In the West, few people care about Monster Hunter. Most really do not give a flip. Japan, however, is another story. There is one game Japan seems to desire more than any right now. That game is Monster Hunter 4.
How important is Monster Hunter 4? This series made the PSP in Japan. When people outside Japan were saying the PSP was dead, the system was selling like hot cakes in Japan because of Monster Hunter. This time around, Sony doesn't seem to be so lucky.
Last September at a Nintendo conference, the concept trailer for Monster Hunter 4 was first shown. The game was announced as a 3DS title. Nintendo rejoiced! Sony probably said: "Aw, crap."
And tonight, Nintendo showed off the above image from Monster Hunter 4. It's teasing a new kind of weapon for the series -- boring video game minutia. Sure, hardcore fans will care, but non-fans will probably see this as drip-fed game PR drivel. But forget that for a moment. What this teaser serves as a reminder just how powerful the Monster Hunter brand is in Japan. This is the image that Nintendo ended with! This was supposed to be the big climax.
See, Nintendo doesn't really need Monster Hunter. It has a stable of games that will make players part with their money and buy portable hardware. Sony, however, has traditionally relied on outside developers to deliver the goods for its portable system. That isn't to say Sony has made bad portable games (it hasn't), but the role of Monster Hunter in the PSP's success is undeniable. The PS Vita needs Monster Hunter -- namely, Monster Hunter 4. And Sony needs it bad. But for the time being, Nintendo is just glad to have the game locked up on the 3DS. And more than happy to tease.