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With a game like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, it's easy to see why a number of gamers would be tempted by the 3DS version. This is an experience that devours dozens of hours of your life, and indulging in the quest to that degree can be tricky if you're fighting over access to a shared TV in order to enjoy it.

Of course, the GamePad is designed to ease that problem, and Capcom has now released its promised update that introduces off-TV GamePad-only play, meaning you can pick up where you left off within a reasonable range of the console. In addition you get Wii U goodie such as accessory-free dual sticks, stronger visuals and, of course, the terrific online play.

Next time you fire up the game the update should install; it's live in Europe and Nintendo of America has tweeted to confirm the update for today. The off-TV mode is in the options, though this setting needs to be changed every time it's loaded — it doesn't remember that you played off-TV the last time around. There are two places to activate the new setting:

  • From the Main Menu screen select Options and then Game Settings; in this screen select Type 2 for Wii U GamePad (switch back to Type 1 for the normal dual screen setup).
  • Alternatively you can change the setting in your save. Hit Select to bring up your menu, and then select Options from the Info tab. Scroll to the third page and you'll see Wii U GamePad; you can switch between Type 1 and Type 2 here as well.

It's worth bearing in mind that this new setting does little more than mirror the TV view, rather than apply any external logic. For example, if you have the map set for your GamePad screen rather than the TV, it will disappear from view in off-TV unless you take it off the touch screen panel, at which point it will return to the main HUD. For veterans of Monster Hunter Tri on Wii, it's really a switch back to the HUD and controls of that original.

Another benefit of the update is that the servers are now trans-Atlantic, so gamers in North America and Europe will be able to play together. This should make it even easier to find games — though that's not been an issue to date — and GamePad-only play also works as normal in the online play. Naturally this does take away the convenient touch button to turn the GamePad microphone on for in-game chat, but you can switch that on, in online mode, with the following simple steps.

  • When in the Tavern or Marina bring up the menu with Select, then move along to the Online tab.
  • Select Network Options, Chat Settings, and then move down to Mic Input to turn it on for in-game chat.

For text chat, meanwhile, you can still bring up the GamePad keyboard for typing messages. Once you open the Chat box with ZL, hit the Start button to toggle the keypad on and off.

So there you have it. If ever a game needed off-TV play, it's this one, so let us know how you get on with the new mode — and your online matches with North American friends — in the comments below. Also drop a comment if you have any issues or enquiries and we'll try to help.