PSP - Gurumin Impressions

This week saw the release of Beautiful Katamari.. a game series that I hold close to my heart, but not close enough that I would spend the $40 budget price tag of the next-generation to own it.. Not right now anyways.. I'd take advantage of that Toys R Us deal, but I can't find a third act to follow :/

Distraught and disappointed, I came home and decided to start playing some PSP games.. but I was looking for something a little more than just an hour of a puzzle rhythm game. Out of my 20 PSP games, I'd say 14 are not very involved games.. so that narrowed the field down.

I had Valkyrie Profile, Metal Gear Solid, Generation of Chaos, Final Fantasy VII and one other story driven game that really caught my eye: Gurumin. subtitle: a monsterous adventure.

Appeal

This was one of those games that looked like I would really like it just from looking at the cover. It had a funny super-deformed character with several other colorful characters behind lighting up the canvas with intrigue. I took a look at the back of the box, and it looked like some medievil adventure style game. A very japanese non-mainstream title..

When gamestop marked Gurumin down to $20 back in May, I gladly picked it up. Kinda sad when a game gets reduced in price 50% 3 months after release.

Story

Gurumin is about a girl named Parin. Parin had just moved to a quite mining town in the middle of no where populated only by adults. Or so it seemed, after running around town she comes across a little child being harassed by a dog. Parin leeps to her rescue and beats away the mean dog.

This child's named is Pico (i think) and she isn't actually a child.. She's a monster. Her brother Puco quickly comes to the scene and tries to save Pico from you. Both Puco and Pico are surprised that Parin can see them, as they are not visible to adults in the town. Puco and Pico lead you to a hole in the town's wall where you are whisked away to the monster town.

The monster town is home to many playful and interesting monsters, but it's not too long until Puco is kidnapped by evil phantoms. This is where the towns-monsters call on your for help. In the center of the village is an ancient weapon that only a true hero could weild. She/he who can pull it out of the ground, is its' rightful master.

Of course, it's no problem for you.. You pull out the weapon and huzzah! The weapon is an ancient drill that has been known to slay the evil phantom menance in the past.

Anyways, You run out to save Puco, but it's all a diversion. In your absense, the monster town is destroyed by the phantoms and evil mist covers the once beautiful monster land.

Even though, you've been playing for about 40 minutes, this is the point where the plot of the game really begins. With the town in ruins, you travel back into the monster land and recover pieces of the shattered village and inspiration your monster friends to rebuild.

Looks

Gurumin really reminds me of those playful kiddy adventure games that found a home on the Playstation back in the day. Much like Megaman Legends, Tail Concerto and Brave Fencer Musashiden. You play a cute little character, fighting monsters.. but all the enemies are very non-threatening and have brilliant colors and cute tones. It's a Japanese kids game. ^_^

Also akin to those games, Gurumin is fully 3D with very simply textures and models.. It reminds me so much of a PS1 game because it looks just like a PS1 game, except the image quality on the PSP removes all those jagged edges and really smooths out everything.

I've been playing this on one of those new PSP Slim and Lites, and I've noticed a fair amount of ghosting with Parin's little red pigtail ribbons. Whenever she moves quickly, her hair will jerk to the side and the ghosting is very apparent. It doesn't really bother me though, and its only really noticable when she's on a dark background.

Role Playing Aspects

Anyways, Gurumin is an action RPG. You have your weapons, your equipment and your HP. You never really change weapons, but you can upgrade it. Living in a mining town has its advantages.. just down the road you have your drill expert that can teach you new tricks with your drill... He'll give 'em to you for free, but you'd much rather pay for them than owe favors.

Leveling is kinda funny in this game. You have 3 power bars for your weapon and whenever you successful defeat an enemy, or break part of the environment, it'll start charging up your bar. Once you power up a single bar, your weapon will gain a level and do more damage. If you get hurt by an enemy, it'll decrease your power bar which can result in losing levels.

The only equipment I've found so far has been headgear. Each piece of headgear has certain effects. The store owner gives you goggles right off the bat, which help prevent water damage. You can buy new pieces of equipment if you want, but you can also upgrade the equipment you own for increased effects. These upgrades don't cost money, but do cost Junk.

Junk are broken pieces of weapons and armor you usually tear off of phantoms while you fight them. Most phantom wear a funny hat, or carry a shield. When you fight them, you'll eventually knock it off of them and you'll collect it.

So far, I haven't found a way to increase my max HP, but I'd guess they are items you can use to permanently increase your max health.

Gameplay

As an action RPG, you simple run around levels and beat the crap out of enemies. The attacking system is really nice. Sure, you can spam the attack button all you want, but you can buy new powerful moves to use against enemies too. So far, I've purchase a spin attack and a ground smash attack.

There's actually a slight bit of strategy in using these attacks too. When you're surounded by enemies, using the spin attack is actually more helpful than spamming the regular attack button, or jumping out of the way and attacking them one by one. It's a useful attack.

You can also charge your attack, and coming drilling into battle rather than normal attacks. Charging your drill is also very good for destroying chunks of the wall and pillars to find money and secret passage ways when in a dungeon.

Parallels

Gurumin really reminds me of Drill Dozer, but they are completely different games. Released on the Gameboy Advance, Drill Dozer preceeded Gurumin by 8 or 9 months and features similar concepts.

Parallel 1) You both play little girls using the power of a drill. In Drill Dozer, Jill actually climbs into a drilling machine which kills enemies and destroys walls and pillars. In Gurumin, Parin's drill is more of a spear. The drill tip spear head is plunged into enemies.

Parallel 2) Both drills have a 3 part leveling system which is not permanent. In Drill Dozer, you begin each stage at level 0. Throughout the stage, you pick up gears which will allow you to charge your drill longer and present a greater attack. In Gurumin, each successful kill increase your level all the way up to 3. At each level, your drill is stronger, but you charge your attacks the same regardless of level.

I suppose Parallel 3) would be the charging of your shots are dependent on a 3 part leveling system where the higher the level the more powerful the charge shot.

But both games are of two different genres. Gurumin is an action RPG, whereas Drill Dozer is a side-scroller. I suppose both games are stage driven though and you unlock more stages as you continue into the game. You can also visit previous stages you've beaten.

Drill Dozer is a fantastic game, by the way, and it'd definitely recommend it. It's made by Game Freak after they finished Pokemon Emerald and before they began working on the next-generation of Pokemon games currenty out now.

Cute

Gurumin is a very lovable game. You play a funny cute girl who is very rude to the elderly townspeople. She also pokes fun at the cookie-cutter story too.. The game has some clever item descriptions too, like those Disgaea and Phantom Brave.

It's really been a joy to play so far, but a little on the easy side. It's still the beginning though, so there's plenty of time to be challenging.

After 2 hours of the game, my verdict is quite positiive. If you like offbeat action rpgs, I'd say definitely go for it. Gamestop probably has it for slightly cheaper than $20 these days.




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