By: Ted Chow
Gurrann Lagannn!! If you’ve watched that particular Anime you may get a similar vibe while playing Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure, mostly because you use a drill for a weapon. Coming into Gurumin I wasn’t expecting much in the visual or story department as the game didn’t take itself too seriously.
Much of the game felt like a parody of other games and/or entertainment media and should be played with that in mind. If you’re looking for a wacky yet fun game that your children could play, Gurumin is a nice 3D platformer that is made with younger audiences in mind.
Upon booting up Gurumin for the first time you’re met with a configurations screen to setup your keyboard or controller inputs. Much of it felt pretty standard, though there are limitations to what buttons can be key-bound to certain actions. This doesn’t make sense as why would you not have full control over your key-binds if it’s an option in the first place?
Aside from that, the game’s controls felt standard, but the camera angle and manual panning is a bit of an inconvenience on the keyboard — in fact, the game is more naturally suited for a controller than a keyboard.
While I can understand Gurumin’s nostalgic N64/PS2 era look, the game still feels lacking in the graphics department. No visual updates or inclinations were bothered with when they decided to port this over from the PlayStation Portable to the PC. Compared to proper ports like Valkyria Chronicles, the game feels poorly adapted, especially having to play with a controller to get the better experience. The art style, while palatable, did not read well on an artistic level, but then again, the targeted audience may feel differently.
The sound overall was appropriate for the platforming genre, though I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint what category the music encompasses.
In Gurumin, you’ll play as a female protagonist whose name is up to you as you find yourself living amongst friendly monsters. As the game developer gods have willed it, only you and fellow children can see these monsters that co-exist with the human world. Malevolent phantoms are here to rain on your parade, however, and it is up to you to find your captured monster buddies and return things back to normal. The story isn’t original by any means, but it works for this genre, especially for the kids.
Gurumin plays similarly to any puzzle platformer such as Mario where you interact with the environment to finish off different stages. The only exception is that you have a drill weapon that can be used to combat the phantoms as well as other dynamic situations such as drilling walls. Doing this will spawn money and upgrade components to be used back in town.
Each stage offers a rank based on your performance during your run, though much of it is for Steam achievements rather than anything substantial. Your main goal is to finish the level and unlock the final stage containing your topical boss fight to move the story along.
While in town, you can purchase useable items and upgrades for your drill. Consumables include health restoration items and various head pieces that offer some statistical benefits or abilities for the player to exploit. All other items that you find throughout the game are miscellaneous stuff you can turn in for upgrades or head pieces. Upgrades are handled in another shop and can pertain to either your head piece or unlockable move sets for your drill attack animations.
During a stage, you’ll want to keep your health points at full, not only to complete the stage, but also to keep your drill’s potential at its maximum. Every time you perform an action with your drill it will level up and unlock other abilities such as shooting a wave of energy.
These combat moves don’t require any complex inputs, as much of the combat and abilities are executed by spamming the attack button in various rhythmic succession. Your drill attacks can also be charged up in order to unleash a more powerful strike, though I’m unsure why the charge-up bar looks like a musical note sheet that pulsates to the soundtrack.
It is also worth noting that you aren’t stuck with your main character. Other playable characters become available throughout the game, each of whom offer some new combat opportunities best left for players to explore. It’s a nice added bonus that helps to break up the monotony of just playing one character.
Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is a throwback to some nostalgic puzzle platforming that follows the standardized formula without deviating much from the crowd. As a port, the controls and camera can be a bit of a drawback to your experience, but it doesn’t take away from Gurumin’s charm.