Gurumin 3D (3DS eShop) Review

gurumin-3ds

Title: Gurumin 3D
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (played on 3DS XL model)
Developer: Opus Studio/iNPLAS/Nihon Falcom
Publisher: Mastiff
Release Date: October 13, 2016 (NA),October 27th, 2016 (EU)
Price: $14.99/$19.99 (US/CAN)

Review copy provided by Mastiff

Note that all screenshots shown are pre-release screens, since the game’s Miiverse community is not yet open to take my own screenshots with

After almost 6 years into the 3DS’ lifespan, we finally see a Nihon Falcom JRPG on the system. That JRPG is Gurumin 3D, a 3DS port of a PC and PSP game from over a decade ago. Falcom however only had a supervisory role in the port, instead it was mostly built by Opus Studio and iNPLAS. Opus actually previous worked on the Steam release of the PC version of Gurumin last year, so they already have experience (they might have even did both at the same time).

Gurumin 3D is based on the PSP version. This is very apparent in the graphics of the game, but I’ll get to that in a bit. This is basically a Action JRPG and Platformer hybrid, but in terms of an RPG, it’s not exactly what you’d think it is. Before I begin, I want to clarify that I’ve already clocked in over 4 hours of playtime into the game and have beaten five or so dungeons and beaten at least one boss so far.

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Parin in Tiese Town

The game stars Parin (but you can choose your name at the start of the game), and she’s come to the village named Tiese Town to live with her Grandpa (named Hyperbolic) who is the mayor of the town. She wants to make friends, but there are no kids in the town, just mostly Miners. So after you explore the town for a bit, and speaking with some of the characters present, a cutscene will start where Parin saves a little girl being attacked by a dog. As it turns out, this is no ordinary girl, she is actually a monster! The girl (named Pino) is then joined by her brother Puku. Both take Parin to the Monster Village which is located through a small hole in a wall near your house.

That’s when the game basically starts to get going. You can get to this part after about 8-10 minutes of starting. Once you arrive and the CG intro plays, you are able to immediately acquire the main weapon of the game; a drill. This drill is your main means of attacking phantoms, the enemies of the game. With this drill, you can perform combo moves and use a charge-up attack, and also use it in a Sonic Adventure-style homing attack to get across gaps.

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Parin in a dungeon

Being a drill, you can use it to drill certain objects. These can be rocks, trees, pillars, and even walls. You do this by holding down the A button after you hit it once to attack. You only need to hold it for a split second (your drill will start to glow as it charges) and then you will do a second-long drill. Upon breaking various things, you get coins (called Pockles) to spend in the shop and other places as your main currency in the game.

You can also collect coins in jars, from defeated enemies, breakable objects, etc. Another collectable are the junk pieces. These are obtained from phantoms wearing gear (armor, weapons, etc). You have to use a charge attack to get the junk pieces off of them to acquire them (they’re just counted as one kind of junk piece, shown as an icon on the bottom left of the screen alongside the coin icon). You use junk pieces to upgrade your gear at the shop in town. This is the main RPG mechanic in the game; you don’t gain experience and increase your level in the traditional way. This is more like Monster Hunter in a sense. You start off with a free pair of goggles which reduce water damage. Gear you collect starts at Lv. 1, and you spend a certain amount of junk pieces to upgrade them (10 to upgrade the goggles to Lv. 2, 50 to Lv. 3, etc). For example, Lv. 1 Goggles reduces water damage by half, upgrading them to Lv. 2 give you immunity to water damage, Lv. 3 adds 25% damage reduction to them also, and so on. Speaking of damage, you can also find and purchase candy to heal your health. You can also find Healing Points that heal you back to full health after a couple of seconds. It’s a good idea to hold off on the candy until you need it, however, you only have a limited amount of space for each candy to carry, otherwise if you find one in a chest, you can’t take it.

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Parin in the Monster Village with her monster friends

Once you arrive in Monster Village, you are told of the phantoms threatening the village. You then proceed to the first dungeon, and upon reaching the end, the phantoms attack the village in your absence. Your monster friends are not only now mostly homeless, but their furniture is missing. There’s also a Dark Mist covering most of the world. Your job is to explore dungeons, find a piece of furniture in each, and bring them back to their owner, who then with gratitude somehow shoots a ball of light into the sky, clearing some of the mist (I have no clue why they don’t just do this in the first place). This is the basic premise of the game. In one dungeon, you actually do fight a big boss (named Bob). Here you have to figure out how to break off his armor (it falls off and he then tries to run towards it). This boss wasn’t too difficult once you knew what to do (I won’t giveaway any gameplay tips here 😉 ).

Dungeons are like you’d expect; get from Point A to Point B, fight bad guys (phantoms), collect treasure, etc. The end of the dungeon usually has an aforementioned piece of furniture in a glowing ball for you to collect. Upon doing so, you’re graded on your performance; number of the enemies defeated, the number of chests opened and jars broken, time, and if you lose all of your health and get a Game Over or not. Once that is tallied, you get a ranking of (seemingly) up to at least S+. Depending on the grade, you get a medal. You can then bring these medals back to your Grandpa to trade the silver and bronze medals for money, or a certain number of gold medals for new items.

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The first boss, Bob

The story and characters are a highlight, being fully-voice-acted by some pretty notable names such as Tara Strong (Timmy Turner in The Fairly Odd Parents), Dee Bradley Baker (Daffy Duck in Space Jam), Michael Gough (Zazu in Timon & Pumbaa), among others. The voice-acting itself however is a bit iffy, I mean I wouldn’t call it a good example of their capabilities, maybe it was meant to be hammy and whatnot, or it could be dubbing issues (lip-syncing is near non-existent to begin with here). Music-wise it’s good in general but not terribly memorable, so far I only really liked the World Map track personally. Sound effects are a mixed bag and the reason will be coming up soon, but they’re good, like how when Parin jumps, she audibly has a spring in her step as it were, which is very cute! Stuff sounds like what they should, so that’s good at least. Combat is another highlight, and when you get going, it gets CRAZY. There’s one dungeon where you can insert some coins to make an enemy appear. Beat this enemy, and you can then insert a higher amount of coins for an even stronger enemy (all enemies in this have gear to collect as junk). This goes on for MANY fights and each get progressively harder. The trick is the homing attack move, where you can really wail on the opponent like crazy and it is unbelievably satisfying when you get that rhythm going. There is an end to the gauntlet and you get a present upon beating the last enemy. Don’t worry about the coin fees, since you’ll likely make more money just by defeating the enemy than you would spend. I ended up having more money than I started that section with in the end.

Now I’d like to get into the problems with the game, because there are QUITE a few. First of all, the game needed quite a bit more time in the oven, and I’m surprised as the game went without a release date until like a week or two from launch. Most of the issues are apparent as quickly as mere minutes into the game. First; when the Falcom logo pops up upon boot-up, the audio pops. I tested that multiple times, it happened every single time. When you first play the game, the framerate is pretty iffy, jumping between 20-30 frames per second, maybe even less. Next, upon going into the Monster Village for the first time, the CG Intro will play and… its aspect ratio is wrong; it’s a bit squished horizontally. More issues arise in the audio department; when a loading screen happens (and it’s often, though brief luckily), the music will skip every time. Sound effects will also be missing at numerous times, as well as these BIZARRE occasions when Parin’s voice will go deep. This happens here and there at random points when attacking. I have a feeling that this is not deliberate. Another issue is the camera. Oh dear, that poor camera. You can rotate it with L and R, and use Y to position it right behind you, but it REALLY gets in the way at times and when you’re in a cramped area, it gets really close to you and makes it hard to even see where you are. Remember though that this IS a game from 2004 on PC (and 2006 on PSP), so it suffering from long-past issues are kind of expected bar it being a remake. It does have C-Stick support on a New 3DS though (note that I only played the game on a regular 3DS XL unit).

