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Developer:
Nihon Falcom
Publisher: Mastiff
Platform: PSP
Release Date: February 12, 2007

by Josh Ferguson




One of the latest action-RPG titles to be released on the PSP is a game called Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure. Since the Sony handheld only has one analog stick, the problem is constantly arising with action titles suffering from poor camera views. However, can this game pull it off? Youíll have to read on to find out.


The storyline in the game follows Parin, a twelve-year-old girl who was recently sent to stay with her grandfather while her parents went searching for some ancient ruins. Parin wasnít exactly ecstatic about this new arrangement, but things were even worse when she found out that the town of Tiese was completely void of any other children. However, as Parin walks around the town in an attempt to meet some of the townspeople, she comes across a dog harassing a small girl. Quickly, Parin runs to the young girl's aid and scares off the dog. The young girl introduces herself as Pino, and we soon discover that she is no ordinary child, but is actually a monster. Although she is a monster, Pino and Parin quickly become friends and the two of them, along with Pinoís brother Puku, head to monster town to meet their other monster friends.


Some time passes and Parin continues to spend as much time as possible with her newfound friends in monster town. Everything is going well, that is until one day Pino comes running to Parin and the other monsters saying that Puku has been taken by the Phantoms. Parin decides that she will help the monsters bring Puku home, but before she can, they insist that she tries to pull out an all-powerful secret weapon from the ground. Sort of like the whole sword in the stone thing, though this weapon isnít a sword, but a large drill. However, with Parin off battling, the Phantoms invade monster town, stealing many of the monsters' most precious items and completely destroying their homes. It is now up to Parin and the power of the drill to defeat the Phantoms and bring peace back to monster town.


Throughout the game, the basic focus will for the most part stay consistent through each of the levels, which is to get to the end of the level and obtain the item that is missing from one of the monster's homes. Almost every level will have one of these items, except for boss levels and the occasional town level. Examples of some of these items that you will find include a table, a chair, a bookshelf, and a toy car. Once you have acquired this item, you must then take it to the monster that was missing the item, and then a new section of the map will be cleared and new levels will become available. There are also a few different boss battles throughout the game, which you will fight in order to free one of your monster friends.


The combat in Gurumin revolves around Parin using her drill to smack her way through the different enemies of the game. Players can press the square button to perform a regular attack, which consists of one swing with your drill, but if the square button is held for a period of time, then this will perform a charge attack. Charge attacks are far stronger than your normal attack and make breaking through enemy armor a cinch. The game also features a large amount of breakable environments, including boulders, trees, and walls, which usually can only be destroyed by using your charge attacks. Aside from her regular attacks and charge attacks, Parin can purchase new drill parts to give her special attack maneuvers. Parin can acquire a total of six of these special attacks, which are performed by using the attack button and rotating the analog stick or the d-pad. There are also a few different abilities that are performed in the exact same manner, but the attack will alter depending on the actual level of your drill.


As I mentioned earlier, the charge attacks used by Parin can be quite helpful with removing the enemies armor. Not only does removing their armor make the target more vulnerable to your attacks, but Parin can also pick up the damaged pieces of equipment and take them to a shop to upgrade her own equipment. Upgrading your equipment can be quite helpful to your character and give advantages such as immunity to water, immunity to poisonous gases, and reduce the damage you receive from enemies.


One of the nicest things about Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is that for a portable game, there really is a lot to do. Chances are a first-time playthrough will take someone at least 12 hours to complete, and thatís without actually going through the side quests or mini-games and only completing the main story. However, the game does feature a bunch of mini-games that players can mess around with, including wack-a-mole, a game where you must dodge a bunch of laser beams, and even a soccer game (which is virtually impossible). And once you add in the fact that the game has a number of unlockable alternate costumes and several difficulty modes, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure definitely has a lot to keep players busy.


Graphically, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is a very nice-looking game for the PSP. The game not only features some unique and interesting character models, but they donít look too shabby either. Whether it be performing the different combat maneuvers or just defeating your enemies, the combat in the game looks nice. As for the environments, they range from snow-covered mountains to dark, eerie forests and enormous caves. While the game has a decent range of environments, sadly, some of them tend to look rather bland. Many of these environments donít really have much to them and have a somewhat repetitive level design. Sadly though, one of the biggest issues that hinders the game is one of the flaws that many PSP games suffer, and thatís problems with the camera. While there certainly are games with worse cameras, the camera in Gurumin tends to focus over Parinís shoulder, and during some of the game's platforming sections and during combat it can cause some problems. The game also features quite a bit of load times, which have somewhat of an effect on the action of the game.


One of the areas that Gurumin definitely excels in would be the sound department. The game features a large cast of voice actors, many of which do a terrific job. Aside from voice work, there is also a somewhat limited, but very nice soundtrack to be found. There are also some excellent sound effects, whether it be the swinging of your drill, the sound of your character jumping, or breaking through objects.


When itís all said and done, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is a great game for the Sony PSP. If you are a fan of action and platforming games, then you will no doubt enjoy this game. RPG fans will also find something to love here with the many mini-games, upgrading, and several difficulty levels. Gurumin should please any gamer's needs.


Final Grade: 81%




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