Monster Hunter is now officially ten years old, with the original title on PS2 arriving in Japan on 11th March 2004. Its early years were on Sony hardware, with the PS2 and outstanding success on the PSP, before Nintendo swooped to secure exclusive releases in the main series. Monster Hunter Tri on Wii has been followed by Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Monster Hunter 3 G in Japan) on Wii U and 3DS, with Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS the latest big-selling arrival. Monster Hunter 4 G arrives in Japan later this year on Nintendo's platform, while Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will be the localised effort in the West in early 2015.
It's been a diverse series, with mainline entries being joined by various expansions and spin-offs; one of these is the online-only subscription-based Monster Hunter Frontier G, originally on PC and then Xbox 360 before arriving on Wii U and PS3 late last year. That's only in Japan, of course, but there have been some suggestions of a potential Western release.
While a vital money-spinning franchise in Japan — Nintendo securing main-series entries for the 3DS in particular was an impressive business move — Monster Hunter hasn't broken far beyond an enthusiast's market in the West. It's not failing outside of Japan, and it's to the title's credit that there's still a devoted following and solid online community outside of Capcom's homeland, yet the company will be hoping that Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will provide a major Western breakthrough.
We've written before about the obsession the series can encourage and why it can succeed in the West, and time will tell as 2015 rolls around in terms of whether the latest 3DS entry can take off. We hope so, but now's a good opportunity to do an extravagant bow — in your gestures menu online, 3 Ultimate players — and salute the series. Below is the awesome anniversary video that Capcom released earlier in the year to get us in the mood.