I hate to say this, since I try my best to be all about the games, but there’s a couple developers that get me all hot and bothered whenever they come up. One of those is Idea Factory, and if you ask I’ll blame that on a mummy’s curse. The other is Nihon Falcom, and if you ask I’ll say that’s because Falcom consistently makes some of the best RPGs and action-RPGs out there. They don’t rely on dumb gimmicks or fanservice (mostly) – they mix solid gameplay with compelling stories and release the result to minimal fanfare once a year or so. We need more developers like Falcom.
One of Falcom’s more recent PC localization, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure, is a great example of this substance-over-marketing paradigm. Released originally for the Japanese PC well over a decade ago, most may be familiar with the PSP version that soon followed, and now we’re back to (non-Japanese) PC release on Steam and elsewhere. Gurumin stars Parin, a little girl moving to a new town. She doesn’t know anyone and there aren’t any kids there to befriend…but who says you only have to be friends with kids? Parin rapidly gets involved with the local monster village, and when baddies disturb the peace, Parin’s on hand to make things right.
What we’ve got here is a Zelda-ish action-platformer. There’s the odd minor RPG element, like hats that offer unique bonuses, but there’s no leveling system or anything like that. You’re going to spend most of your time bashing baddies, hopping on platforms, digging up keys and so on.
Parin’s drill-based attacks involve a sort of pseudo-rhythm-game system. Timing your attacks to the beat of the music results in increased damage and a warm tingly feeling all throughout your body. Try it. it’s fun. What’s more, it’s possible to bounce from foe to foe to take out multiple targets and move around throughout the stage. It’s something like what modern Sonic does with his homing attack but with a bit less homing.
The proceedings feature a cutesy pseudo-cel-shaded presentation that suit the theme. It’s not going to blow your mind with graphical insanity, especially given it originally came out over a decade ago. It does what it needs to do and does it well, though, and it’s got some snappy music on top of that.
Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure doesn’t reshape the gaming landscape. It’s not an example of how Video Games are Art. It’s certainly not Game of the Year 2015. It is, however, a damn fine use of a couple weeknights. If you want some action-RPG fun that’s not too taxing, you can’t really go wrong with Gurumin.