Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure
Poor Parin. Her mother and father have decided to go off on a grand adventure and believing that their dear sweet child is too juvenile to tag along with them, they unceremoniously dump her with the grandfather who resides in a remote mining town with absolutely nothing to do apart from twiddling one’s thumbs. What’s a twelve year old girl to do in such a place that epitomises the exact opposite of fun and games? As that helium-pumped dinosaur, Barney, would put it – it’s time to use your imagination!
While the adults go about their boring daily routines, Parin soon encounters a cute little monster that seems to have taken one too many steps away from home. She helps the invisible-to-grown-ups creature return to her home via a conveniently placed portal situated at the dead end of a nearby alleyway. It is by no coincidence that as soon as she enters the monster’s realm, disaster strikes and an unimaginable evil casts itself upon the land. As Parin is the only one who can wield the legendary drill-in-the-stone and save the day – and since she has nothing else better to do – she sets off on her own monstrous adventure to reclaim the good monsters’ scattered pieces of furniture and hence restore peace to this imaginary community.
“Since she has nothing else better to do, [Parin] sets off on her own monstrous adventure…”Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is clearly aimed towards the younger audience; not only is the premise completely absurd, but the overly bright graphical style and excessively happy unfolding of events – by way of childish and comically voiced cutscenes – immediately sends out warning signs to all those who are well into their teenage years or beyond. But just like how the Disney/Squaresoft joint-venture that is Kingdom Hearts stole many a hard-gamer’s heart, the exploits of the lovable Parin work out in a similar way, despite the naive overtones.
Parin will have to dive deep into a number of themed dungeons that span the land of the monsters. From eerie forests to labyrinthine tombs, whether they may be infested with buzzing bees or curiously blue phantom foot-soldiers, with the power of her drill-piece, Parin can wreak more damage than a dentist gone blind. X is the lucky button to be mashed here and coupled with several spins of the analog nub, a wide variety of sparkling special attacks can rain pain upon every critter that dares to cop a feel. It’s plain and simple fun for a while, but the highly repetitive nature of combat (similar to Kingdom Hearts) and the monotonous dungeon-crawling (reminiscent of the recent 3D Castlevania titles) soon negates any pleasures to be had with the interesting customisations of the drill and the hilarious, but useful, headgear that Parin is able to wear over her fiery mop.
Gurumin follows the tried-and-true formula of battling countless enemies, solving a simple switch-puzzle or two, some more fighting, rounding off with a ‘surprise’ boss encounter – rinse and repeat. You only have access to a small portion of the sprawling land at a time. To uncover more areas, you will have to get to the end of a dungeon where a shining piece of furniture lies and return it to its rightful owner in Monster Town. Going back and forth every single time you finish up a stage is simply a pain in the butt. There are a few minigames to spice up the cyclic flow of dungeon-return home-dungeon-boss, but it’s not enough to break through the drudgery of this adorably-masked, but generic dungeon-crawler that’s over before you know it.
On subsequent replays, there is a new game+ option that keeps your previous HP and unlocked character art intact, but it doesn’t allow you to retain all of your acquired equipment from your first run-through should you want to power them up to their fullest potential without mindless grinding for monster junk. With Gurumin’s limited inventory of wares, this oversight just serves to further highlight the brevity of the main game. Sure, there is also a challenging Boss Rush mode, multiple difficulty levels, and a tide of unlockable costumes to reward the dedicated, but it doesn’t change the fact that, by and large, Gurumin wanted to be a Zelda/Kingdom Hearts/Super Mario 64, but it was too immature to hang out with the big boys. As such, just like poor Parin, it’s relegated to somewhere not nearly as exciting as it sounds.
“By and large, Gurumin wanted to be a Zelda/Kingdom Hearts/Super Mario 64, but it was too immature to hang out with the big boys.”All the hallmarks of a grand adventure – deep dungeon design, extensive customisations, an epic story, and much more – have been oversimplified to the brink of bearable sweetness. As charming as Parin and the residents of monster town are, everything else is rather stale and clichéd, and that which has already been done better many times before it.