Thanks to Mastiff for the review code
Title: Gurumin 3D
System: Nintendo 3DS (eShop)
Release Date: 10/13/2016
In this port of the 2004 PSP title from Falcom, you take control of a girl named Parin who moves into a mining town to live with her grandfather. However just as she’s settling in she discovers a strange town of friendly monsters who are under attack from the evil phantoms, and with the power of a special drill Parin’s off on an adventure in this brand new world!
At first this game may appear to look similar to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in terms of its cell-shaded artwork, and for the most part you’d be right on that. The environments are nice and colorful, the characters are expressive and the game just looks pretty overall. Of course as advertised in the title, the 3DS version of Gurumin now supports 3D, which actually looks pretty good in most cases, with some levels benefiting from the added depth provided by the 3D effect. Unfortunately it should also be noted that the 3D makes the stiff animations from NPCs and normal enemies much more noticeable, along with some annoying pop-in for distant vases and enemies. However these two oddities were also present in the PSP original so it’s nothing that’s the fault of the porting team, but rather the developers of the original game making a game without the idea of stereoscopic 3D in mind.
The touch screen is also given some special treatment in this port, and while it unfortunately does not provide a map feature, it does allow you to swap out elements for your drill and headgear on the fly, although these are done in a sequential order and they can only be picked out of this order through the normal item menu.
Music and Sound
While not in the same caliber as their Ys and Legend of Heroes series, Gurumin 3D still keeps the energetic feel that Falcom games are known for, with plenty of amazing songs to accompany you throughout your adventure. There are a few duds here and there, most notably the title screen and minigame themes, but for the most part the OST is amazing, with special mentions going to the world map theme for its zen tone and the Potato Ruins for the adventurous mood. There’s even quite a bit of voice acting that plays during specific cutscenes, with the voices sounding clear and crisp for the system thanks to the high quality cast. It should be noted that this version doesn’t seem to contain the Japanese VA, at least not be default, however I do personally prefer the english cast to the Japanese one, so it isn’t a big loss.
Once you enter your first dungeon of the game you’ll be able to get the hang of how Gurumin plays. The A button uses your drill, and you can hold the button down to unleash three levels of charge attacks, or use it in combination with the circle pad to unleash special moves. B is your jump which works as you’d expect, Y is the camera button which adjusts the camera to face your current direction, and X/ZL/ZR is your evasion move, which can be combined with the attack button to perform a headbutt or a special move. If you use the New Nintendo 3DS systems like I do, you’ll also be pleased to learn that the C-stick can be used to horizontally move the camera, which works great, although you can use the shoulder buttons if you either don’t have a new 3DS or just don’t like the C-stick in general.
Combat works similar to how it would in a 3D Legend of Zelda game, where attacking the enemy from a specific angle can trigger a weak point, dealing extra damage. However unlike Zelda, the targeting is automatic, and you can only really take advantage of the targeting system by doing an airborne attack. This can get really annoying if you’re trying to fight an enemy in a corner only to have the camera get in the way, which is why the special moves help out a lot since they cover a huge range. These special moves also depend heavily on the level of your drill, which can be refilled by defeating enemies, finding special patches of dirt or using energy oil to keep the max level of 3. Eventually you’ll gain elements for your drill, which open up even more weak points on certain enemies and bosses, depending on how cleverly you can use these elements. For example I was able to use the lighting element combined with a downward spiral attack to electrocute all enemies in a body of water, which helped me out quite a bit when going after the S+++ ranks.
Yes, you heard me right, Gurumin 3D is one of those action games that relies on a ranking system. Thankfully unlike the modern Sonic titles, getting these ranks doesn’t require you to pull your hair out since all you need to do to get a gold medal is destroy every vase, grab every treasure chest and defeat every enemy in each stage. If you can do all of that but in a short amount of time, you’ll get an S+++ ranking, which is the highest of all the ranks. This makes it so that with a little practice and familiarity of each stage you won’t need to lose sleep over making extremely picky time limits, something other games could learn from.
That being said, there’s a special set of medals that will give you a headache at first, and those are the platinum medals. At a random point in the story Parin’s Grandfather will tell her about super rare medals that are better than gold ones, and will ask you to find one in the town. If you get stuck and can’t find the special medal, you can choose to give up. What this game doesn’t tell you until its too late is that if you give up, even on accident the entire sidequest is gone forever, and you have to restart the entire game to try again. To save yourself the trouble, check his fireplace, but the idea of losing a major sidequest forever by rushing through the text or clicking the wrong option is just bad game design, although thankfully all these special medals do is unlock bonus art, so you aren’t missing out on much by skipping them, plus you CAN get another shot if you take on the game in New Game +. Even if you master the main story with all S ranks, you will want to replay this game thanks to the unlockable difficulty modes, which will eventually allow for a total of five options to choose from.
In conclusion, Gurumin makes the transition to the 3DS in a wonderful fashion, thanks to the handy nature of the touch screen, impressive 3D effect and a return to the portable scene combined with the fantastic level design, music and addicting gameplay. If you like Action RPGs or going out of your way to explore stages, then Gurumin 3D is the game for you. Outside of the irritating pop-in every now and then and the quirks that come from being a game from the year 2004, I had a blast with Gurumin 3D, and with plenty of unlockable gallery art, difficulties and other hidden goodies, Gurumin 3D is a great value that should not be missed, especially for the $15 price tag. I give Gurumin 3D a 9 out of 10, and I truly do recommend this to all action fans looking for something to scratch that Zelda/Metroid itch, or just someone looking for a fun and lengthy game to play.