Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure Preview: Launch Edition

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Mastiff is launching Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure today on Steam. While at this year’s Game Developers Conference, I had a chance to sit down and play the game with Bill Swartz, the CEO of Mastiff.

I managed to get my hands on Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure for a short period of time after our interview. The game runs beautifully, and really shines despite being over a decade old. The visual enhancements that Mastiff has applied to the game really bring out the colors and the characters, providing for a very, very fun experience.

Gurumin plays very nicely on a USB controller. You assume the role of Parin, a young girl who ventures into a small crack in the rear of her town, which leads her to the Monster Village. Parin shortly discovers the legendary drill, a weapon that will aid her in helping save the Monster Village from the phantoms attacking her friends.

Players can expect a mix of 3D platforming elements with a heavy focus on action via timing-based combat. There’s a meter at the top of the screen that fills up as you fight, allowing Parin to unleash special attacks with her drill (more of which she unlocks with time), such as shooting projectiles from it. One of the coolest things about the game is the world map, which is filled with 30 levels that essentially let you progress in non-linear fashion.

The game oozes with charm, a really fun breakaway from the regular type of role-playing games that you see coming out of storied developer Nihon Falcom. I enjoyed playing the new version of the game so much that I truly wish that Falcom would give new experiences like Gurumin a chance, but that’s a subject for another time. I asked Swartz what changes the team had made to Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure for Steam.

“We modernized it,” he replied. “We fixed the camera, which was a little wonky in the original. We added a help system, a save system which we also fixed, we added all the Steam bells and whistles: Steam cloud, Big Pictures, Achievements, Trading Cards, an online manual, controller support. This is a modern experience, and I think fixing the camera has had a huge impact.” In comparison to the original, this version of the game runs in “1080p with MSAA filtering for a crisper, more modern look. It’s 60 frames a second, it’s pretty rock solid.” The developers of the port guarantee that even on older hardware, the game “won’t go below 20.”

I wondered how difficult it had been for them to secure the rights to the game.

“Oh the rights were easy,” said Swartz. “We already had a relationship with Nihon Falcom, they’re great people to work with. That wasn’t difficult at all. The hard part frankly, was the way the code was written—we took to modernizing it. Even that worked out far better than expected, and NHF has been a great resource for us. When we had a question—the original programmer isn’t there, but whenever we had a question or an obscure gameplay thing came up, they’re always right on it. In a twist of fate, one of the designers (Toshihiro Kondo) is now the president of Nihon Falcom.”

I think fans and newcomers alike will be really happy with the port that Mastiff has put out here—Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure on Steam really is an upgrade on the original, so much so that it immediately prompted me towards hoping to see Mastiff get their hands on porting other Falcom games to Steam.

Mastiff are looking to port the remastered game to consoles as well, but that would be dependent on the Steam sales. As for whether they intend to branch out into more Falcom games in the future: “I’d love to, they’re a great company, they’ve done great stuff, they’re great to work with. There’s nothing I can talk about right now, but it’s certainly a close relationship. As I said, I think they’ve been fantastic to work with, and I’d like to think they’re pretty pleased with us, so I certainly think it could happen.”

You can find Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure on GOG and on Steam. Niche Gamer will have a review for the game soon—please stay tuned!

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Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry.

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