Daily Grind: Monster Hunter Tri
I really had no idea what Monster Hunter was when picking this game up. I'd briefly watched Josh play a few minutes of Monster Hunter Freedom 2, and understood it to be a sort of like the parts of an MMO which are dull (grinding for drops/resource gathering/crafting) made into a janky action game with long load times. I also know that the Monster Hunter games are obscenely popular over in Japan, so figured there was probably something I was not getting. As I am not the biggest handheld game player, this Wii game seemed like a great way to get into the series to see if I can figure it out especially as it seems technically much more competent than the PSP games.
: Classic Controlling
The version I got came packed in with a Classic Controller Pro which is a definite upgrade from the Classic Controller. The sticks are further apart so your thumbs don't touch, the triggers feel good and the wing handles are nicely shaped and feel a bit like the Wavebird which is a good thing. It's still a shame it doesn't work without having the wiimote hanging from it. There are very few comfortable positions to hold a controller with a remote control shaped anchor dangling from it.
: Camera Issues
It's a shame the game doesn't really know what to do with the right stick though. While rotating the camera with the stick seems fine, pushing the stick up and down rather than move the camera in an analogue fashion, it snaps between various different preset differences which is exactly how the d-pad based camera controls work. I have absolutely no idea how this happened. They give you a device with a second analogue sticks specifically to try and get people who like 'hardcore' games on board, then just map the goddamn d-pad onto it? Are you kidding me?
There are a lot of tutorials at the front end of the game which is a good thing as they have a lot of ground to cover. There are tons of systems, menus, locations, shops, currencies, and concepts to get through. It's weird then how the tutorial window/conversation window is tiny and requires you to step though sets of about 6 screens each with only two sentences on. The actual content is fine, and the localisation of the text is done with a fair degree of funny writing which they really didn't have to do but I certainly appreciate.
: Get you Going
It's a pleasantly swift journey from character creator to killing a monster. The manage to contextualise most of the lessons under the frame of "head out into the woods and do some hunting, also here's how to mine ore. Alright go. Also, kill monsters.". They could easily have kept you in the village explaining things for far longer, and do go back to that whenever you return. I do think it's important for a game to show you some gameplay to get you engaged pretty quickly, so good job Monster Hunter Tri.
: Kill a Thing
They give you a basic sword and shield combo when you start up which is probably a good thing as it controls the most like you'd expect an action RPG to control. Hit X and your guy slashes, keep hitting it for combos, Hit A for shield bash. Most of the other weapons in the game have really slow wind-up times which it'll be some time before you see why you'd want to ever use those things. I am still getting a handle on the quirky nature of the straight line combo. When you start doing a combo, you cannot change the direction it's being done in so you'd better be sure you are going to hit the enemy. This is a bit weird coming off games like God of War that let you change direction at any time, but I already think I'm getting the hang of it.
: Hmm, Upgrades
A large part of the addictive nature of the game seems to be the blacksmith and his list of things he needs you to bring him to make you more stuff. Just looking at it and realising that if I go out and get 3 more monster bones, my sword will be upgraded? Awesome. I expect at some point I'll have absolutely no idea how to get a thing I need and end up looking it up on the internet though.
After my brief time with the game, I can already see why it's keeping Japanese gamers busy, and I haven't even touched the multiplayer portion yet.