Monster Hunter has been an enduring enjoyment of mine. It was the reason why I bought a Playstation Portable a few years back, and it is one of the factors that make me happy to be a Nintendo 3DS owner today. Like finely aged wine, Capcom’s behemoth franchise proves that if the systems ain’t broke, just don’t fix it. Let me explain why.
Like its predecessors Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate puts you in the shoes of a nameless hunter assigned to the seaside village of Moga, and is entrusted with the dutiful task of slaying the local aggressive wildlife. Like its Wii counterpart, the current iteration puts a heavy emphasis on aquatic themes and seaside life; upon arrival, Moga’s elder brings you up to speed and tells you about a certain wyvern that’s been causing havoc as of late, preventing them from carrying out their daily fare. Lagiacrus, which was the flagship wyvern from the Wii Monster Hunter Tri title, takes the reigns of your first few chapters in the village and will serve as the primary wall you must overcome before unraveling the rest of the narrative.
A good number of functional and visual upgrades make this handheld title a far superior rendition of the previous Wii version, the most notable of which would be the touchscreen interface. Completely customizable the bottom part of the 3DS provides a hasty way to manipulate your gameplay, allowing access to shortcuts such as combination recipes, area maps, your full inventory and even a new lock-on button that allows you to center on a main monster within the same area. Although one of the touchscreen functions is a virtual directional pad, I found it extremely difficult to deal with. This game is best played with the Circle Pad Pro; your handheld (and
sanity) will thank you for it.
The game takes full advantage of the handheld’s streetpass system, allowing you to tag other hunters you pass by anywhere. Dubbed “Hunters for Hire”, the system allows you to send the hunters you’ve tagged to various missions ranging from simple gathering quests to hunting quests. It’s a nifty function that gives added benefits to walking around with your device around malls and other places other players might frequent. I average at least two streetpasses each time I go outside; it’s a nice way to meet other players indirectly without having to go with the game’s established way of exchanging guild cards.
Capcom took liberties in expanding Tri’s established weapons systems by adding the magnificent gunlance, the hard-hitting hunting horn, the versatile bow and the speedy dual swords to the hunter’s arsenal. Other fun additions include new wyverns such as the noxious Brachydios, the creature that adorns the game’s Japanese cover.
Overall this is an excellent addition to an already powerful franchise, further augmented by its iteration into the successful Nintendo 3DS system. Sure us hardened PSP hunters are quite dismayed by the move but it’s the love for the game that separates true fans from the rest of the pack, and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate simply delivers.