Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is old news in Japan — in the case of the 3DS version, very old news — yet it's one of two high-profile releases landing on the Wii U in the West in March, while also giving Nintendo handheld owners their first chance of slaying beasts while on the move. As the title suggests, this enhanced and expanded version of Wii title Monster Hunter Tri is the second entry in which Capcom and Nintendo have teamed up — Capcom does all of the development, of course, but Nintendo's played a vital role in localisation and marketing.
While the Wii release wasn't exactly a flop at retail, it wasn't an outstanding success either. Speaking to Eurogamer, producer Ryozo Tsujimoto explained that these new releases should help to bridge gaps in cultural and gaming habits in Japan, where the series is hugely popular, and the Western markets; the goal, of course, is to achieve strong sales. Notably, he also addressed the extensive wait between releases outside of Japan, suggesting that it should be improved if the market shows enough interest in the franchise.
Monster Hunter in Japan started and developed in a very different way to how it's been in Europe so far, Japan being a rather densely populated place with a quite prominent culture of visiting each other's places to play games together. You see kids carrying their consoles taking them to their friends. They already had this basis of playing games through local network, whereas it's a bit more difficult in the US and Europe where your neighbour is seven miles away.
With Wii U, which is online compatible, and with 3DS with its portability, releasing both of them together, we're giving opportunity and options to consumers to really pick up the version they want and the one that suits them.
By doing that we might be able to actually have a breakthrough. That's definitely our intention.
We're well aware of the complaints from the fans about the time difference of releases. We have been trying our best to try to reduce it.
So this time, with great help from Nintendo, we've managed to greatly shorten the delay in release and at the same time we're releasing it for both platforms, which is an achievement in a sense. So hopefully we can implement a more systematic way of doing this in the future.
Another key change that this new version seeks to add is an improved camera, with a "lock-on" option — especially useful for those without the Circle Pad Pro on 3DS — which should help to even out the difficulty for newcomers. That said, Tsujimoto told Eurogamer that a high degree of challenge is essential to the Monster Hunter franchise, and won't be compromised excessively to cater to more gamers.
Monster Hunter is an action game. It's got to be challenging. It's got to be solid in that sense. Not to the extent that it's heartbreaking. But it's got to have significant points to it.
You have a breakthrough. You hit a wall. You ponder for a bit. And then you breakthrough again. There are significant steps where you are satisfied in each, but it's never heartbreaking. It's a matter of balance in that sense.
...At the end of the day, the Monster Hunter difficulty is in the action element, not the camera control. We don't want people to be hindered because the camera control is awkward. We wanted to provide a comfortable environment for the players without spoiling the solidness of the game itself.
Tsujimoto wouldn't be drawn into talking about a Western release of Monster Hunter 4, saying that "before you talk about my next baby, I'd like you to love my first baby." Capcom is clearly hoping that releasing the title on both current Nintendo platforms, as well as including cross-device multiplayer and save sharing, will win a substantial audience.
What do you think of these comments, and do you think that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate can prove to be a major sales success in the West?