With the increasing popularity of casual gaming and its subsequent profitability, it is only natural that some beloved franchises have ended up appearing in cellphone games as a pale shadow of what made them great in the first place. Capcom chose not to take this route with Monster Hunter Generations, creating a complex game where like most other titles in the franchise it is easy to sink over a hundred hours into in order to satisfy the most hardcore gamer. The newest installment is crafted in a way so that longtime fans will feel at home but it is also accessible to new hunters.
Advancement through the story is done by completing quests for the Wycademy. There are several training quests to acclimate to the finer points of how the game is played, and while these particular missions are not the most exciting it is advisable to complete them prior to jumping into the more thrilling ventures, especially if this is someone’s first Monster Hunter title. The Wycademy has a lot of research it wants to complete, which requires the player to kill and capture monsters, as well as mine minerals, gather plants, catch bugs, go fishing, and craft various items.
There is enough single player content to keep anyone occupied for a ridiculous amount of time, but multiplayer is where most of the game’s appeal shines through. Being able to play cooperatively with up to three other people greatly enhances the experience, and this can be done either locally via local connection or across the country through the magic online connectivity. Hunting trips and research expeditions are typically not solo affairs, so it only seems natural to include multiplayer. Having extra people on your side does help when hunting the really big game, as some of these behemoths are surprisingly quick and agile. Working as a cohesive unit adds a tactical element that cannot be replicated in a solo outing.
During the review process there was a recurring thought that this is what Dragon’s Dogma would be if the goal was to hunt wildlife and gather samples for field research. The game plays like numerous other action RPGs with the mission goal slightly altering how one handles a mission. Some missions require that resources are gathered from slain monsters, which are pretty straight forward as far as how those missions are approached. Sometimes the beast needs to be taken alive so it may be studied in captivity. These type of missions require more strategy since getting too overzealous can result in the unintentional creation of a monster carcass which is of little use to the researcher seeking a living specimen. Capturing monsters requires a few extra steps such as laying a trap and using a tranquilizer on them after they have been sufficiently weakened. Given how difficult some of these creatures can be to take down it is somewhat questionable how they can be safely contained at the Wycademy, but that is someone else’s problem to worry about.
For the antisocial gamer that wants some extra firepower when they go on a hunt are in luck since Palicoes are available as AI companions, provided they have a tolerance for near constant meowing. These Feylines that are outfitted for battle are helpful when being attacked from multiple sides but Generations introduces a new way to play with Palicoes: they can now be controlled by the player. Switching from Hunter mode to Prowler mode allows the player to take control of one of the Palicoes they have in their possession. Controlling an armed sentient cat creature opens up a completely new feel to this established series and offers a different play style. More importantly, holding down the R button while moving makes the Feyline scamper on all fours just like a real life battle cat, which is a rather humorous sight to behold.
In addition to Palicoes no longer limited to simply being an AI companion, they have tweaked the battle system with the introduction of Hunter Arts and Hunter Styles to add a new feel to the traditional Hunter Mode. Hunter Arts are special moves that have to be charged prior to their use, which is done throughout regular battle. These Arts can be used any time after they are charged by using the touch screen and depending on which Arts are equipped can have a variety of effects. These can be extremely powerful special attacks or an acrobatic dodge that can propel the character to safety from virtually any devastating attack they may be the target. Or they can provide a status buff or heal damage.
Hunter Styles are different fighting styles that can be utilized to further customize the gaming experience. There are four different Styles, and each weapon has a unique set of attacks within each of them. The Guild Style is designed to be the most well rounded approach and will feel the most familiar to veteran hunters. The Aerial Style has an emphasis on leaping attacks, which also allows players to get on top of monsters and use them as a launching pad. The Striker Style is not as technical as the other Styles but focuses on special attacks, allowing the player to equip three instead of the two the other Styles allows. The Adept Style is well suited for players who want to add a ninja level of finesse to their hunting, allowing for powerful counterattacks after successfully avoiding a monster’s attack. These different Styles combined with 14 different weapon types means that just about everyone will be able to find a combat style that suits them perfectly. Being able to customize the appearance of your character as well as the Palicoes, and the variety of weapon types and Hunter Styles can make multiplayer that much more interesting. Something that has always been personally enjoyable about games like this is seeing how other people choose to design their character and what play style they choose to employ.
Visually this is one of the more impressive titles that is on the 3DS. The level of realism in the creature design in addition to including nonthreatening monsters allows for a sense of immersion as if one is exploring an actual ecosystem, saying the world of Monster Hunter Generations resembles a fantasy world version of Jurassic Park is not an inaccurate statement. The world is filled with interesting looking creatures that appear as a great meld between real world animals and nicely crafted works of fantasy monster art. The main negative thing this reviewer encountered is the controls are not as smooth as some other titles Capcom has released. In fairness, this may be a result of a complex game trying to be all it can be on a system where the button layout is not as friendly for complex action games as a controller might be. Moving the camera angle can be done with the directional pad as well as the right thumbstick, but neither option feels as natural due to its placement in relation to the action buttons. The controls are not game ruining by any stretch of the imagination, but even after several hours of playtime they still felt a little awkward.
Monster Hunter Generations is an action RPG that is designed to consume your life. With countless quests that can be tackled solo or with friends, it is easy to sink hundreds of hours into Generations, but this should not surprise anyone who is familiar with the franchise. Doing all the training missions makes everything get off to a slow start, but given how much there is to do here it is a worthwhile endeavor since they take all the complexities of this title and break them down to their simplest components. After that is out of the way the player is free to lose themselves in an adventure that can keep them entertained for months. The summer sun is hot and mosquitoes are annoying, so the summer launch of Monster Hunter Generations is a perfect excuse to stay indoors until fall weather comes around.