Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure - hands-on

We drill through the first layers of this weirdly charming action-RPG

The PSP doesn't have too much in the way of quality action-RPGs, but there's one looming on the horizon that might slip under your radar if you're not careful. Due out Feb. 13, Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is the achingly cute story of Parin, a lonely little girl who wanders through forests, ruins and dungeons killing things with a rock drill. It's not exactly Zelda, but given the rest of the offerings for the PSP right now, it's about as close as you'll get on Sony's handheld for a while.

We've spent some time playing through Gurumin, and so far we like what we see. The game is less of an action-RPG than it is a platformer with RPG elements; most of the action revolves around thwacking monsters with the drill while hopping through interesting dungeons, all of which are packed with puzzles and things to smash. Also, Parin doesn't really "level up" in a traditional sense; instead, you'll upgrade your equipment, with new drill parts, costumes and protective items unlocking new attacks and abilities.

Parin can do some pretty cool stuff, too, like running on walls, or alternating attacks and jumps to use floating enemies as aerial stepping stones. Her drill gains and loses power depending on how well you fight - kill enemies and it rises, get hit and it falls - and it shoots lasers when it's fully powered up. It can also be imbued with elemental powers (think fire and ice attacks, which also factor into puzzles), and if you use charged-up strikes, it can disarm enemies and reduce just about anything to rubble, including certain walls.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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