Some games just hit you when you're searching for something to buy at the local game store. They have these amazing covers full of great looking characters and pictures on the back of the box that let you know that this is the game for you. Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is not one of those games. Instead this is the type of title you would probably walk right by, completely ignoring it while reaching for the newest Burnout or SOCOM game. But with its lengthy adventure and engaging story Gurumin deserves to be noticed, even if it has sugar sweet characters and screenshots that don't look very impressive. Gurumin may not look like much, but it's easily the most endearing adventure game currently available for Sony's PSP, and that's just one of the reasons why you should give this game a chance.
Gurumin is developed by Nihon Falcom, a Japanese company that has been around for nearly 25 years. Most people will know Nihon Falcom for their long-running series Y's (which has been on everything from the TurboGrafx-CD to the PlayStation 2), but the company has also released a number other phenomenal games that were critically acclaimed but completely ignored by the video game buying public. Don't let Gurumin become another Popful Mail, it's about time Nihon Falcom has a major hit.
In Gurumin you play a young girl named Parin who is shipped off to live with her grandfather in a sleepy town full of nothing but adults. Understandably disappointed that she is the only kid in this entire town, Parin sets off to find something to do to keep her mind off of what is sure to be a boring situation. Before long our young hero is introduced to what she thinks is another kid, a clumsy young girl named Pico who can't be seen by the adults in town. After some investigating Parin discovers that this young girl is not a girl at all … she's a monster! Apparently Pico comes from an entire village of monsters that is located just outside of the human's town only accessible by a small magic door.
Weighing her options, Parin decides it's going to be more fun to see what's on the other side of that door than it is to do nothing in this boring old town full of old people. And there she is, face to face with a bunch of bizarre monsters who are not used to interacting with humans. But don't worry for Parin's safety, because these monsters are not the evil blood thirsty kinds of monsters you see in Hollywood movies. Instead these are good natured monsters who just want to be left alone so that they can live in peace. I doubt any of these monsters would be able to seriously hurt our young hero even if they wanted to.
Unfortunately Parin has some bad timing, because soon after she discovers the Monster Village 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?
Although Parin is a little girl, that doesn't stop her from being a force to be reckoned with. Early into her adventure she discovers a magical drill that is lodged into the ground. It is said that the person that is able to remove this drill will have the strength, perseverance and good luck to strike down the evil doers. I won't kid you, this element of the story is more than a little similar to The Sword in the Stone, but Gurumin quickly turns into something else entirely. Parin's adventure is pretty straight forward; it's your job to take care of the Phantoms, save all of the monster friends and rebuild the Monster Village. Is Parin up to such a task? You better believe she is!
Once you leave the Monster Village you are able to walk around a sizable overhead map that will take you to one of several hot spots where you will need to take out the enemies and collect the personal belongings of the friendly monsters. At first where you can go is limited, 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 levels themselves are a fully realized 3D area that is controlled from a third-person perspective. You can run around these levels killing the enemies, destroying breakable objects, solving the occasional puzzle and generally having a good time. These action stages are generally short and diverse; they are a real pleasure to go through. Best of all, you are ranked at the end of each stage so that you can see just how well you did. If you're the type of person who wants to do and see everything then you're probably going to want to go back into the level and get the best possible ranking, others may just want to rush through the levels so that they can move on to the level part of the game.
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