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Hunting for Monster Hunters
The Monster Hunter series is a phenomenon… In Japan. Back in the good old U.S.A., Monster Hunter is almost nonexistent. I won’t lie; when my friend tried to introduce the series to me I hated it. The game has so much to it that the in-game tutorial is an absolute necessity. This comes in the form of either books located in your hut or the training school instructor. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Just come on a hunt with your brother and me.” So I did just that. Compared to the game’s text based tutorial which had me set the game down for a while in between reads, their version sucked me into the universe of monsters and hunters immediately. Anything new we found out, whether by researching online or finding out for ourselves, we shared. That’s how I got into Monster Hunter. Now I know not everyone has friends that are already into the series. For that I say go online and look up videos for tutorials because the game’s version will put you to sleep in mere minutes. That takes for granted the idea that you may be looking to get into Monster Hunter. I’ve often wondered why Monster Hunter never took off over here so I decided to examine some of the possibilities.
Now even though Monster Hunter started life on the PlayStation 2, its popularity really peeked when it ventured to the PlayStation Portable. Now back in Japan, the PSP thrived. Here in America, while not completely failing, it did not have the same impact. This is probably the best reason Monster Hunter was not as big as it could have been. From its launch, the PSP has struggled to keep its head above water. Not only fighting the overwhelmingly popular Nintendo DS, the PSP also struggled against home based consoles. Even there, Sony lagged behind the behemoth that was the Xbox 360. In general, if a console is falling behind, why support its already chugging along hand held?
Following in the footsteps of bad console choices, Monster Hunter also made its way to the Nintendo Wii. The Wii has enjoyed success here in the states and Japan so a jump to this console should have given the series the boost it needed. This was not the case. While being enjoyed by all types of gamers in Japan, the Wii gained a more childish or casual stigma here. Even if a gamer that was slightly interested in Monster Hunter owned a Wii, they may have been put off thinking it was going to be more child friendly or have strange and confusing motion controls.
Having noted some of the console problems the series have had, it’s time to take a look at the game itself. I first want to point out that I consider myself a child at heart, but when Monster Hunter itself was described to me as being “kiddy” or “childish”, I was a tad confounded. Sure I don’t keep up with all the trends that come and go but when did slaying giant monsters with swords and hammers become childish? Is it the monster aspect? Are adults not supposed to enjoy giant monsters anymore? Sure things fluctuate in popularity but to label giant creatures straight out of the imagination only for kids, I just don’t get it. Perhaps it’s the idea of donning armor and a sword. Medieval knights slaying dragons are featured a lot in children stories and fairy-tales but is society telling me now that as an adult, I’m not supposed to see this as interesting or entertaining? Is it so taboo to like these things that we fear how people will perceive us? I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I seem to have gotten a little off topic so let’s get back on track.
The one complaint that seems to have any merit at all is that some who have played Monster Hunter say it can get monotonous. The game does require a great deal of grinding for certain items to either craft or upgrade weapons and armor. While I can sympathize that hunting for these specific items that only certain monsters drop at very low rates can make the game a little stale but, like everything, take it in strides. If it starts to get tedious, put the game down for a bit. Now this isn’t required to progress in the game but, if the player wishes to have the best gear, it will be necessary.
The number of beasts featured in this game, while very numerous, are not endless. As players progress, tasks to hunt the same monsters they already have will appear, but with a higher difficulty. As a seasoned hunter, I can honestly say that there are monsters that I’d wish to never fight twice, let alone once (coughPlesiothcough). Sure it can be tiring to fight the same monster every difficulty level but it’s not game breaking. The upgraded difficulty will also force the player to further adapt their strategies. There are even quests where the player is pitted against two of the same monster or two unique ones, thus putting a new spin on things.
Monster Hunter 4 is right around the corner, this time bringing the beasts to the 3DS. Japan has already seen one release of Monster Hunter on the new hand held and having played it, I truly believe that if the series can make a comeback here in the states, it’ll be with the help of the 3DS. The addition of the Circle Pad Pro makes Monster Hunter feel right at home, maybe even more so than it did on the PSP. The 3DS had a rocky start but with the recent price drop, it has made its way into the hearts of many gamers. The decision ultimately falls on Capcom. Will they try once more to bring the beasts to America? One can only hope. It’s a prime time to introduce the series to new gamers and reestablish the connection they once had with veteran hunters.