Let's hunt some monsters
The ability to slay enormous beasts with equally gigantic weapons will be possible in about a week, when Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate releases on the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS for the first time. We all know how massively popular this game is in Japan, but why hasn't it caught on in North America? Will it ever? We ask producer Ryozo Tsujimoto these questions and more in this developer interview.
We'll also have our review of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate this time next week so be sure to check back and read our verdict.
GamesRadar: Why do you think Monster Hunter is so popular in Japan, but hasn't caught on in the Western market?
Ryozo Tsujimoto: Japan as a market is very receptive to games based around local multiplayer on portable consoles, due to the population density; in fact, Monster Hunter was one of the games to kick off a boom in portable local play when the feature was introduced. Most places in the West are not as conducive to getting together to play like that. At the same time, its important to remember that the first Monster Hunter title was not a massive hit right away. Its taken years for the series to reach its current level of popularity in Japan, so I think we can give ourselves some time to build the franchise in the West as well.
GR: What can be done to make the series appeal to a broader audience without losing what makes it so special?
RT: Monster Hunter is first and foremost an action game, so to make the series appeal to a broader audience we need to refine the action gameplay while introducing new and inventive features. Its also important that we create an infrastructure which allows a wide variety of players to enjoy the multiplayer together.
GR: What elements define the Monster Hunter franchise?
RT: If action is the defining aspect of Monster Hunter, then the monsters are the most important element of the action. We spend a lot of time coming up with ideas for monster designs and refining them. The monsters may not exist in real life, but we try to make them look and behave like living creatures, which allows players to understand them and use that knowledge to hunt them.
GR: What did you find appealing about the Wii U, and what does it allow you to do with Monster Hunter that can't be accomplished on other consoles?
RT: The fact that the Wii U allows us to reproduce the feel of the 3DSs two-screen gameplay using the GamePad was very appealing, as the titles content is fundamentally the same as the 3DS version and can therefore be enjoyed on Wii U as well.
GR: In what ways does Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate differ from previous entries in the series?
RT: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate features over twice as many monsters and over three times as many weapons as Monster Hunter Tri, as well a host of new items and features. One such feature is the target camera, which lets you focus the camera on a nearby monster of your choice automatically. This really helps during intense battles.
Releasing the title on two different platforms is a first, as is the cross-platform compatibility that not only allows 3DS players to play local multiplayer with a Wii U player, but lets players who own both systems to transfer their save data between them using a free transfer app, so they can hunt at home or on the go, whenever they like.
GR: Where do you see this series heading as we move to the next generation of consoles?
RT: I always think that its important to focus on the current titles before getting too far ahead of ourselves, but you can rest assured that Monster Hunter will always be the exciting action game fans know and love.
Are you looking forward to upcoming Monster Hunter? Let us know in the comments below. GamesRadar editors will be playing some Monster Hunter when it comes out, so let's get together and hunt some winged beasts!
If you liked this story and want to see it in action, check out our Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate developer demo.