Monster Hunter Portable 3rd: First Impression

Monster Hunter Portable 3rd just arrived. There is so much to say about it and so little time. Even worse, there is so much to PLAY but so little time. But in a nutshell, they finally got it right. It is the definitive Monster Hunter experience to date. It’s incredibly deep, it’s rich in content, it’s beautiful and it’s polished. But there is a downside. Sadly, the game is available only in Japanese, so I’m not able to enjoy the full extent of the possibilities. So for example, simply using all the menus can get quite difficult and confusing at times. There are just so many different options and data. Of course translations such as the one provided by Social Dissonance help a lot:

There is even an entire Wiki dedicated to helping people with the translation. And sure, the game is playable this way. But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing a lot of secondary information because I can’t be bothered to check the Wiki every time I open a new menu. I’m looking forward to the day the game comes out in the west.

A lot of my difficulties also come simply from the fact that I never actually played a Monster Hunter on the PSP. I started out wit Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii. As it happens, Tri was somewhat an oddball. They changed a lot about the structure of the game. Some portions of the game were boiled down a little in Tri. For example, there were a lot less weapons, the Farm was simpler, etc. Out of curiosity, I picked up Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and I was surprised to see how similar in structure 3rd and Freedom Unite are. But then, it’s also shocking to see how much the game really improved since Freedom Unite.

And that’s where the lessons from Monster Hunter Tri come in. The levels in 3rd are party adopted from Tri, party new. They all follow a very different philosophy from Freedom Unite. They are incredibly rich in detail. Every section is unique and dense in interactive and visual objects. Compared to that, the levels in Freedom Unite look bland and barren. Also, the entire graphic design of the game comes with a ton of polish. All menus are crisp and elaborate. For example, all items are represented by tiny, sharp, vivid and extremely well recognizable icons. This is something I appreciate a lot when I actuarially can’t read a thing. But it’s also a step above the shabby menu design of Freedom Unite. The general layout is comparable, but next to 3rd, the menus of Freedom Unite look like alpha placeholders. Also, the menus in 3rd always seem to convey yet another layer of vital information. I’ll gladly point out some favorites when the western version comes out.

I’m enjoying the game a lot. The language barrier is big. But for Monster Hunter enthusiasts with Freedom Unite experience it shouldn’t be unsurmountable. So if you can’t wait, I do recommend importing.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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