For all the success and mass-appeal that Monster Hunter has in Japan, the series never seems to catch on in the West — but it should. Capcom’s four-player cooperative action RPG series isn’t as brutal, opaque, or as dark as From Software’s Demon’s Souls, but it’s still equally as rewarding: demanding the same painstaking levels of observation and skill to topple massive monsters — only to later turn them into weapons or accessories that match your trendy hunter’s hat.
I’ve spent over 11 hours with an import copy of Monster Hunter 3G for the Nintendo 3DS and have only begun to scratch the surface; but I’m happy to report that the transition to 3DS looks admirable — with advanced lighting systems and better controls in place. The Japan-only title includes enough improvements and gameplay to tide over fans until Monster Hunter 4, the next true sequel of the popular action RPG series that’s bound for 3DS. The only downside of this portable installment is that you’ll have to play through a majority of Tri again — or at least you will in offline mode — and even if you’ve spent considerable hours with the Wii version, there’s no solution in place to help import your save file onto a 3DS.
Click the image above to check out all the Monster Hunter 3G screens.
Although 3G requires veteran hunters to start over, it goes through the motions at a much faster pace by immediately granting access to every weapon type. Previously in Tri, new weapons like the Switch Axe would unlock over time by completing village quests — inevitably leading players to circumvent the gate system entirely by playing online. Thankfully 3G eliminates any reasons to resort to loopholes, and also reintroduces classic weapons from previous Monster Hunter titles that include dual swords, a hunting horn, and a mighty bow.
While the series enjoys a successful reputation as a premier video game series in Japan, the awkward controls implemented for the PSP always took some sort of flak. Specifically, performing the “Monster Hunter Claw” — a unique placement of the player’s left hand on the PSP that puts a thumb on the analog nub and an index finger on the d-pad for camera control — became a mandatory skill required for high level play despite the painful finger positioning. Thankfully the 3DS port alleviates the issue of building undesireable finger musculature through two unique implementations: The first is the Circle Pad Pro — a large 3DS add-on made by Nintendo that puts a second analog stick on the system — and the second maps camera controls to the touch screen using an iOS style virtual d-pad.