Monster Hunter, for its hardcore appeal and daunting learning curve, has never really gained a solid foothold for Western audiences. Similar to Fire Emblem in that respect, this series suffers from a lack of support in other areas of the world, but enjoys mass success and appeal across the board in Japan. Thankfully this latest update of the popular Monster Hunter Tri, originally for the Nintendo Wii not only improves on the concepts in the original game, but also offers enough new content for those that played the game previously.
The general plot is little more than an excuse to kill monsters, but it's enough to get you interested. A giant sea creature is threatening a sea-side village and as the hunter, it's your task to conquer it and protect the village. This general story structure doesn't ever really develop, as the charm is in the details, not the story arc itself. The localization is great, the writing is top-notch, it's funny and I actually enjoyed reading the moderately sized walls of texts between quests. My one gripe with the structure of the game is how incredibly top-heavy the tutorial pieces of the game seem to be. For the first several hours you will slog through tons and tons of tutorials learning basics that often seem intuitively obvious, but some concepts do require explanation. The developers would have been well-deserved to pace the tutorials and concepts a bit better, as opposed to throwing it all at you from the very start.
Once you do break into the "real game" however, it's open season (pun intended.) Quests consist of hunting specific types of monsters for resources and even crafting armor specific to their skin and type and eventually hunting giant named creatures that often require half-hour long individual sieges just to take down. Some of these larger encounters are what highlight the issues with the 3DS format for the game. I only reviewed the 3DS version, but spent time with it on the Wii in the past and the Wii U currently and the 3DS version is better than playing on the original Wii with the nun-chuck controls, but is the worst option besides that.
The default control scheme has a few different icons placed on the touch screen for easy access like opening your inventory and things of that nature, but also allows for camera control. The D-pad can also be used for controlling the camera. However, if you have the add-on circle pad pro attachment, it does improve the experience significantly. With the default system, though, not only was it annoying to pivot the camera using a semi-claw-like hand gesture, but tapping the L-button to center it behind me was often less than sufficient.
Taking the cumbersome controls into consideration, the game is still a joy to get sucked into. The graphics are beautiful and rival all other versions of the game with detailed character models, beautiful environments and gruesome monsters to battle. The soundtrack is wonderful with lots of sweeping scores that set the mood perfectly. This latest version of the game features a whole slew of new content by way of an all-new large monster called the Brachydios. Kayamba joins as a new companion, there are over 200 new quests over 2000 new pieces of equipment and over 1000 new armor pieces and much more. A game that already had hundreds of hours of content is even bigger and longer now, all in the palms of your hands.
It's worth noting that no corners were cut for the 3DS version of the game. Not only does it include all of the same content, but also features cross-platform multiplayer. It's truly impressive that Capcom was able to pull this off so seamlessly and it really works great. If you have the dedication, patience and intrigue to sink your teeth deep into the Monster Hunter world, you will definitely be satisfied with this entry. The 3DS version doesn't control as well as it's console brother, but it's equally as content-packed and feature-ridden to provide hundreds of hours of gameplay. This is the definitive Monster Hunter experience.
This review was based on a physical review copy of the game for the Nintendo 3DS provided by Capcom.