A few weeks back, we gathered a party of intrepid Kotaku readers and set off in search of adventure. Our quest? Attend Nintendo's Monster Hunter Tri media event on Sydney's Cockatoo Island and play the game. Here's what happened.
Four of our five-person team made it back alive. Below they each relate their personal takes on the ill-fated expedition. The rest of you will be able to discover for yourselves when Monster Hunter Tri releases on Wii on April 29.
Jessica Barnes It’s dark, cold and draughty. It’s hard to tell where this tunnel ends and you walk carefully so as not to trip. You can hear strange noises and see glowing lights ahead. There are scattered bones on the floor near your feet. You’re in a dungeon and you don’t know what lies ahead. Welcome to Monster Hunter. And this was just the launch event. Nintendo actually hired a WW2 bunker on Cockatoo Island to host the Monster Hunter Tri launch event and decked it out as a dungeon. This was probably the coolest launch night I’ve been to and really got everyone in the mood for some Monster Slayage.
Monster Hunter makes its Wii debut with Monster Hunter Tri this April 29th. At last we have another big name series coming to the Wii. The game looks lovely, very nice graphics for the little console. From the footage we were shown the cut-scenes look very pretty and the in-game backgrounds and monsters are quite detailed, amongst the best seen on the system.
You know the drill. Monsters are threatening your peaceful village so it’s up to you to restore order to the land. Did I mention you get to fight a huge ass Lagiacrus beast under water? Yeah, it’s extremely hard and extremely awesome.
The game is a hack and slash style but with a twist. As you kill the big nasties you also collect items from them that you can incorporate into your weapons and armour. You can also set traps requiring a bit more skill and timing than blindly stabbing with pointy objects. Be prepared to be patient as you learn each monsters moves and weaknesses.
One of the good things about this title is that as well as a single player mode Nintendo is utilising the online capabilities of the Wii. The game really is designed to be played online with your friends, some of the monsters we were told are nigh-on impossible to kill by yourself. You can party with up to three others in your killing quests. It’s great to see the online features of the Wii being used, might actually encourage some people to dust off their consoles and party up with some mates. You can also access special quests and items only available in the online mode. Remembering also that the Wii online services are free only sweetens the deal. The game also uses the Wii Speak so you can talk to your fellow monster hunters. I don’t think I know anyone who actually owns a Wii Speak so it will be interesting to see if this encourages people to buy one specifically for this game.
However we need to remember this is Nintendo and there’s generally a catch. In this instance it’s the controller. Think you’ll be able to get the best old school experience with your Classic Controller? Think again. You now need the Classic Controller PRO! That’s right for just $99.95 the Classic Controller Pro bundled with Monster Hunter Tri can be yours! According to Nintendo this gives you the ultimate Monster Hunter experience as the game was designed for use with this controller. Besides some extra hand grips and a couple of extra buttons it’s pretty much the same set up as the original Classic Controller. Oh, and it’s black. Having said this, the gameplay I found was much better with the Pro as opposed to the Nunchuk and Remote. The Pro is easier to use, more responsive and generally more enjoyable to play with in my opinion.
This, I feel, is a title the Wii needs. It has a fan following, it encourages real gamers to play their Wiis together and it looks and plays great. Go kill yourselves some monsters and save the world!
Alistair Christie Through the sky, then a deep cavern and across a vast sea. So went my trip to Cockatoo Island to preview Capcom's loot whoring action-RPG Monster Hunter Tri. We commenced with a quick eyes on single player. The graphics looked very pretty and definitely up there with the best on Wii. The jaggies I saw were mostly Capcom in-jokes: In-game monsters. Single player promises 30 hours plus to beat the story, such as unknown story will be, but double that time to best every uber-monster. Then we were let loose on four-player co-op and two-player arena.
I first sampled arena mode, played split-screen only. 20 different monsters can be fought in a small arena. Bonuses seemed to be tied principally to winning in super fast times. Four-player online co-op was simulated too. Only one player per Wii when online, but Wii Speak is supported. All weapons classes - bowgun, sword/shield combo, sword, hammer, axe/sword combo and spear - were offered, and play quite differently. The game is not rocket surgery (Love it - Ed.) - basically attack till close to dying, retreat to use a healing item, lay the odd trap, and then repeat. Many times. Working together is essential because a 15 minute session barely bothered the monster. With no health bar, you need to look out for monsters limping or looking angrier to gauge your progress.
