monster, and she comes from a whole town full of monsters. But don't worry too much for Parin's safety, because these monsters mean her no harm ... heck, I'm not sure they could hurt her even if they wanted to.
Unfortunately Parin has some pretty bad timing, because the day she discovers Monster Village is also the day that a group of evil creatures known as Phantoms destroys the surprisingly peaceful monster town and kidnaps many of the inhabitants. Luckily Parin is more than willing to help these friendly monsters rebuild their living area and save their friends ... but then again, what else is she going to do, hang out with old people?
Parin's adventure is pretty straight forward, she must go from area to area battling her way through short levels until she finds all of the furniture (and consumer electronics) that has been scattered around the map. Her weapon of choice ends up being this large magic drill that once was used by another heroic human to combat the evil overtaking the world. Along the way Parin will be able to add abilities to the drill (such as fire, lightning and ice) and buy new special attacks, all of which goes a long way to make the action elements more fun and diverse.
At first Parin will be limited to where she can travel on the map, you see the Phantoms have covered the world in this strange dark smoke. Much of the game is spent going to the locations you can get to, killing all of the enemies in side, taking all of the money and special items, and then retrieving some sort of furniture. After you've done all that you can travel back to Monster Village and return the furniture (which includes a table, stereo, shoe rack, lamp, etc.) to its rightful owner who is busy trying to rebuild his or her (or its) house. Complete one of these quests and another part of the map is opened up and you're off on another exciting quest to kill enemies, find the money and retrieve the furniture.
The nice thing is that there are usually a few different levels you can tackle at any given time, so you won't have to beat the levels in some predetermined order. Along the way you will also run into new characters (many of whom will help you on your quest) and large boss battles. The bosses in Gurumin are generally large and difficult, but like any good boss, they also have a predictable pattern that you will have to use against them. One thing that is cool is that many of the bosses are introduced long before you have to battle them, so they feel like they are part of a larger story and not some tacked on beast. Beat the boss and you'll save one of the kidnapped residents of Monster Village, who will be excited to go back home (and will need you to help them find more furniture).
But Gurumin is about more than just furniture, it also gives you the ability to buy special abilities and clothing items that will enhance your stats. For example, you'll be able to buy a bandana that will make your attacks even more powerful, a gas mask that will keep you from taking injured by poisonous plants and goggles that will allow you to travel through water without being hurt. You will also be able to upgrade these items to make them even more effective, assuming you have enough money. The special abilities are also very useful, and in an inspired move Falcom has made somewhat challenging the pull off. I won't go as far as to say they are hard to manage, but most of them do require you to learn some sort of D-pad and button movement. This means that when you're in the middle of a battle you will have to rotate your D-pad (or analog stick) around 360 degrees and then push the appropriate button, which goes a long way to give these attacks some importance. Had they been simply mapped to a button there would be no reason to use anything but those special abilities, it's nice to see the developers adding in some risk reward to this adventure game.
Gurumin may not be part of a well established franchise, but thanks to its memorable characters, exciting combat, cool story and fantastic voice acting this proves to be one of the best action/RPGs currently available on the PSP!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!