Review: 'Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure' (3DS)

'Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure' is a Nintendo 3DS exclusive. 'Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure' is a Nintendo 3DS exclusive. MASTIFF

Gurumin 3D: a Monstrous Adventure is not a game that's particularly ambitious, and it's lacking polish in a number of places. As a port of a game that's more than ten years old at this point, the game's age becomes clear in a number of ways. If you can look past the game's shortcomings, however, you'll find an action RPG that's simple, charming, and overall pretty fun, with solid fundamentals powering the whole thing. If you're looking for a game that your young children can play, this will meet their needs, but also won't be patronizing for older players looking for something fun.

In this game, you play as a young girl whose name you get to choose. After coming to live with her grandfather, she discovers another world next to her own, where friendly monsters live. Their world has come under attack by the Black Mist, and the player must travel through the monsters' world, defeating enemies and recovering their valuables in order to dispel the Black Mist and defeat the evil Prince of... evil, I suppose.

The game is an action RPG at its core. The gameplay and combat all take place in real time, as you skillfully wield your drill to attack enemies and dodge their attacks in turn. You'll have to input certain button combinations in order to execute the special attacks you gather throughout your adventure, and different enemies will require different attacks or tactics to defeat. Some enemies require that their armor be broken before you can damage them, while others are extremely dangerous to stay close to for any period of time. It's enough variety to keep combat from becoming repetitive and boring, even if it is ultimately pretty easy. Gurumin 3D manages to be easy without being patronizing, though, offering actual challenge while rewarding those who want to stretch their abilities.

The controls and combat are more solid than I expected going in. As you attack enemies, your drill weapon will level up to a certain point, but taking damage will bring the level down, like in Cave Story. Your standard attack button for your drill weapon can be mashed, or it can be charged up for a power drill attack. You also have a guard dash button that lets you instantly cover some ground while giving you a bit of invincibility, letting you sail through attacks or certain barriers, and in some cases this even combos into other attacks. While your character feels a bit floaty, especially when jumping, the controls are responsive and never get in the way. If you do happen to fall in combat, you'll start at the beginning of your current room with half health, which feels like the right amount of punishment, especially if you need to use up a health item. There are some games where I would dread going into combat because of how annoying it was, but that wasn't the case here.

The level designs are pretty simple and never require a lot of thought to get through, though people who want to explore will find themselves rewarded. Most of the time, you'll find yourself in a locked room where you have to defeat a number of enemies in order to open the gates. Other times you'll need to hit switches, do some simple platforming, or find hidden breakable walls to discover the path forward. One of your abilities, the jump attack, can be repeatedly chained, allowing your character to cross chasms if there is a line of flying enemies across it. The more you explore the level, and the more skill you show in combat, the better your end-of-level reward, which can be traded in for more cash or special items.

You find new levels to explore by traversing the world map, which is segmented into specific levels along set paths, like in some of the old Mario games. You'll have some social spaces alongside the levels proper, and sometimes you'll have other challenges like a battle dojo or the traditional minecart level. The most notable social space is Tiese Town, the human town. This is where you'll buy items and get upgrades for your weapons or equipment. Most of your purchases will be made with normal money, though you also can collect junk throughout your adventure, which goes toward upgrading your gear. You can only have one equip at a time, which keeps the game very simple, since it was likely geared toward younger players. Even so, it was still satisfying to head back to Tiese Town with a big handful of money and pump up my character's stats.

The game's presentation is a mixed bag. The graphics are, in a word, outdated; I've seen better-looking 3D games on the original Nintendo DS, and a lot of the character animations feel weightless and just plain off. Some of the level designs are also fairly uninspired, with all the desert-esque Meter Shrine levels being samey and ultimately boring, for example. The game's characters are quite charming, though, with the main character having a fantastic design, and many others not too far behind; plus, Tiese Town itself is visually appealing and laid out nicely. The voice acting, while competent, feels off. Voices are not properly matched to characters, and often times you'll see your own character flailing their arms in exasperation while the actress reads the line in an almost bored manner. However, the game's music is quite enjoyable to listen to, with a couple of tracks standing out in my memory for once, and the sound effects are mostly solid (with the exception of the terrible jump noise).

There isn't a whole lot to say about Gurumin 3D, which is a fairly simple game at its heart, but there are more good things to say about it than bad. You aren't going to find an epic adventure for the ages in here, but you will find a solid game with tight controls, fun gameplay and plenty of charm, even if it does occasionally suffer under the weight of its own anime tropes. For $15 you'll get an adventure that will last you somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to ten hours, which is a pretty solid value. If you're looking for a silly and enjoyable action RPG, dig out your 3DS and give this one a try.

Final Score: 7.3 out of 10

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