Musing: Hunting Monsters.

So have you ever had something you like, but could never quite get into because of its imperfections?   At a glance it looks amazing, but once you take a few steps closer and bust out the magnifying glass you see all those imperfections?  That’s my relationship with Monster Hunter.

Capcom has been releasing these bad boys for some time now.  Most of the titles have been nestled on the PSP, a handheld I have a love hate relationship with.   It’s no secret that I love my 3DS.   There’s something to love about being able to get a gaming fix without needing to boot up a console, or having to sit through giant load times.   Even if I’m not in a portable setting, I find myself drawn to the duo screened wonder.   Thanks to it I can play a game for seconds if need be.   Which some titles, like Fire Emblem Awakening, I only need seconds.  Take that Angry Birds!

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Sorry! Wrong house!

I  picked up Monster Hunter on the Wii U not too long ago.  And let me tell you, it evolved my relationship with Monster Hunter.   Don’t expect me to sing praises of the Wii U’s tablet controller or anything like that… the system still has a great deal to prove to me.    What I can say, is that  Monster Hunter Ultimate fixed several problems I have with the series without turning into something else.   If anything, it makes the flaws of the game seem intentional and natural (in the same vein the original Resident Evil limits mobility).

First off (for the sake of my cred) I have never gotten very far in a Monster Hunter game.   The biggest rival I face is the poop flinging pink monkey, stand triumphant and realize the flaws are not worth enduring.    I assumed at first:  Oh!   It’s because it’s on my TV now!   It’s all shiny, pretty, and easy to see!   While the game looks good.   It’s not next gen to any extent.    The textures are dated and you can see the chunky graphics in glorious HD now!  Still it’s a pretty game.

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Wii U Version

monster_hunter_3_ultimate_02_3DS

3DS Version

Yes.   Visibility is improved and the screen on your U-Pad  (see what I did there?) is nifty, but it isn’t even close to the primary improvement.   It wasn’t until I played the 3ds version that I realized it’s true strengths.   The game shows you the fun of hunting monsters without beating around the bush.   Previous installments never gave  the idea that you were being patronized by the game.   It never told you how anything worked.   the process of crafting armor is intimidating in Monster Hunter.   But Ultimate walks you through everything without the condescending head pats other games do.

Other games do: “Push forward on the left analogue stick to walk!”  “Press a to jump!”   Um… game.   I know this.   Please.   I can figure that out by mashing buttons.   In fact you get rewarded for it in MH3U.   Nothing quite beats the rush of discovering a trick that nets you a big ass dragon trying to eat your face.

Instead, MH3U lets you discover the neat tricks about your weapon of choice.   (Oh, and for the record.   The game gives you one of each to let you play around without needing to blow hard to earn zenny early on!)

My huntress “Naida” (I know you’re all shocked about that one) sports dual blade, crafted from the spines of a giant Wyverns she killed by stabbing it.   How metal is that?

I started to play the 3ds version because the game sports couch multi-player with the Wii U version.   Cross platform play.  Also I can transfer my Wii U character to 3ds back and forth.   That is when I realized that MH3U isn’t that different from the games of the past.  The control layout is the same on the 3ds, but I’m told the Circle Pad Pro brings it up to the Wii-U’s play-ability.

Other than that, little changes such as the game automatically selecting your lowest quality mining pick near nodes activated by pressing A, makes the game much less tedious.

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Setting up shop is actually relaxing and intuitive after being chased by two story tall dragons.

Let me tell you up front.   This game is more fun with friends.   However, it has online options.   You don’t need to fight with people over items as everything is phased.  When the beastie dies, everyone gets their three carves from its dead body for random loot and extra items handed out based on how well you all did.   You get rewarded for cutting off tails, mutilating horns, trimming wings, breaking teeth, and other extremities.

A warning, the fights can take a long time.   A ‘hunt’ gives you 50 minutes to bag and tag the target.   At first that seems like not enough time, but as you go on.   You will find yourself mining as you watch the target flee between zones.   This is a plus for the 3DS version.   Single player is pause-able.   So on your lunch break you can start a hunt and consider through the second half of the day how you’re going to trap the target alive rather than kill it.

I recommend Monster Hunter to the D&D crowd as hunts often feel like campaigns.   And the preparation and team-work that comes from it can bring people together.

There is a great deal of inspiration to be drawn from adventures from friends as well.

Good Hunting.   …and see you on Friday!

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