Article first published as Nintendo Wii U Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Blogcritics.
While I was sitting at Nintendo’s E3 presentation of Wii U games at the Nokia Center in Los Angeles last year, I couldn’t help imagining my favorite RPGs with the new GamePad controller. For many RPG fans that dream has been realized with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the Wii U. For those that are unfamiliar with the action RPG series, Monster Hunter made its debut on the Playstation 2 almost ten years ago. While it’s not as popular here in the United States as other Western action RPGs or even other Japanese RPGs like Final Fantasy, Monster Hunter does have its fans.
Like Mass Effect 3, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate isn’t a really a new game for Nintendo’s latest console. Monster Hunter 3 or Tri as it was called was originally released in 2009 for the Nintendo Wii. The graphics while updates do show some age. That’s not to say Monster Hunter doesn’t look good, but the visuals are unlikely to wow anyone. The most discouraging aspect of the presentation is the lack of voicing in conjunction with poor font selection and the size of the text crammed into the lower left corner. If you don’t like to read a lot, this probably isn’t the action RPG for you.
In the single player campaign of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, players take on the role of a hunter newly arrived in a small island village. A large earthquake just struck the area and the village chief suspects a giant monster is the cause. Of course he’s sending you out to investigate. You are allowed to create and customize your character, though the options are not as robust as the offerings of some RPGs. The game has a particular style and nothing offered will make your character terribly unique. These limitations don’t apply to the variety of cartoonlike oversized weapons you will acquire and master throughout the lengthy adventure.
Players are also given the option of two control schemes. Embracing the second screen option, I chose to have everything moved over to the GamePad screen, including status bars. The controls which must be mastered to progress very far, however do present some issues. During battles, sheathing and unsheathing your weapon along with attacks must be second nature and well timed. Poorly timed and mistaken button presses can result in wasted resources and death. Longtime Monster Hunter fans understand this is part of the game and accept it as a game mechanic. Many newcomers however will likely be frustrated.
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