Monster Hunter Tri Guide

It’s a good sign that you are hopelessly obsessed with a game when you find yourself buying accessories to said game that you can’t even really use. This just got in:

Monster Hunter Guide Cover

It’s the official Monster Hunter Tri Guide … in Japanese o_O

I have the habit to buy game guides to games I invested a lot of time it. I buy them not so much to help me get trough the game. I rather buy them to have a tangible memento of the world I spend so much time in. I love to simply browse trough the pages like trough some sort of a photo album. And sometimes the guides do deliver some additional goodies like concept art or cool info graphics.

The Japanese Monster Hunter Tri Guide may be the best game guide I have ever seen. It’s a huge, beautiful and incredibly detailed compendium on the Monster Hunter Tri universe. Let me give you a short tour.

The print and paper quality is amazing. For example, the jacket cover is embossed with a leathery texture reminiscent of the skin of an animal – an awesome touch. The format is pretty sweet, too. From Piggyback or Bradygames, I’m used to unwieldy A4 books. But this one is a cute A5 book.

Monster Hunter Cover Close

The cover is made of real dinosaur skin… grr

But it’s not just flashy decoration. The guide has over 700 pages and they certainly aren’t filler. Each page is designed with care and great attention to detail covering pretty much every aspect of the game quite thoroughly. For example, here is a beautiful diagram showing the different moves of a certain weapon type. The diagram visualizes how moves can be linked into a combo. This is not an exception, there is such a diagram for every weapon type.

Monster Hunter Guide Combo

A typical page from the book: a combo map for the lance.

Of course, one major subject of the book are the monsters themselves. There are several pages dedicated to describe the stats and behavior of each monster. Here is the first double-spread on Rathalos. It includes general stats, dropped items (along with probability and how different factors modify the odds) and even a breakdown of different hit zones along with their vulnerability to different types of attacks. I love the little screenshots at the lower right. In Monster Hunter Tri each monster can be wounded in a special way. The special wounds result in different item drops. For example, you can only get a tail of you really manage to cut off the tail. The book not only lists different types of wounds. It also shows before / after screenshots so you can tell if you have been successful – something I have been struggling with at times.

Monster Hunter Guide Monster Stats

After this briefing, my current arch-enemy, the Rathalos, is soon going to be monster chicken nuggets.

Simpyl brwsing trough the books is amazing. It is full of beautiful infographics and diagrams. I have no clue what most of the stuff is but it is evident that some talented people invested a lot of time to make sure even the most minute aspects are conveyed.

Monster Hunter Another

I have no idea what this is but it looks gorgeous… and it makes me want to find out even more!

As I said, the print quality is outstanding. All graphics are designed in different shades of beautiful pastel colors. Clearly hey have been done by people with a good understanding of how ink works on paper. Due to the small format, all graphics use the high resolution of print very well. The density of information is quite astonishing. Take a look at this close-up the decoration on one of the info graphics from above.

Monster Hunter Tri Print

Print porn!

It just pains me that the language barrier prevents me from digging into this wealth of knowledge. I have been learning Katakana for a few weeks now and I can read almost all of those characters. However, this book depends a lot on “real” Kanji.

I got a free Japanese dictionary for the iPod and started to translate some of the stuff. This was my first exposure to Kanji and the difficulties are daunting. It took me well over 20 minutes to get those first few words down.

Monster Hunter Guide Translation

My attempt at first translations. I’m sure it’s not literal but I hope I got the gist of it?

Most of the time, the problem lies simply in finding a character from the book in the dictionary. With over 1000 basic Kanji, it’s not like you can just browse through a list. There seem to be different systems of breaking down Kanji into elements and categorizing them. Just wrapping my head around them took some time. Some of the Kanji are just crazy and almost illegible at the small character size of the book. For example this Kanji is used in the word “verge of death” in the photo above. At this font size the Kanji is a clusterfuck of tiny dots!

But I was able to figure it out after all and I’m beginning to get the hang of it. I will probably never be able to read such a book fluently but I might be able to dig into some of the infographics and tables quite soon. I will keep you posed on my breakthroughs.

I got the book from PlayAsia. If you love Monster Hunter Tri, quality print and information design like I do, it is quite a treat – especially if you can read Japanese.

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.

9 responses to “Monster Hunter Tri Guide”

  1. Jen

    That’s a fantastic looking guide.

    I don’t know any Japanese unfortunately but I still have an urge to buy this!

  2. Radek

    I love strategy guides for much the same reason: they’re like tangible scrapbooks of worlds I enjoyed exploring.

    They’re also a fantastic design resource even though I don’t often hear designers publicly admit to using ‘em.

  3. Clayton Hughes

    Most of the Kanji dictionaries I’ve seen are organized by stroke count. There are a few rules for drawing the Kanji, and once you’ve got them down you can pretty easily identify how many brush-strokes are used to write it, making it a bit easier to find.

    That seems pretty daunting, though. Good luck! This won’t help you here, but if you’re translating Kanji on a PC, I’d recommend Firefox’s Rikaichan extension (or Rikaikun for Chrome).

  4. sirleto

    the pictures look awesome … 700 pages of that? i would buy that JUST FOR OWNING it, too. and i haven’t even played the game :-)

  5. One A Day Picks of the Week 14th – 20th June « rudderless

    [...] piece about a hard day is the most moving #oneaday of this week: read it. Krystian Majewski’s excellent piece on the Japanese Monster Hunter guide book, meanwhile, really resonated with me as it’s exactly the sort of thing I used to buy and [...]

  6. dj

    i wont to buy it

  7. Daniel Meadows

    This looks supremley awesome im going to learn to read and write Japanese next year in high school so maybe i’ll get it to don’t know how much success i’ll have translating it but if i do manage to do the whole thing i’d stick it up on Scribd so that we may share its beauty and wisdom.

  8. Dennis

    If you finished the whole translation, I will buy it from you ;)

  9. matty

    Hey dude, is there like that in Philippines, i want one of those, for our Guild, though we cant find one


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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