Well, Monster Hunter Stories will very likely be a big ol’ very well deserved smash hit for Nintendo, Capcom and developer Marvelous! when it lands at retail and on the eShop September 8, but it really needs to be on a more powerful system that would allow it to be even better visually.
Yeah, I said it – the well-aged 3DS hardware just can’t handle all the game wants to show off and that’s too bad in this day and age. So you get NPC’s popping in, occasional frame rate drops, some nice-looking (but would be nicer looking on an HD system or handheld) cinemas and a few other issues. That said, the game is fun as heck and absolutely the most accessible Monster Hunter game to date.
Granted, I’m someone who has a huge love/hate thing going with this franchise for over a decade. The character and enemy designs are great, but up until this turn-based installment, the combat has always been what left me annoyed. The funny thing is, MHS grabbing at the brass ring cash cow Pokemon has been for decades makes for a game that’s hard to dislike unless you’re not a fan at all of “Gotta catch ’em all!” styled play.
The cuter art style and focus on hatchin’ and catchin’ monster eggs may turn off more dedicated franchise fans who love their hitboxes and aggressive boss fights galore. But it’s clear that this new game is made to expand the series to players who may have hesitated on picking up one or more of the previous titles. I’m not sure all the lore fits into where it needs to, but again – most players simply will not care because of the game’s fun factor that’s very solid indeed and yes, very much inspired by GameFreak’s hugely popular game series.
The demo breaks from the more recent (and stupid) tradition of being limited use in favor of allowing you to play freely through its opening areas, allowing save data to be carried over to the full retail or digital version once it becomes available. Pretty much everything clicks right from the start, although I’ll nitpick about getting to create a character after you see them full-on as a different guy. Eh, it’s something this sort of game suffers with handling, so it’s no biggie at the end of the day. There are also a few of the usual melodramatic character types to deal with, so the cute looks and humor here get some pepper rubbed into its eyes by grumpy and indecisive NPC’s. Eh, whatever – you gotta take your tropes when they drop, right?
If it sounds as if I’m cranky here, I’m not at all. I just wish there were a way for this game to unshackle itself from being a Nintendo exclusive and pop up on a few other platforms that would just do a better job overall at delivering what the developer intended without compromise. I guess a Switch version would be the obvious choice, which would mean I think I’ll need to buy a Switch one of these days. For the moment though, I’m fine with what’s here as long as the final version smooths out a few bumps.