Gurumin connoisseurs frequently ask about the Rhythm Bar (or lack of one) and role that music plays in the game. It’s a great question that deserves a serious and more in-depth answer, so here goes.
As Mr. Yoshihiro Kondo, now President of Nihon Falcom and originally the scenario writer for Gurumin, mentioned in an interview some time ago with Honest Gamers, when the team at Nihon Falcom started playing with ideas for the game that became Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure they considered making it a dungeon digging and management simulator. That’s the reason Parin has a drill, by the way. At the time they had also thought about making it a music game. The dungeon management idea was completely dropped (though some maps drawn for it may have found their way into the final game), but the team really liked the music idea, and really didn’t like wasting work. But they definitely wanted an Action-RPG, not a Music-Action game.
What evolved from this was a compromise. The rhythm detection code was tied to the attack button, Critical Hits (useful for defeating enemies quickly, upgrading your drill, and forcing enemy Phantoms to drop Junk, which you can use to upgrade your headgear) credited for attacks on the beat. Attacks not on the beat are considered regular, still plenty potent.
However, and this is a big however, beat detection is very loose. In fact, the input can be off by roughly 1/3 of a beat to either direction (early or late) and it will still count as a hit. In actual practice, a player with solid, natural rhythm will perform better as they will consistently attack on the beat. Even someone playing with the sound turned off (though they’d be missing all that awesome Nihon Falcom Sound Team music and some great voice acting) would by pure chance get enough Criticals to progress in the game on Normal or Beginner mode. But without game audio they might struggle a bit on the unlockable Hard, Crazy and Happy modes later – thus illustrating just how integral Gurumin’s game audio actually is.
A timing bar was included when the game shipped on PC in Japan but was removed when the game released on PSP in Japan. Nihon Falcom removed the bar from the PSP partially because of concerns about making the bar look good in the available resolution, but mostly because they felt it was distracting, and caused players to focus too much on the beat and not enough on the “action” part of Action-RPG.
When Mastiff shipped the PC version of the game on Steam, we left in the Rhythm Bar, mainly out of deference for the Japanese PC version.
For the 3DS version Mastiff and Nihon Falcom discussed a Rhythm Bar, and even did a little experimentation. The 3DS, with its dual screen display, could certainly have supported the Rhythm Bar. However, the experience with the Japanese PC version held true on the 3DS. Leaving out the bar not only let us have a cleaner, less cluttered interface (who wants to look at the bottom screen constantly while fighting on the top, or constantly look up and down?) while, more importantly, keeping the players’ primary focus on the action, allowing the rhythm elements to be a fun and useful addition but not a distraction from core gameplay.
Interested in learning more about Gurumin? Have a burning question you’d like to drill us with? Join us on Twitter (@Gurumin3D) Thursday, July 21 from 3:00 – 5:00pm PST where we’ll be hosting our first-ever live Twitter chat! Use the hashtag #GURUMIN3D.