Monster Hunter is known for being an online game. It enjoyed huge success on PSP, especially in Japan, thanks to its online gameplay and absorbing monster hunting experience. So it's surprising to learn that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate's multiplayer fun on 3DS is going to come from playing with fellow 3DS owners in the house of a mate who owns the game on Wii U. Confused? Fear not! Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate's producer, Ryozo Tsujimoto, has explained the decision:
"When we were developing the game we were looking into [online play] but there were some places we were unsure about," he told Eurogamer. "We didn't have the correct techniques to get it to work. We decided we probably shouldn't release something that didn't work well. We didn't want to lower the quality of the game."
In its stead will be a 'transfarring' system that allows data from the Wii U version of the game to be played on a 3DS with another Wii U owner and more 3DSes, before transferring that save file back to the original Wii U.
"We wanted people to play together. We know there are some people who want to play online. Unfortunately with the 3DS version you can't do that. But we have made this feature so you can play together. You can have your friends bring their save data to your house and have a Monster Hunter party. One person will play on the big screen and three other people will play with their 3DS versions. People can continue their save data from what they had before and go back home and update their data on their Wii U."
Above: This is Alazar, a warrior from the great plains of... the armchair over by the coffee table
So there you have it folks - local multiplayer is the future for Monster Hunter on Nintendo. That's actually not such a bad thing - we do have fond memories of the near identical set-up for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on Gamecube with four connected GBA systems. But that's not a common system these days for a reason.
Given that Capcom has already got online play working just fine on 3DS already, we can only assume there was an issue with cross-platform connectivity. But why that didn't allow for 3DS-only servers is beyond us. Especially when Monster Hunter 4 has been announced for 3DS and it will support online play. Tsujimoto added:
"When we were developing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the 3DS, it was an experiment," he said. "It was new hardware for us. We didn't know the capabilities of the hardware. But as a portable system it was very unique to work with. It has two screens and 3D capabilities. To us as developers, we want to challenge ourselves to make something that is very good on that system.
"So after we made Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on 3DS, we were able to analyse what we did on that game. We realised it was quite easy to develop for. That was the reason why we continued with Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS."