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Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure (3DS) artwork

Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure (3DS) review

"Two decades late to be considered a classic."

Gurumin has been around a while. The PC original was released in 2004, with a PSP port appearing several years later, in 2007. By then, it had already begun to feel dated, and it feels even older now, in 2016.

Gurumin is an action RPG with a Saturday morning anime aesthetic. It stars a little girl named Parin who is sent to live with her grandfather in a small mining village where there are no other children. When she encounters a monster that only children can see, it brings her to its village, which is promptly destroyed by phantoms. With her trusty drill in hand, Parin sets off to restore the Monster Village to its former glory.

The game is broken into separate stages, accessible from a world map. Combat is varied, with a sizable repertoire of unlockable special moves. Unfortunately, the action doesn't feel great. Special moves are performed like fighting game inputs, meaning they'll come out when you don't want them to, since Parin is expected to move around in full 3D. Accidental uses of the fairly pointless spin attack are very common, since the input is to rotate the circle pad 360 degrees before attacking.

Other movements are awkward. Parin inexplicably runs along walls when she jumps, but this doesn't actually provide any benefits. You have to completely stop in front of a pushable block you want to manipulate before Parin will grab it. This kind of thing makes more sense as a context-sensitive button press. The camera isn't always cooperative, either. It's a bit too close to the action a lot of the time, and it uses the L and R buttons to rotate left and right. The New 3DS can use its analog nub, but still only allows the camera to move left and right, not up and down or in and out. It's not as bad as many other older action-RPG cameras, but it could be better.

Level design is serviceable. It's varied enough to not feel terribly repetitive, but it's not always user-friendly. The upgrade and equipment systems allow Parin to deal with various hazards more easily, but you won't necessarily know what you need before you enter a stage. You can switch equipment on the fly, but you can only upgrade it in town, so if you make it halfway through a stage and realize you have to go swimming (something that was always avoidable before that point) and your water-resistant goggles aren't upgraded enough to keep you from drowning, that's just too bad.

Actually unlocking new levels can be a drag, with several instances where you'll need to wander around the human town or the entire game world, searching for characters you must interact with in order to open paths. The game isn't particularly long, but the bevy of unlockables and post-game content do a fine job of providing replay value without that kind of padding.

Every non-player character appears to move at half the framerate of the rest of the game, juttering as they walk or go through their idle animations. This includes enemies, who you have to directly interact with when you fight them. Such an approach isn't good at a practical level for an action game, and it looks much more awkward thanks to the relatively smooth movements of Parin.

Stiff movement, awkward animations, and a wonky camera make Gurimin 3D feel like something from the late N64 or early Dreamcast era. Protagonist Parin's voice actress sounds decidedly non-union, and the more professional actors who make up the rest of the cast enforce the game's cartoony style. They're not exactly Oscar-worthy performances, but they accomplish what they set out to do.

Gurumin 3D ultimately feels like a relic of its time. It's a middling action RPG that is far from an unplayable abomination, but certainly isn't a must-play RPG on a platform with a healthy library of games in the genre.


Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (November 15, 2016)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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