The announcement of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for Europe and North America, as part of Nintendo's recent Wii U reveal extravaganzas, finally gave fans of the series a welcome fix after a rather lengthy delay. Some were disappointed with the titles coming in March 2013, especially as Japan will get the new 3DS-exclusive Monster Hunter 4 around the same time, but others may have been appeased by confirmation that there'll be genuine cross-play between the Wii U and 3DS versions, a potential first for both systems.
During last week's Tokyo Game Show series boss Ryozo Tsujimoto spoke to Eurogamer about the cross-play between the consoles; he explained that a free app must be downloaded to a 3DS which will then allow Wii U save data to be transferred to the handheld and played on the go, presumably as long as you have a full 3DS copy. Although online multiplayer will be restricted to the Wii U version, with the 3DS edition only having local play — though Monster Hunter 4 will go online — the idea is for Wii U and 3DS owners to use this functionality to meet up and play together.
We wanted people to play together. We know there are some people who want to play online. Unfortunately with the 3DS version you can't do that. But we have made this feature so you can play together. You can have your friends bring their save data to your house and have a Monster Hunter party. One person will play on the big screen and three other people will play with their 3DS versions. People can continue their save data from what they had before and go back home and update their data on their Wii U.
Wii U's online play, meanwhile, sounds like it'll be extremely similar to its predecessor on Wii, Monster Hunter Tri; not surprising considering they're both based on the same source material.
With internet play you can play with other hunters online. In terms of new features, we have text chat in the game. Right now we're looking into voice chat and seeing how we can get that to work, but it hasn't been 100 per cent confirmed.
In the game we have a friends list. So if you have your friends you know personally, you can add them to that list. That makes it very easy to jump to wherever they're playing.
If you want to find other players there is a search function you can use. Once you get four hunters connected together you'll automatically go off on a quest. We're trying to make an online experience that's extremely stress-free and easy to use for the players.
Tsujimoto also shared, in detail, his hopes for bringing the Japanese and Western Monster Hunter fan bases together, making improvements that will satisfy all gamers.
We know there are a lot of people overseas who have made their own Monster Hunter communities. We know there are a lot of people who are huge fans of the series overseas. We want to make products to continue to build that fan base. We know it's a fantastic game and an interesting game for overseas users. So we think if we continue working on the game, it'll eventually start to break out.
We don't want to segregate the two groups, like Japan and overseas. We view them as one group. The most important thing for us is we keep the essence of Monster at its core. We want to make sure everyone knows this is what Monster Hunter is all about.
We do get opinions and feedback from people from all over the world, not only in Japan, but also America and Europe and other countries. We take that all into account when we're developing our games. That's one of the reasons why we have this new feature called the Target Camera. We got a lot of feedback from fans, and they said one of the most difficult things about playing Monster Hunter is controlling the camera. So we added the Target Cam to the game so with the press of a button you can focus on one of the monsters you're fighting against. You don't have to spend all this time pressing the d-pad just to focus on a monster. You can just do a simple button press and you're done.
Those are the kinds of changes we want to make. They might be little changes, but they can turn out to be very significant as well.
While Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate may re-tread old ground with a new coat of paint, cross-play between Wii U and 3DS will certainly be an interesting idea to try out. Are you satisfied with this Western release, or would you prefer that Capcom make good on supporting "one group" of Monster Hunter gamers and localise Monster Hunter 4, instead? Let us know in the comments below.