The slow movement and weapon controls felt very Resident Evil. The slowness is fair enough given the hunters, in true Japanese style, wield weapons bigger than their bodies. The camera centre function was less responsive than I wanted, but the camera is at least fully controllable at all times. Tying two totally different functions to a tap and a hold of the same button is potentially frustrating while no compulsory waggle is a plus.
No Cube controller support was disappointing when the identically featured Classic Controller Pro (optionally bundled with the game) offers the best controls. Comfort is greater and item selection and usage in particular are much easier than the Wiimote/Nunchuk combination.
Once I played enough of Monster Hunter, I realised that the whole game is designed around creating an experience of epic battles against ridiculously massive enemies, where patience and your equipment are equally important. I got a lot more out of the playing experience after that. It's more Shadow of the Colossus than Devil May Cry.
Monster Hunter Tri remains a fascinating prospect. History is very much against it, with big effort third-party Wii titles mostly tanking (whether due to simply not being very good is for another debate), and the previously Sony console exclusive franchise never hitting close to the same sales in the West. Acclaim will largely hinge on whether the rewards and satisfaction of an epic battle motivate enough for the next one. I have some reservations, but I'm looking forward nonetheless to the online-centric, grindilicious Monster Hunter experience.
Jesse Matheson As a newbie to the Monster Hunter series, my expectations weren’t all that high. I had never played the game on any platform and knew no one that had played the series, so when I picked up the controller I kept an open mind.
Gameplay is really where Capcom needs to pay attention to before releasing this game. The monsters actions looked great but the player's hunter can hardly move. This was the worst part of the demo, the fact that whilst the monster I was fighting (a Rathian, to be precise) moved flawlessly, but it also moved 10 times faster then my character. Maybe it's a part of the realism, but I wasn’t able to do any real damage to the monster without losing most of my health at the same time. I was told that the code I was playing had the difficulty beefed up so this could be the explanation, but unless Capcom wants people to become so frustrated with not being able to beat a monster due to ridiculous difficulty, then they will really have to look at either making the player faster or stronger, or the monster slower and weaker.
The visuals were pretty basic for the Wii, not bad but nothing spectacular. It’s a bit of a shame that the irritating gameplay drew from being able to enjoy or immerse myself within the game. Overall the game seemed pretty solid but there is still work to be done before I go out and buy it.
Will Higgins I was one of a lucky few picked to experience the event celebrating the Australian launch of Monster Hunter Tri for Wii. We gathered at the docks, greeted by some friendly Nintendo crew, and boarded our vessel - a “sea turtle” as it were - bound for Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour.
This event also marked the Australian launch of the Black Wii, and the Classic Controller Pro. We were greeted by more friendly Nintendo staff and a number of Black Wiis and large TVs. We were shown a trailer, given a short demonstration on how not to kill monsters, and were then left to play for ourselves.
The demos showed two major features of the game: four-player online multiplayer, and two-player split-screen co-op arena play. In the four-player demo, players were allowed to roam the world – which consists of only 12 or so areas – in search of a particular monster. Upon victory, a pittance of loot was acquired to help the player improve their character. The arena mode was a simpler version of this, with split-screen, and a different choice of monsters to be battled on demand. The game lacks a 'level' system, instead relying on loot to allow you to improve your character.
With Monster Hunter Tri billed an “action RPG”, its combat system is of utmost importance. There's no target-tracking, and camera management is completely manual, so one must ensure they are facing the correct direction in order to hit their target. This is a complicated task, as monsters move very rapidly, and many of the weapons attack so terrifically slow that most swings and combos contact nothing but air. There is also no floating damage display, and no monster life bar shown, instead, the player must rely on subtle learned cues to detect when a monster is near death. The lack of explicit damage displays allows the player to enjoy what the game offers, which is fairly deep experience for a Wii action RPG.
The Classic Controller Pro, which is essentially a PS2 controller, is slightly easier than using a Wiimote to play this game. There is no use for the motion control, and not even all the buttons on the Classic Controller are utilised; this game was originally slated to be released on the PS3, and it feels as though it might as well have been. The Wii's underpowered hardware doesn't do the simple character animations or environment maps any favours. Still, the game looks decent, monsters are fun to fight, and the combat system is deep enough to maintain the players' interest; so long as you're playing with friends. On your own, it becomes the standard, boring hack, slash and grind.
Monster Hunter fans will really like this game and action RPG fans who own ONLY a Wii will be satisfied with it.