I try to deny it but I may have secretly been interested because it’s on the Wii and as any Wii game review on most major sites will tell you over and over again the system lacks a plethora of high-quality third-party titles. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have a PSP and the series has always somewhat appealed to me. Whatever the case, I think Pat put it best when he said, “I thought the game would be fun because we could play online together but it’s legitimately a good game.” I agree, Monster Hunter is better than I expected.
Still, there are a few things Capcom could have done better to really capture that hunting spirit (I say this from a position of absolute authority as I have never been hunting in my life). Obviously there are obnoxious fans of the series who will be offended by my suggestions (try criticizing Fire Emblem around die hard fans if you want to know what hell is like) because “that’s how it always was in MH, you don’t understand it! Bad controls are a feature you just suck too much to handle how awesome it is!”
On to my list of problems and half thought out solutions:
Cha Cha is stupid.
Not too far into single player mode you find a companion named Cha Cha, a little wood fairy or something (who is no where near as cool as Tingle). This makes the game easier because Cha Cha draws enemy attention away from you sometimes, which is a standard occurrence when playing with multiple people online.
My problem with Cha Cha is less about what he is and more about what he isn’t: namely a dog. Having a hunting dog companion would be significantly cooler than simply bringing along another sentient humanoid. There is something special in how man and dog bond through the hunting and killing of other species, as if both understand they are superior to the deer who were not clever enough to invent the rifle or convince humans to feed them by panting in an adorable way. A canine companion could also allow for some flourishes to the game mechanics. Hidden areas could be more plentiful, rare spawn points easier to detect, and each enemy monster could react to your pup differently, echoing the AI reactions to the flame of a torch.
A dog could also combat the somewhat disposable nature of the quests by creating an emotional bond within the game. When I play with other humans I care about their survival, if only because it ensures my own. Contrast this with Cha Cha. What is he doing most of the time? I don’t even notice when he dies. But I would notice if my dog died. It may not result in a Shadow of the Colossus level of bond between man and animal but it would surely resonate more as well as better capture that hunting aura.
The monsters are too gamey.
Sure, when you read the website it explains that giant A’s are female B’s, C’s are the giant fathers of D’s and E’s are F’s with gigantism, but nature rarely works like that. Usually in real life differences between sexes are something minor like a tuft of extra fur around the neck or the inability to do simple mathematics.
Capcom decided that instead of spending the time and money on making many unique boss monsters, they could just modify existing small monsters most of the time. This sucks because it makes the game less interesting, is an obvious cop out for the developer, and steals some of the authentic ‘fighting a monster in a generic fantasy world with a gigantic hammer’ feel from the game. The monster progression feels like a video game and not like a nature documentary that happens to include fire breathing dinosaurs; it’s unrealistic in a bad way.
You should be able to camp.
This is probably the most controversial of my three suggestions because camping threatens to really fuck with the bite sized quest nature of the game. It would also fight what I have already described as the disposable nature of the quests, though. Imagine a monster you need to track through many maps that you cannot catch up to without spending a night somewhere, or a monster only out during the night. Being able to camp would easily fit into the game’s already existing day/night system that is currently entirely pointless. Camping could also provide a bit of tense play – will you be awoken in the middle of the night by your left leg being eaten, did one of the four of you volunteer to stay awake and guard your tent?
I think what is missing from Monster Hunter is epicness, which is also missing from the dictionary. The obvious problem is that by its very nature, the game fights against this quality by compartmentalizing every bit of gameplay into 50 minute maximum quests focused on doing at most three things. But the environments and giant beasts (who are mostly dinosaurs for some reason) demand a sweeping epic fantasy game. I’ve already played over 75 hours so I apparently like the game, but I’d really love a Monster Hunter RPG.