Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the expanded version of Monster Hunter Tri, which was released in 2009 in Japan and in 2010 in other areas. It is available for both the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Wii U, and it aims to capture as much an audience as it does in the West as it did in Japan. Those who have played the game in its exclusive Wii incarnation might feel that this new title isn’t worth looking at, but Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate does provide for some subtle yet enjoyable differences that might make this game worth a second look and playthrough.
First and foremost, with the 3DS, the game can now be played from anywhere. In addition, both consoles can share game saves seamlessly, although there are regional limitations, such that game saves from games released in other countries cannot be used by another. Another limitation is that Monster Hunter Tri games cannot be loaded for play in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and vice versa, although this might have been a good feature to have, in hindsight.
Another good thing about this particular release is that the touchscreen, either at the bottom screen of the 3DS or the Wii U’s GamePad controller, can now be used and customize to access different kinds of menus. This basically means that information such as health bars, maps, inventories, and other information can be displayed in this area rather than on the main screen, reserving it for all the action. The game also features some new characters, areas, and monsters, adding some new flavor into an otherwise already repeated game.
The 3DS version of the game also supports the Circle Pad Pro and the Circle Pad Pro XL. This solves some relative problems especially with regards to the lack of a dual stick feature, and it makes controlling your character as well as other aspects of the game much more manageable. In addition, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate also allows for the toggling of views, and it can also allow the camera to lock on to an enemy at a few presses of a button. This eliminates the deftness required from players especially when having to juggle between movement and battle.
Essentially, however, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has pretty much remained the same. It involves a lot of grinding to get new items and complete quests, and success really depends on how dedicated you are in setting up and improving your skills and equipment. It’s a full blown RPG where dedication is absolutely essential, as mindlessly rushing into battle will get you killed about ninety-nine percent of the time.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate follows the premise of previous games in the series, all of which include battling monsters derived from folklore, myth, and other influences. Monsters in the game tend to be pretty large, and players will really get to enjoy battling each foe will really occupy players for several hours if they are into that sort of thing.
Game mechanics are pretty regular, and earlier stages will help you get a feel of how the game should be played. However, do not expect things to be easy pickings once you’ve gotten all the controls. Quests are limited to just three attempts, and players will probably using the first two to judge the enemy’s movements and attack patterns, which vary from monster to monster. This will entail some good strategizing and equipping, not only for your main character, but for the allies that you will be bringing along into the field.
There are also tons of different locations to discover, ranging from jungles, deserts, and even volcanoes. Each contains their own resources, as well as monsters thrown in your way. Some areas, such as the underwater sections, will require deft fingers, and knowing your environment is also very important so that you will know which weapons and gear to bring along that will give you the biggest edge against any opponents that you will be facing.
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate also features several weapon types that you can use, each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. Luckily, there are no character classes to speak of within the game that will limit what weapons you can use, so you can switch between one or the other, though this may entail certain mastery of control and maintenance, especially when it comes to long range guns.
Like in Monster Hunter Tri, quests are what your characters will be doing most of the time. Different quests require different strategies, as mission parameters range from gathering resources to killing or even capturing monsters. Both online and offline quests are available, and completing a series of quests may open up another sequence of quests for the player, allowing them to discover new areas and have newer monsters to battle and conquer.
With regards to multiplayer support, the Wii U version of the game outshines the 3DS as the former supports online connections while the 3DS online supports local multiplayer. Still, the connectivity between both systems are pretty commendable, as lags and other discrepancies are pretty minimal, if any. Both text chatting and voice chatting are also supported, giving the players to have real time interactions aside from the one happening on the screen as they work together to bring down a common beast.
For playability, the standard storyline is reported to be at around 30 hours if you rush straight ahead. However, the game contains a myriad of things to do, especially within Moga Village, where players can do their farming for resources, and Port Tanzia, formerly the city of Loc Lac, where trading and accepting quests can be done. There are also tons of mini games and side quests available, and players might have to spend hundreds of hours in order to access everything there is within the game. In addition, DLCs will be released in order to provide players with new quests and other content, which would mean that there will always be something new to do and discover within the game. What’s even better is that it has been reported that these DLCs will be released free of charge, which will definitely delight those who have almost seen it all within the game.
Some visuals may seem spotty at times, but that is a very minor flaw as compared to the vast content available within the game. This may be the result of an oversight or pressure to finish the game on time, as video quality fluctuates from area to area. It can also be caused by the different resolutions within the WIi U and the 3DS, but all in all these are quite forgivable as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is still a visually engaging title to play despite these minor shortcomings.
So how does Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate stand up against its predecessor? For an expansion, it can be said that the game was able to live up to the game, and to the franchise as a whole, although it still contains pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages. One point for it is that there are a lot of things to do, and so many things to discover within this very expansive world and despite playing hundreds of hours, the game will not fail to surprise you with something new, whether it is a new monster, a new type of equipment, or a new location. On the other hand, the game suffers from the need to incessantly grind and be very detailed about how you set up your character’s equipment and abilities. It would seem as if every quest and every monster will require an entirely new plan, something that players would have to spend minutes on just so that their characters would not get trampled. Still, that latter point can also work to its advantage, as this very same feature would surely be able to entice players who love “thinking man” games.
The addition of a customizable screen is also a good touch, and the camera lock function is a saving grace for those who always seem to get lost when overwhelmed within a battle. Cross console functionality is also great, although some things could have been done about both the cross version incompatibility and the 3DS’ lack of online play support.
All in all, however, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has that chance to penetrate the Western market, and although it cannot match the reputation that this title has in Japan, chances are it will both be a commercial and critical success in the West as well. It offers solid gameplay and lots of content to discover, and even though players would just play through this game once or twice, the sheer volume of available quests and other elements would most likely ensure that that would be one very, very long playthrough, one filled with wonder, excitement, challenges, and enjoyment.
Tested on Nintendo 3DS. Final Score: 8/10
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was developed by Capcom and Eighting. It was published by Capcom and distributed by Nintendo. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was released late 2012 in Japan and mid March 2013 in other territories. It is available for both the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Wii U.