Cute adventures aren’t really my forte, but I couldn’t possibly turn down a good-looking action RPG adventure. For those who need catching up, the original Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure was a Japanese-only Windows release, eventually escaping to Sony’s PSP back in 2006 to better ensure the amazingly adorable action-RPG could find a wider audience. Ten years later, Nihon Falcom’s creation sees another update with Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure for 3DS. Let’s explore!
Our protagonist is Parin, though she can be renamed. Parin goes to live with her grandfather after her parents sent her away due to mining. The town she happens to move to is, you guessed it…a mining town! Sadly, she’s the only child around and while her grandfather is kind-hearted, he’s also a forgetful mayor who doesn’t seem to know his job title. By exploring and poking around Parin learns the secret that this particular mining town’s discovery is actual “monsters”, and thus our monstrous adventure truly begins.
Sadly, not everything is all sunshine and rainbows in Monster Village. Some monsters are great, and Parin quickly makes friends with them. Other monsters, dubbed the ‘Phantoms’, attack while Parin is away from her new friends. She hears about the commotion and races back to help them out. Now she’s tasked not only with defending her new friends, but must embark on an epic quest to defeat the Phantoms once and for all!
I didn’t have many issues with Gurumin when it came to the controls. The battle system consists of a jump, a few combo moves, and one defensive ‘spin’ to get past certain obstacles. Despite the nature of Gurumin, it really felt like I was playing a hack ‘n slash. While enemies disappeared in clouds of smoke or sparkles, the simple attacks didn’t have much in the way of variety, though given the game’s age I wasn’t expected much in the way of ground-breaking gameplay.
The puzzles I encountered were fairly easy to solve, too, so even younger players should have a good time with them. My biggest issue had to do with the camera, which at times felt possessed by a trolling Phantom of its own. During one section I was attempting to jump a gap and the camera would swing around to face Parin from the front, causing me to miss the jump initially and go back to re-adjust the angle. Needless to say, this was frustrating.
The style of Gurumin strongly reminds me of Nintendo’s Mario 64, both in style and graphically. The blocky animation, the small kicks of dust when Parin is dashing around, and the small skid whenever she lands from a jump all felt strangely familiar. While at times the environments did feel a little small and contained, it’s hard not to appreciate the small details peppered throughout. The monster designs are also quite simple, but each has a childish charm that’s hard not to love. This makes it easy to tell each monster apart and to even recognize their personalities at a glance.
The color scheme of Gurumin also surprised me, with soft, quiet tones scattered throughout the game. The environment of the mining town felt sleepy while Monster Village was decorated in brighter hues reminiscent of a child’s playroom. This attention to detail was very impressive to me since it’s not something I see often in modern games. Perhaps there’s a hidden metaphor in how everything is ‘newer’ to a person when they’re younger, but as they grow the world feels as if it’s lost some of those ‘brighter’ colors we can seem to only recognize in our childhood.
Parin’s design also struck me in particular. Her style seems to have a heavy anime influence with pink pigtails and the goggles sitting on her head and wielding a drill that’s bigger than she is with a real‘go get’em!’ attitude. Of course, the game is Japanese so that’s not much of a surprise, and this reminded me of an adorable tomboy who just knows she’s a cutie. I like it!
I’m glad Mastiff decided to re-release Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure when they did, and the 3DS is the perfect platform for it. Maybe I’m showing my age, but few platformers lately have struck me with colorful visuals and action like this one. A friend of mine watching me play remarked how adorable Parin and her monstrous friends were, so the cuteness is spreading. Yes, there’s a few issues with the camera and standard gameplay, but I’m in love with its quirky style and looking forward to spending more time in this world. Sequel, please?