Monster Hunter – Why I like it, and why it will never be popular outside of Japan

July 7, 2009

Monster Hunter is an aptly named game because it’s all about hunting monsters. It’s a huge game in Japan. HUGE. It has sold millions of copies and when the latest title was released, national productivity actually dipped. How insane is that?

Rawr

Rawr

In the west, the series has a dedicated following, but it is nothing compared to what it’s like in Japan. Why is that? Why doesn’t every God-fearing American share my love for this series? The biggest reason: no wi-fi multiplayer.

Let’s face it. These games are not as fun by yourself. Out of the box, you can only play this game ad-hoc. That might be cool in Japan where every other person owns the game and they have special conventions and gatherings just so people can get together, but that doesn’t fly in America. This is a big country and unless you have friends who are also way into Monster Hunter, then chances are you’re out of luck. The fanbase found a way around this with Xlink Kai, a program that tricks your PSP into believing it’s connected ad-hoc when really you’re using wi-fi, but the casual consumer isn’t going put up with that.

The camera in this game is another weak point. Some critics say you need a lock on button, but I disagree. Being able to lock on isn’t a viable solution because some monsters have multiple points where you can attack them. It would ruin the game if you could lock onto their individual body parts because each monster is like a puzzle. If you don’t have anything to figure out then what’s the point? The only solution is one that can’t be done. The PSP needs a second analog nub. Other games would benefit from this too, so lets hope Sony realizes this for the PSP 2.0. Getting raped by a huge dragon is no fun when it’s the cameras fault.

Needs more analog

Needs more analog!

Some of the things this game has going for it is the art style and the loot treadmill. Damn this game has some loot. Why did I play Diablo 2 for hundreds of hours? Getting that next face melting sowrd or hot piece of armor. Monster Hunter has that in spades, except you really have to work for it. When you kill a monster, your carve their corpse and get all kinds of fun ingredients. These ingredients are taken to the blacksmith, who then whips up some sweet armor and weapons. It’s a neat system where your stuff looks like it was made from what you’re killing.

I will end you

I will end you

The monsters themselves are diverse and well designed. Everything from wyverns, giant crabs, dragons, and even a few hovering squid beasts. The visual design of everything from the monsters, to the weapons and armor is all top notch. Some people might complain about this game being too hard, and it is. But you’re killing giant monsters. Half of which breath fire and death. It would be weird if this game wasn’t challenging. And because of the challenge, it is that much more rewarding when you finally take down a beast that keeps deep sixing you.

He wants to have his way with you

He wants to have his way with you

I want Monster Hunter to be a success in the West. I want all the cool merchandise like models and aprons and comic books. The problem is I just don’t see that happening with the most recent release, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite. Capcom gave it more of a marketing push, and the fans gobbled it up, and maybe a few newcomers jumped on the bandwagon, but this won’t be the title that makes it big. My hope is that when/if Monster Hunter 3 is released over here, it will be the hit Capcom is looking for. It’s a Wii title so it will have droves more potential concumers, and hopefully a fearsome dragon on the cover will be enough to lure in the unsuspecting consumer. I can dream, can’t I?

Until next time Monster Hunter fans, happy hunting!

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3 Responses to “Monster Hunter – Why I like it, and why it will never be popular outside of Japan”

  1. rapefruit Says:

    doesnt the psp go (or whatever) come with 2 analogs?
    will you get one?

    • Matt McArdle Says:

      The PSPGo still only has one analog. It’s a redesign as opposed to a completely new iteration of the device. I might get one eventually, but not at launch.

  2. david.rose Says:

    listen up! I love MHF2U and Icant wait for tri on the Wii. Ithink its bull that JAPAN gets everything and dumb america gets squat!!!!!


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