Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure


From legendary developer Falcom, primarily known for the Ys games comes… uh, this.

Parin, who is kind of a jerk, gets sent to live in a mining town by her wildly irresponsible parents who totally suck, and finds herself the only child in the village. Bored out of her mind, she eventually discovers a hidden town of monsters living in the shadows and alleyways, and immediately befriends them, as any of us would do. (Then again, given the alarmingly predatory dialogue from one NPC who is intent on dating her, I can’t say she’s made the wrong choice.)

I’m not sure if there’s a specific term that can be used to describe the design and eccentricity of the monster characters, so I’ll call it ‘late 90s/early 2000s low budget Japanese console game’ and you probably have a good idea of what I mean.

Her monster friends, it turns out, are under attack by Phantoms, which are like monsters except Bad. And so, Parin acquires the legendary sword giant drill with which to combat the phantoms. No one in town has a problem with this.

The spirit of Falcom is prevalent throughout Gurumin, but it seems to have been a B Team project. All the edges are just a little fuzzier and more rounded off than is typical for Falcom; the Ys games are most known for their lightning quick and precise combat systems, while Gurumin is definitely more of a ‘press attack until you win’ kind of affair. The platforming is questionable at best and everything just feels a bit janky.

Fin or Bin:

And yet! It’s fun. Lacking polish yes, and don’t think I didn’t notice repeated use of the same room layouts in the dungeons, but the core gameplay is fun enough that I want to play more. Falcom know what they’re doing, even when they’re taking it easy. Fin! Watch the gameplay stream here.


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Black And White

With 69 other games on my backlog (heh… nice), it can be hard to justify going back to an old flame. I definitely fudged the rules to allow Black And White through. Can I justify it by saying I haven’t played it since 2001, when I was an idiot kid who got bored the moment the game became slightly challenging?

As the one who came up with the rules, I say: Yes. Yes I can.

Black And White is the project of infamous games developer Peter Molyneux, a man whose portrait appears besides the dictionary definition for “ambitious”; his ideas often being 5-10 years ahead of the technology to upkeep them, we all love him regardless for his earnest belief and genuinely impressive results.

However as discussed before, inpressive doesn’t often correlate with fun, and that’s definitely the case here.

The Creature, then; the main attraction of this title, and the natural next step for the Tamagotchi -> Pokemon progression- an artificial intelligence capable of thinking, feeling, and learning was spectacular at the time. Your Creature learns to act by watching you- if you help the villagers by gathering food, your creature will also do so, and if you lay waste to your villagers with lightning- well, he’ll decide you wanted to do that to the next village over as well, and ruin your game, so try not to let him see you being Bad.

Playing with the Creature is fun, and teaching him the ways to spread belief in you as a god is neat to watch, but that’s also where the game falls apart. Progression is agonisingly, tectonically slow, with non-believers apparently needing you to do everything short of wiping their bottoms for them before they’ll come to your side.

The villagers, too, do not benefit from any kind of artificial intelligence, frequently complaining that they dont have enough babies and don’t know how to make more. Now, I don’t mean to judge, but I’m given to understanding that that kind of thing is supposed to come naturally to folks, you know? It certainly doesn’t usually require the intervention of a god.

Fin or Bin:

I have already played past the hour, making this automatically a Fin. I did go into it with intent to complete it now I’m older and wiser, but I’m thinking my younger self had the right idea after all. It’s an absolute drag, and level 3 goes beyond the pail by taking the Creature away for an extended period. The RTS section of this game just does not hold up at all, and I don’t know that I’ll be able to stomach going much further.

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