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The World Map

Graphics are another issue. The game isn’t pretty. Comes with the territory with it being a port of a PSP game that’s a decade old, but still, there’s the higher-quality Steam release to pull assets from. The only change from PSP to 3DS was the addition of the cel-shaded character models from the Steam release (that version of which doesn’t look beyond the 3DS’ capabilities)… and that’s it. The game does support 3D which functions both in-game and in cutscenes, so that’s a plus. On a pure-graphical standpoint however, it’s ugly, particularly in textures. The camera is up-close all the time in cutscenes, so you often see very pixelated eyes and ground textures, VERY blurry plant sprites, etc. Another issue is the draw distance, literally at the edge of the screen some objects like coins will vanish until they are more near the inside the screen, not to mention even being a few feet from coins will cause them to vanish period. Another thing (though in the PSP version also) is this bizarre thing where NPCs and enemies will run at 15fps, likely to help with the performance on PSP. This isn’t unlike in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS for which Masahiro Sakurai himself made the assist trophies run at 30fps while the rest of the game would run at 60fps to help with the performance. It’s still awkward to see in Gurumin (on both systems) though. It is worth noting that Falcom did NOT have any involvement with the coding, with the port again having been done by Opus Studio and iNPLAS, so those two had to work with another developer’s code, and worry about porting from one architecture to another. A lot of these issues however should have been ironed out before release. None of these issues are game-breaking, but that doesn’t mean they should’ve been ignored in my opinion.

As for the bottom screen, you get a HUD display on it and it’s… okay I guess? All it’s used for is displaying what items you have equipped (which are already shown on the top screen). There’s also no map to speak of, which would be VERY handy in some places like in one of the forest dungeons. Speaking of which, another kind of equipment you can acquire are parts for your drill to give you attributes, such as Fire Parts to allow you to light up torches to progress in a few places.

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The items menu

All in all, it’s hard to gauge. The game CLEARLY has great things in it, but the issues in the 3DS version are what hold it back. I’ve played the PSP version for a bit (right alongside the 3DS version), and basically most of the 3DS-specific issues are absent. The game only costs $15 to those in the US (and $20 in Canada), and for the money, I’d say it’s very worth it if you honestly don’t mind the aforementioned issues. Remember also that this was a retail game on PSP, and having an all-new port of that game for the price of an indie game? THAT’S a good deal regardless, but if the issues do bother you, well, waiting for a sale wouldn’t hurt. I HIGHLY applaud Mastiff nonetheless for taking the initiative, literally doing what practically NO other publisher ever bothers; being willing to commission an all-new port of a Japanese game from a non-Nintendo system, onto a Nintendo system, even if said game is really old. This is a practice quite common on PC/Steam these days. I wish that these happened more often on Nintendo hardware. Know what other game could fit this bill on 3DS that Mastiff localized years ago? La Pucelle Tactics on PS2 by Nippon Ichi (also on PSP in Japan-only as La Pucelle Ragnarok), just saying Mastiff. 😉

You’ll Love:
+ The combat is incredibly fun when you wail on opponents and get that rhythm going with that homing attack.
+ The art style is actually nice for the time and platform it originated on.
+ Characters and full-voice-acting are definitely enjoyable, though the latter isn’t exactly perfect.
+ Collecting items and upgrading your equipment is definitely fun.
+ Music pretty good so far, with the World Map track being my personal favourite so far.
+ For an all-new port of a retail PSP game? The price is VERY good.
+ It’s fun running around and exploring dungeons and other areas.
+ The game has lots of save files and allows you to save ANYWHERE, which I highly appreciate.
+ Aside from outdoors in Tiese Town and the World Map, the camera can be fully rotated at will.

You’ll Hate:
– The aforementioned technical issues, and there’s a lot of them, such as the framerate, the audio issues, draw-distance, the CG Intro video aspect ratio, etc.
– The 3DS version is a port of a decade-old PSP game, and it shows its age a bit, if that makes sense.
– The camera getting in the way.
– Jumping between small platforms. It can be a bit difficult to control your exact jump trajectory.
– No retail release, but at least the price is lower to reflect that, which is very nice and appreciated as said.
– The highly missed opportunity with the bottom screen and it not having a map when you’re in dungeons at least.

Score: 7/10 (it’d be an easy 8/10 were it not for the technical issues)

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2 comments on “Gurumin 3D (3DS eShop) Review

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