Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Monster (Hunter) Mash

Hm, I guess I'd better squeeze in one more post before National Worthless Internet Day (April 1st). Just a few things off the top of my head before I get to the meat of this blog entry...

1. My Nintendo and the Miitomo app are now available in some (most? All?) locations. My Nintendo is a loyalty program, similar to the old Club Nintendo, but a lot more confusing and intrusive. There are three virtual currencies associated with your account, including tickets for Miitomo, gold coins for purchasing games online, and platinum coins for completing "missions," which generally involve letting Nintendo track your every move online. I don't know about you folks, but I'm not thrilled with sharing every morsel of personal information with Nintendo just to get a free copy of Super Punch Out.

Boy, does it.
(image from Lein)
2. RetroCollect reports that there's an English translation of the 7th Dragon 2020, a futuristic (if four years from now still counts...) role-playing game for the PSP. I had mixed thoughts about the news until I saw the combat system in action. It's got the same first person perspective as Dragon Quest, but makes much better use of it, with enemies literally leaping for your face with each attack. Why Sega didn't release this for the 3DS instead is anyone's guess, but at least it's available for something. Also, it's got a soundtrack from acclaimed composer Yuzo Koshiro, just in time for the theme Anne Lee is planning for April. If you want to participate in her game-along for next month (and are sick to death of Streets of Rage), this is a good place to start.

"Wait, I need to ruin your
career over inconsequential
(image from YouTube)
3. In "August never ends" news, geeks from that gate thing pressured Nintendo to fire marketing rep Allison Rapp, because... I don't know, honestly. I guess they were angry that Nintendo took the creepier parts out of the US versions of Xenoblade Chronicles X and Fire Emblem Fates and wanted someone's head on a platter for it. Nintendo had a thin excuse for Rapp's dismissal, but it'd be a lot easier for the company to tell whatever-Chan to piss up a rope than to fire an employee every time they have to localize a game for an American audience. They make these changes for a reason, people. Remember how fun our version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was? Remember how fun the Japanese version wasn't? Well, there you go.

Okay, now for that meat I was promising earlier. I came back to my Playstation TV after months of neglect, hoping that I could finally understand what makes Monster Hunter so popular. Here's what I discovered from my hours with Monster Hunter Freedom Unite...

* The tutorial missions are "optional" in that you don't have to do them, but you really, really should. Not only are they a stress-free source of cash, they help you get comfortable with the game's dauntingly dense play mechanics. There's a lot here to digest, and it's easier to take it all in when swarms of hungry dinosaurs aren't trying to digest you.

* Hands off the square button! While you'll occasionally need it to sheath your weapon and make your hero more maneuverable, it's also used to consume items, and it's entirely too easy to gulp down a valuable potion by mistake. Buttons are context-sensitive due to the PSP's limited input, changing their function depending on whether you're armed or not. You'd be wise to learn which button does what and when before you play it for real.

"Okay, you sit here looking cute,
and while the monster is eating you,
I'll run away."
(image from Wikia)
* Like real-life cats, the Felynes are as cute as the dickens but have little practical use. Maybe I need to raise their levels before I can cast judgment, but right now, they only seem good for three things: making terrible meals, digging around for useless items, and throwing bombs at already downed enemies (and the player).

* Don't let the training missions give you a false sense of confidence. You get the best weapons in the tutorial, but the actual missions are far less generous. You'll probably need to swat a popo (a woolly mammoth about the size of a pony) ten or twelve times with the standard issue sword before it dies. Be exceedingly thankful these creatures never get more than mildly perturbed... the giaprey (brightly colored raptors) are far more aggressive.

* Beware the Tigrex! This massive beast frequently appears in later missions to fill your heart with fear and your pants with... uh, other stuff. You're not even warned about this striped monster until you meet it face to face during what first appears to be a mundane quest. "Okay, I almost have enough Popo tongues and... what the blue blazing hell is THAT?! Did it just take three quarters of my energy with ONE SWIPE?!" When the Tigrex appears, you've got two options: run like a character from a Benny Hill sketch, or take a tour through its digestive system. (I strongly recommend the first option.)

Death on four legs.
(image from YouTube)
* This is one gorgeous PSP game. Not as nice as some titles I've seen on the Vita, and not quite as crisp as Monster Hunter 4 on the 3DS, but breathtaking considering the age of the system. It's got an impressive sense of scope, with your hero climbing steep mountains that overlook fields of grazing elk, and when you're trekking across the frozen tundra at the summit, you'll almost feel the wind and snow blasting in your face.

So I guess the bottom line is that I'm enjoying myself. Monster Hunter isn't a game that welcomes you with open arms, but you start to understand its appeal with some persistence.

1 comment:

  1. You really covered a bunch of bases in this post, didn't you? :) Here are some similarly far-reaching thoughts from yours truly:

    I'm happy about the My Nintendo stuff, esp. if it means Nintendo's finally working its head out of its own ass and working on an actual account system that lets people buy, say, Super Mario. Bros. for NES once and then play it on multiple systems.

    Corporations love money, though, and they especially love charging people for the same product over and over again if those people are willing to pay it. So, I'll believe Nintendo's move into the honest-to-goodness account space when I see it.

    As for Nintendo's firing of Alison Rapp--all I can say is I find it disgusting. I find it disgusting that the stupid ass GG jerks spent so much time harassing her (and her husband) and trying to get her canned, and I also find it disgusting that Nintendo gave into their efforts. Even if her supposed side job was as risque as some people are making out, I still don't think Nintendo should have fired her over it.

    Thankfully, Alison seems like a very bright and capable woman, so I'm sure she'll pick up something even better soon. Plus, NOA doesn't sound like the most appealing place to work for someone who's at all interesting or unique or edgy.

    Finally, 7th Dragon 2020. It's cool that an English fan translation is out. Not that I'm likely to make use of it anytime soon. I am going to try to work my way through the Japanese version of the game, though. I told you I recently picked up a CIB copy of it, right?

    Well, I also picked up a CIB copy of 7th Dragon 2020-II. And Grand Knights History. Ha! See what you've done? :P