Initially scheduled for the week of the game's launch in April, ongoing issues with the Icelandic volcano dust cloud situation meant we had to postpone our interview with Monster Hunter Tri producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, but we're now able to bring you the interview in full.
Nintendo Life: Why do you think Monster Hunter been such a massive success in its native Japan but not as popular in the West?
Ryozo Tsujimoto You are right. It is very popular in Japan. However, it took us 5 years until we brought the franchise this far in Japan – I suppose the word of mouth tends to spread quicker in Japan where everyone speaks the same language but I am aware some of the franchise hasn’t even been released in the West and think there is still some room for tender loving care for the western market with more MH franchise over the next few years
NL: Have you been surprised by the critical reaction in the West so far?
RT: Very much so, positively. We’ve received very good scores in the review process from the press and the hype in the community has been phenomenal. I wish MH3 would be played for hours and hours to come, throughout Europe!
NL: Originally the game was announced for PlayStation 3, then it switched to Wii. What were the reasons behind this?
RT: We’ve been making many MH titles in the past – but never there has been an opportunity to challenge the very foundation of gaming – the controls. In this sense Wii Remote and Nunchuk for the Wii had a very attractive field for us to challenge. We of course didn’t want to leave behind the fans of the previous titles and this is where the Classic Controller Pro comes into the rescue. It is with great honour that we are able to provide two entirely different play styles and this was only possible on the Wii.
NL: What were some of the challenges involved in developing for the Wii?
RT: Although I just said the new control style for the Wii was a new field for us to challenge – and this was true in terms of difficulty of implementation. We’ve paid a great deal of attention into preserving the essence of MH combat system as well as adapting it to the new style.
NL: It sounds as though at least some of the music was recorded with a live orchestra, something we don't often hear on Wii. Was this important to the game's atmosphere?
RT: I find music to be a very important factor for expressing a game. It may induce a view of a certain world just upon hearing the tune, or it may bring back a certain scene back in mind. This way, music catalyses and narrows the gap between the players and the game itself.
NL: So far the controls have focused on the support for Classic Controller Pro. Is it true it was designed around this game and do you consider it a must-have for the best hunting experience?
RT: While the Classic Controller Pro was in development we were given the opportunity to give a few opinions there and then. As a result, playing MH3 with the Classic Controller Pro will feel exactly the same for those experienced MH franchise players. As you know in MH3 you are able to choose between the two styles, Wii Remote + Nunchuk or Classic Controller Pro and I would want people to try both styles as they both provide a completely new experience.
NL: Monster Hunter has gotten a reputation for itself as being a difficult game to get into, but ultimately very rewarding once you do. How did you strike this balance in Tri between catering to hardcore Monster Hunter vets while trying to ease in newcomers?
RT: In MH3 we were very conscious of people who have never played the franchise before. This is why the story mode has more of a weight this time – so people can naturally learn how to play, while being enticed in the story and slowly follow the path to mastering the hunt. Once online many players share what they know, forming a friendly, guiding community.
NL: Did you consider adding new monsters or including old favourites for the Western release? Could they be added as extra event quests in future, perhaps along with weapon types that were removed (Bow, Dual Swords, Gunlance)?
RT: We broadcast online event quests regularly but we don’t plan on distributing monsters online. Having said that, there are so many online event quests available you would have a lot of fun just going through they are thrown at you.
NL: MH3's online is remarkable for its Wii Speak support but mostly the lack of Friend Codes. Was this something you told Nintendo you needed, and was it difficult to arrange?
RT: Nintendo has been extremely helpful with our effort to make the online experience as pleasant as possible. MH broadens the horizon by miles when played online with others so I hope this helps and encourages people to play online.
NL: What was the reasoning behind European and US gamers having separate servers and are there any plans to change this to allow transcontinental play?
RT: Due to several affecting factors I’m afraid we need to keep the servers separated.
NL: Monster Hunter Tri has been out in Japan for a while now. Is the community still going strong over there?
RT: It is and many are online everyday. Quite a lot from the development team including I, log on quite often and enjoy the game in the public server.
NL: We hear about gamers who've spent thousands of hours on the game. What's the most number of hours you've heard of any one player putting into the series?
RT: The longest I’ve ever heard is 8000 hours…
NL: Any chance of Monster Hunter G Wii making its way over here at some point?
RT: Not at this moment.
NL: Everyone who's played a Monster Hunter game comes away with a particular favourite monster – we're all fond of Rathalos and Rathian. You've spent more time with them than anyone, do you have a favourite and why?
RT: Jhen Mohran! It is so big it’s nothing but impressive. I love it since I saw the concept design of it and have been an avid supporter since.
A big thank you to Mr Tsujimoto and everyone at Capcom and Nintendo who assisted in organising and translating this interview. Sean Aaron and Jon Wahlgren contributed to this interview.