By Joel McCabe / February 20th, 2013
There was a time where Sony could do no wrong and nearly everyone loved the PlayStation brand. This was the start of the Monster Hunter IP, where a group of friends could band together on their PSP’s and take on massive monsters to preserve humanity… or go solo against the horde, playing out every child’s heroic fantasies. And then things changed, in more than one way. Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii not only afforded online play with anyone, but was also the highest-grossing title in the franchise on this side of the Pacific to date. No longer forced to get together in physical groups, online co-op play became the new standard…and Sony has remained silent before Nintendo’s open embrace.
Now, the producer of the series, Ryozo Tsujimoto has commented that moving the series to the Wii U and the 3DS is a logical and natural fit for the next iteration, and I do not doubt him. He has said that “when we decided to make the game on the Wii U, we actually brought out the game on 3DS first – the 3DS version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate came out in Japan about a year ago, so the game was designed from the very beginning to have that two-screen interaction… The Wii U was a perfect fit because of the fact it has the two screens and you’re able to do cross-compatibility between the 3DS and the Wii U. It just made a lot of sense for us to bring that experience into the living room, into the HD realm.” It seems that this series is showing a bright future for re-cementing the bonds between Capcom and Nintendo from long ago.
Also, the way that the GamePad is integrated into the gameplay as a whole speaks volumes about this team’s ability to recognize the value behind this unique hardware. Speaking about in-hunt use, Tsujimoto commented about how the playtesters found it difficult at times to be able to keep their avatar moving while being targeted by the monster AND formulating new healing items, or more ammo for Bow and Bowgun users. (In other words, a learned skill in the extreme!) Indeed, I can recall many hunts hinging on being able to anticipate the monster’s actions with split-second reflexes, while still navigating menus that obscured half the visual area of the screen – a difficult task by any definition. With the ability of the Wii U GamePad, those days of clunky menus and harried actions are long gone.
“We made it so that you can customize the Wii U GamePad screen to how you want to play, so actually if you don’t want to put anything on that second screen, you don’t have to. So if you don’t want the map on the main screen, you can put it on the Wii U GamePad, but if you just want to use the GamePad as a controller and look at the big screen, you can do that too. It’s really all about providing player choice and making it possible for player’s to customize it the way they want.”
Obviously, more time and effort was put into allowing players to find their own way to play and become effective hunters with this version of Monster Hunter, something that has been a long time coming ever since the franchise’s beginnings in 2004.
Is there any backlash from this new ability and more content in this version of Monster Hunter Tri? Some may say yes, because both the main TV screen and the GamePad monitor will be in use at all times; the ‘switching’ functionality for the Wii U has been disabled. Tsujimoto explains this issue with “the way that we approach making the title for the Wii U was that we wanted to make the Wii U GamePad subscreen a complement to the main screen. So instead of making the screens replaceable or being able to switch them, we really wanted to make sure that players are utilizing both real estate of the screens, in conjunction with each other.”
On the other hand, forming a group of hunters with individual 3DS systems centered around a Wii U has shown excellent results. Add in the promise of FREE DLC content and quests available from launch day and far into the future, as promised from Tsujimoto himself, and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will indeed become a shining example for the franchise as a whole in how to make both fans and newcomers happy. A free demo of the title will be available on both the Wii U and 3DS eShops starting February 21st.
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