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PSP Review: Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure

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While Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure may fall victim to its cute exterior and little girl protagonist, gamers who are quick to dismiss the title based on its looks alone are going to miss out on one the PSP’s best recently-released adventure titles.

The game definitely provides a deceptive surface, starring a 10-year old girl named Parin on a quest to rid her world of phantoms. However, much like last year’s portable drill fest, Drill Dozer, underneath the hood lies a title with a large number of items to unearth and collect, battle intensive game play and clever boss battles.

The story involves Parin, who lives in a small mining town with her grandfather, encountering a young girl being tormented by a stray dog. After Parin chases the dog away, she discovers the girl is actually a monster, beings which are invisible to adults in the world of Gurumin.

Befriending the monster, Parin is allowed to enter a crack in a wall behind her home and visit Monster Village. However, while inside, evil spirits known as Phantoms invade the village and abduct most of the inhabitants. Eager to help, Parin learns of the Legendary Drill, a weapon powerful enough to destroy the spirits. Once the drill is in hand, Parin drops the good girl act and hands out the pain through a number of upgradeable attacks and projectile moves.

What evolves from the story’s introduction is a very enjoyable platforming title with a mix of RPG elements in upgrading and outfitting Parin and the drill. By smashing the environment and enemies to bits, players can pick up a number of coins and items as well as junk that can be later turned into more items. Laying waste to everything that isn’t a wall allows players to unearth the game’s 90 different items through five total difficulty levels.

By attacking enemies, players will build up a meter that strengthens up the power of the Legendary Drill. Much like some Zelda titles, a full meter allows the drill to shoot energy projectiles at enemies while allowing for maximum damage to be dealt. Players will have to keep Parin out of danger, though, as being hit by enemies not only reduces hit points but the drill’s power meter.

Gurumin looks great on the PSP, featuring a vivid anime style that presents great facial expressions that reflect the current situation and livens up the game’s cut scenes. Even smaller details include a number of great lighting effects that flow from the motion of the drill and emphasize the animations in the title. The differing environments also provide a fair amount of detail, making Gurumin a title that is pleasant to look at while whacking away the phantom denizens.

The cut scenes are further supplemented by some quality vocal work that pushes along the game’s story. Both the voice acting and the revving of the drill are thankfully the best audio features of the title as those two features are the predominant sources of sound players will hear in Gurumin. There are a few other nice touches including sound effects that differ depending on what type of item the drill is striking, but unfortunately the limited music in the title take a definitive backseat to the sound effects.

For the most part, the game play in Gurumin controls very nicely, but during game play players will have to occasionally fight the camera as well as enemies. The most particular problem stems from the amount of zoom the camera gives to the action. While the tight view gives the title a good amount of graphical flair, fighting off groups of multiple phantoms can be a bit of an exercise if there are baddies hidden from view off screen.

There are unfortunately a few elements that slow up the process of the game, including disc access and backtracking. Finding elements crucial to the progression of the story requires players to return to town every time and is further crutched by loading every time Parin enters a brand new area. While it is bearable and not as bad as other PSP titles, the frequent access breaks up what is otherwise an enjoyable action-packed RPG romp.

The main story isn’t among the longest in terms of longevity, but completists will have a ball uncovering all the nooks and crannies Gurumin has to offer. Through the course of the action-packed romp featuring more than 40 types of enemies, players can unlock costumes and mini-games among the collectable accessories and medals awarded for completing quests.

Overall, Gurumin definitely warrants a look from anyone who wants to plug a new game play experience into their PSP. Packed with run and jump action against hoards of enemies and a ton of extras to comb through, the title joins the growing library of strong titles on Sony’s portable system. While it looks cute and cuddly on the outside, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure provides some definite action bang for the buck on the go.

Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is rated E10+ (Everyone 10+) by the ESRB and contains Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Tobacco Reference.

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