Ed is at Tokyo Game Show 2016 by himself. He does not speak Japanese. Sometimes he’ll be able to figure stuff out to write you a proper preview. Other times, he won’t have any idea what is going on. This is one of those times. This is his attempt to put into words what he experienced. Full disclaimer: He could be very, very wrong about anything and everything here. Enjoy at your own risk.
I never liked the Monster Hunter games. I really don’t see the appeal. From my personal perspective, they are a slow, clunky, and repetitive series of hack and slash games. But it’s a good thing I don’t run Capcom because plenty of people disagree with that perspective, which is the main reason Capcom continues to add to the series.
I was fully expecting to also hate Monster Hunter Stories too, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn how un-Monster Hunter it really was. The janky combat is replaced with good ol’ fashioned turn based fighting with a bunch of stuff that I did not fully understand added on. Let’s dig in.
Monster Hunter Stories is all about making friends with animals and riding them around in and outside of battle. You can challenge other animals to fight while in search of eggs (eggs are also very major part of Monster Hunter Stories). You fight them by deciding whether you want to use a Red, Blue, or Green based attack (which works like Rock, Paper, Scissors). So if the monster you’re fighting is a green monster, you can attack with a red attack (or maybe it was blue), and do extra damage.
Occasionally, instead of normal attacks, you or your monster will run full speed at the other monster to head butt it. I have no explanation as to why or how this is triggered, it just did sometimes so I rolled with it.
If you’re really good at picking the right color and head butting animals, you’ll quickly fill up a kinship bar, which, once full, will let you unleash a powerful combo attack where you and your pet monster will team up and do something cool that hurts the enemies for lots of damage.
You also have a wise cracking cat companion that wants to be Morgana from Persona 5 so bad that I feel sorry for it. It does have a little paw on its stomach though, which is kind of cute, so for that I forgive it for not being as cool as Morgana. It likes to talk a lot in and out of battle, it might serve a purpose, or it just might be there to annoy you.
Side note: Towards the end of my demo, while I was in full ass whooping gear, a PR person told me to run from a battle that I was winning. I was a little confused but I listened, thinking she was going to teach me something that I was missing (I’m sure there was a lot). Then she walked away. Okay, I thought, I don’t know what just happened but let me go fight these three woolly mammoths. She ZIPS right back to my station politely tells me no, and tells me to run again. I understood now. She totally didn’t think I had what it took to kill those woolly mammoths even though I was killing them just fine mere seconds before she got there. She clearly underestimated my power and I was little sour about that. I just wanted to get that off my chest, I could have totally won that fight and I want everyone reading this to know it.
Anyway, back to Monster Hunter Stories. When you’re not fighting other animals you’re looking to steal eggs from dragons. Eggs are pretty important in this game because it is how you hatch new animals for you to fight with. You find eggs by going into dungeons found on the field. At the end of each of these was a big nest, usually guarded by a dragon. The trailer featured the dragon chasing after the hero while he ran away with the egg. In my experience though, the dragon was just always asleep while I sifted through its nest searching for an egg that had an appealing color to me (there are all different kinds). It never woke up and I ran away with the egg, laughing all the way home.
Upon getting two eggs, I was sent back to town, hatched them, and immediately dropped into a boss battle. I had no idea what was going on. I imagine this is connected to the “stories” part of Monster Hunter Stories. With a game title like that, you’d imagine there is a renewed focus on telling a compelling story. All I could suss out from the trailer they showed us is that this is a world revolving around eggs. Everyone wants them, but only some people have what it takes to quietly break in and steal them. The gameplay I saw at Tokyo Game Show 2016 only served to confirm my hunch.
There’s also a ton of ways to customize your character and make it uniquely you, which is always a welcome addition. Although it’s always “guy with no hair for me.” So boring.
Seriously though, I am really interested in a Monster Hunter game for the first time pretty much ever. This is a radical new direction for the series that goes in a more traditional route in terms of battle, while still keeping the over world navigation and big baddy battles. All of the egg hatching, collecting and monster rearing looks like it could make for really deep and addictive gameplay. Icing on the cake too is that Monster Hunter Stories is one of the most visually impressive games I’ve seen on the 3DS to date. All of the colors are just so vibrant and pop right out of the screen.
However, like Romeo and Juliet, this preview too has a tragic end. Monster Hunter Stories currently has no worldwide release date, which totally figures. Will I ever get to hunt for eggs while also being able to actually understand the story? No one knows.