Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the Nintendo Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS is a game that should be reclassified as a time machine that only functions to move you forward. Starting the game is akin to becoming Alan Parrish in Jumanji, all time is lost to the wind and the satisfaction from hunting creatures that are out of this world is sublime. I have put in 80 hours into this game and I have barely finished a third of it. If you haven’t played one of the Monster Hunter titles, get ready to understand why it’s considered one of the best game franchises of all time.
Cutting the Beasts Down to Size
Here’s the lowdown, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one of the Monster Hunter series of games that are mega-popular in Japan. The goal is to essentially collect resources from monsters by killing or capturing them to create bigger and badder weapons and armor. The process to forge these items takes a long time, as the monsters take a long time to beat. Missions often have a fifty-minute time limit, and require you to be as prepared as you can with health potions, weapon sharpening tools, stamina regenerative drinks, paintballs, and so much more. As complicated and time-consuming as preparing ends up being, the game shines when all the time spent setting up for the fight pays off as the monsters become easier to deal with, and you’re rewarded with a ton of resources to make better weapons and armor.
Furthermore the effects of those new weapons and armor as well as newly devised strategies are always noticeable; a new weapon will cut down that Royal Ludroth quicker than you ever thought possible, that newly forged armor will help you last much longer in a fight, and the new strategy will make what is usually a 40 minute mission into 20 minutes. The progression you make will surprise you, and time and time again you’ll see that creature you thought would be impossible to kill will slowly become less and less of an impossibility. All in all, the more you put in, the more you’re going to get out of this title.
The Biggest and the Baddest
However, these monsters will wreck you like an overturned semi. Each battle is a life and death struggle to whittle away your opponent while these giant monsters set you on fire, poison you, exhaust you, run you over, shoot lava lasers, and crush you with bodies that are ten times your size. It’s terrifying but also incredibly fun as you start to see their patterns and learn how to fight them best. You’ll make mental notes like “The Qurupeco bird knocks it’s hands together three times then dives, maneuver around as that move is unavoidable.” or “Pink Rathian dragons usually spit fire to their left, so keeping to their right seems like a better option.” and “The Lagiacrus serpent has two area lightning attacks with different effects, know the differences to best time your attacks.” With enough observing, the mastery earned will result in less consumables being used and faster fights that instills a fantastic feeling of accomplishment.
A Group Effort
It won’t be just you celebrating though, if you know someone with a 3DS and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate or have the Wii U version and the internet, you will be able to play with them in multi-player missions. Unlike other titles that separate single-player and multi-player characters, you can carry over the entirety of your hunting horn specialist between the two modes. In fact you can start a character and never actually touch the single-player mode, but that is a terrible idea as you will miss out on a lot of stuff to help you hunt. One of my favorite features is if you have both a Wii U and a 3DS copy of the game, you can transfer your data between the two systems. It allows for a great change of pace, and the ability to host 3DS players as well adds some incredible versatility. If you can, getting both versions is really cool, especially if you have someone to play with.
A Litany of Issues
As perfect as this game is, problems emerge that can make this a very strained gaming experience. For one, the text is incredibly small on the Wii U version, and as for the 3DS some of the text is particularly grainy. This could be that this is an expansion from Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii, and upscaling/downscaling the text for different resolutions is causing this problem. At the least it’s annoying and at the most it’s infuriating. On that subject, the UI also has this issue where plenty of times it expects me to press a button to continue, but the message is explaining that an action is taking place. For example, on the Wii U a prompt appears that says something along the lines of “Now Connecting to the Internet”, but stays there not doing anything until I hit a button to confirm. There is no icon that indicates the game expects me to hit a button, and to me it looks like it’s connecting to the Internet. There is sloppy interface like this throughout the game, and shows where Capcom cut corners when bringing this to other consoles.
Which leads me to the fact that the game really doesn’t hold your hand. The myriad of menus the game has with the elemental, defense, and attack data doesn’t explain what any of it means. There are items the game asks for that you have no idea where to get them, and are named in such obtuse ways like “Fertile Mud” that gives no explanation on its use. The tutorial at the beginning is as equally long and drawn out as it is uninformative to the point that I just start mashing buttons-I got so bored! The bar of entry for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is so high that it’s really hard to suggest this game to anyone. If you aren’t reading guides and searching online for locations of important items, then you are going to have an extremely bad time playing this. Companion Internet device is absolutely required.
Then again, should you make the effort to read the guides online and to study up on how to play the game, you will find a wealth of reward that rivals that of its contemporaries. If you like Dark Souls, Phantasy Star Online, and Tera, I can truly say that this is the game for you. Unlike other titles that go for that instant gratification, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate aims to make you work for your happiness. It isn’t until you’ve been fighting the same Rathian for 45 minutes that you understand what a hard-fought victory feels like. You’ll take a breath, relax your hands after white-knuckling for so long, and wonder why aren’t more games this fun to play. Buy it, study it, and happy hunting.
Legacy Score: 8.7
Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.
This review is based on both Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Wii U versions.
Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to see him realize he can’t see the first ten minutes of Taken without watching the whole thing.