Capcom's illustrious Monster Hunter series has grown into a phenomenon in recent years, with Monster Hunter 4 surpassing three million units sold just a couple months after its launch in Japan. With such wild popularity, it seems it would be easy for series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and the rest of the Monster Hunter crew at Capcom to rest on their laurels and make only marginal improvements. An interview with Joystiq, however, illustrates how Tsujimoto-san and his team constantly challenge themselves to keep the hunting experience from getting stale — all while keeping the heart of the franchise intact:

We tend to, on the design side, just think of things that we as players want to do in these worlds but are unable to do in the current state. You start with the kernel of an idea and then they kind of flow from there gradually, layering in more and more. It always comes back to empowering the player to perform more actions.

Tsujimoto-san used the term "freshness" to describe the new concepts added to each incremental step in the series. In the upcoming Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, that freshness starts with "jump attacks" — maneuvers that make use of the spear-like Insect Glaive weapon to vault over and even mount monsters. It also shoots insects at your enemies, an interesting mechanic that's sure to bring creative new hunting strategies to the table.

Beyond weapons and monsters, online play represents a huge part of Monster Hunter's core appeal; that being so, some 3DS owners may have felt shortchanged when Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate skipped stand-alone online multiplayer on the handheld (a Wii U and dedicated app were required to make that leap). That won't be a problem this time around, says Tsujimoto-san.

In a manner of speaking, all the things you could do with those two versions (3DS and Wii U) previously, you can now do in this one version. [We've] put a lot of time, energy and effort into making the 3DS version.

Making new iterations of a popular franchise can be difficult, especially one as venerable as Monster Hunter. Are you satisfied with the way Tsujimoto-san and the team at Capcom approach each new title? What are some of your favorite improvements to the series over the years? Let us know in the comments!