As you play through the game your magic drill will become even more important. Eventually you will run into power-ups that you can attach to your weapon of choice, including the ability to give your drill fire, lightning and ice attacks. I'm sure it won't come as much of a surprise that these different abilities will come into play as you advance the story, especially when it comes to solving puzzles and taking out certain enemies. It's also worth noting that Parin can buy brand new drill-related special moves that you can pull off by a combination of buttons and fancy analog stick movements. All this makes the combat a lot more interesting than your average dungeon crawl, you will definitely be doing more than just button mashing and hoping for the best.
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 helping the friendly monsters. When you're not out battling bad guys and solving puzzles, you can go back to the sleepy old town and talk to the residents, buy clothing/items, and see what you're missing. The items you can buy in the town end up playing a major role in your overall adventure; 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. There isn't a ton of stuff to purchase in this town, but what's there is useful and it's all integrated well.
Parin's adventure takes her all over the place, as soon as you start to get bored of one type of environment Gurumin switches gears and takes you someplace completely different. Better yet, there are a lot of times when you will be able to choose which type of level you want to jump into. By the time you've destroyed the evil Phantoms and discovered the mysteries of Gurumin, Parin will visit snow-covered mountains, underground caves, a giant castle, a peaceful lake, and a number of other cool locations. Not only do these levels feel different, but you will also be dealing with different types of enemies (which goes a long way to set each environment apart).
The reason this all works is because Gurumin ends up being a whole lot of fun to play. The action stages are surprisingly satisfying, the story moves right along, and the controls are responsive. This is the type of game that could have gotten old quickly, but Nihon Falcom has figured out a way of making you want to keep going … even if all you're doing is retrieving people's furniture. Couple this with the fact that there aren't a lot of good adventure games on the PSP and you have a game that's a must-buy if you're the type of person who gets into this style of action/adventure. The game itself is actually pretty lengthy, it will take a good fifteen hours to play through on your first time through, and even after you've seen all of the levels there's still quite a bit of incentive to go back and improve your score and earn all of the extra content. There are also a few different difficulty levels, which goes even further to make this game a great value.
Based on the somewhat cheesy cover I didn't expect to care much for the characters, yet I found myself loving each and every one of them by the end of the game. Not all of them have a lot of character development, but the voice work is strong and pretty much every character has at least one or two memorable lines. It's also worth mentioning that the voice talent did a remarkable job, some of it occasionally dips into Saturday morning cartoon territory, but for the most part it's strong and full of emotion. I've played so many games lately where the voice actors don't even try, so it's definitely refreshing to see such good line reading … especially since this is a portable video game.
While the graphics aren't nearly as detailed as some of the other PSP games currently on the market, they have a simplistic look that works for the most part. It would have been nice to see a little more time spend on the level details, but the game has a unique look that generally works. The characters are also good looking, because they are both large and unique. Some of the monsters you run into are very unusual … which makes sense considering that they are monsters. The game has a nice art style, even if this isn't the graphical show piece game you might be looking for.
Gurumin is the type of game that is easy to recommend, it's an incredibly fun adventure game full of memorable characters and some pretty good writing. It may not have the best graphics or the name recognition people want, but as adventure games go on the PSP this is one of the best. Even with its sugar sweet appearance, Gurumin is definitely worth your time and effort. It's not without a few unoriginal moments, but thanks to the other elements being so strong these complaints are hardly worth bringing up. If you're looking for a great action/adventure for the PSP then you can't go wrong with Gurumin.
Gurumin is exactly what the doctor ordered, an exciting action/adventure game full of memorable characters and fun levels to fight through. It may not be the best looking game on the PSP, but it's easily one of the best adventure games for Sony's handheld. Don't miss Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure!
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