The Monster Hunter series is a frightening start for players who haven’t been on board since the beginning. There’s gold to be found within the excellent set of games, but it’s every bit of an overwhelming franchise for those just getting their feet wet. In case you didn’t know, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is actually a re-release of Monster Hunter Tri, which initially appeared on the Wii back in 2010. It’s largely the same release, but with a glut of quests and a higher rank cap and new cross-platform play between the Wii U and 3DS consoles. Monster Hunter Tri veterans and new Hunters alike should find plenty to do within the sprawling expanse of this port for their Nintendo platform-of-choice.
New players can emphasize with the new hunter character, who’s just gotten straight off the boat at Moga Village, a small village that’s been wracked by a massive earthquake. Of course, the inhabitants of the village believe it was caused by a Godzilla-sized monster stomping about the land. What better person to exterminate it than the hunger who’s just set foot into their land? Of course on the way to complete this gigantic quest, you’ll be able to help out villagers in need along the way.
After customizing your hunter with a myriad of options, you embark on your epic journey. From there, it’s time to beef up your arsenal and monster-slaying skills considerably. Monster Hunter has always been all about killing things to find more quick and efficient ways to kill other things – in a nutshell, anyway. The “things” in question are creatures of varying shapes and sizes. The village folk are quick to assign you low-level tutorial quests to get you started, with smaller low-level beasts to skin and return to nab better loot with. Like a well-oiled machine, conquering smaller mobs leads to your being able to take on larger hordes for greater rewards. Though you’ll be stuck with low-level quests and rewards for a good portion of the time, when you finally do start felling larger beasts for better rewards it’s a blast to see how you’re able to interact with more dangerous monsters and the world as a whole. Hunting, tracking, then killing or capturing a huge beast nets you a feeling of accomplishment like no other. These moments are what comprise the meat of the game, so it’s lucky that these battles are pretty engaging on their own.
Sometimes, however, larger beasts do take a significant amount of time to fell – you need the patience of a saint to burn through some of them, which presents an issue when it comes to the time limits and other constraints in-game. Should you fail to complete a quest before time runs out, most of the time you’ll have to restart the mission from the very beginning, something no one enjoys in any situation.
Monster battles are a mammoth undertaking in themselves, and sometimes they’re frustrating, since that’s basically all you do within the game. It can begin to grate on the nerves. Some bounties are long, plodding endeavors, and they can be painfully long, so for those impatient players who don’t particularly like having to chase after a certain bounty for a while, this might but them off the experience. There are also no health gauges, and when a target becomes out of reach or out of sight, it can be tough to track them down. Also, because of this, simply hacking away at a bounty won’t work in most cases. With little information to study behaviors, attack patterns, and machinations of the monsters, it’s an intriguing experience for sure, but it won’t be for everyone.
Developing and finding resources through trading and farming will cut down on having to wander around with these beasts though, and you’ll want to learn to combine items to further fortify your supply cache. There are plenty of ways to defend yourself at your disposal, from dual blades to bows, or even bow guns, twelve unique play styles. You’ll want to experiment with each type before deciding on one to master, and it’s a pretty exciting experience to do so.
As far as interacting with the world on the 3DS version, I wasn’t able to play with a Circle Pad Pro, which would have enhanced the experience exponentially. Controlling the camera was quite obnoxious in some situations, and using an on-screen control to orient yourself is quite frustrating and cumbersome. So while attacking is aided by a lock-on system, navigation can often be a head-scratching experience, once that often diminished my enjoyment. For those who haven’t splurged on the peripheral thus far, I recommend doing so for the least frustrating experience.
As far as playing with friends, a robust multiplayer mode is available, but it’s possible to tackle the game solo, as I did, though this obviously will require more work on your end to see the game through to completion. Seeing as the major appeal of the Monster Hunter franchise lies within recruiting friends to adventure with, it’s obvious you’ll want to try out this mode at least once for it to live up to its full potential.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate isn’t for everyone, but it’s a meaty translation of a popular game teeming with beasts to fell, treasure to uncover, and weapons to master. While its a re-release of Monster Hunter Tri for Wii, the added bonuses, new quests, and especially cross-platform play between the Wii U and 3DS consoles help make this one adventure that all diehard fans will be interested in. At least until the long-awaited arrival of Monster Hunter 4, which is no doubt the reason this re-release even exists. The Wii U and 3DS libraries are sorely lacking this kind of adventure in their repertoires, so support the franchise, pick it up, and encourage more releases to keep the hunt alive.