Hands-on Preview: Monster Hunter Tri (Nintendo Wii)

I have a strong appreciation for Monster Hunter as a series for a number of different reasons. The game world and design elements are outstanding, the gameplay, though frustrating at first, is great once you learn it, and frankly, it’s a whole lot of fun slaying giant monsters with my friends. As such, when Capcom sent us a demo of Monster Hunter Tri to test out, Alex didn’t even need to ask who wanted to test it out, he just gave it to me and asked me to check it out for the site. Truth be told, I’ve been anticipating the game since it was announced that the game would offer Classic Controller support, as I was more than a little worried about the idea of using the Wiimote and Nunchuck to play the game, and the fact that the game comes with an upgraded Classic Controller only makes the package better. Frankly, I’ve been waiting for a console release of a Monster Hunter game in the US for a while, as we were unfortunately denied the PS2 releases of Monster Hunter 2 and its expansion packs. The PSP Monster Hunter Freedom games are great, don’t get me wrong, but I was hoping for something I could play online without it being a pain, as well as something I could play on my TV without adapter cables and massive visual quality loss.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t get the demo into my Wii fast enough. Let’s take a look and see if my excitement was well founded.

The demo allows you to take on one of two missions, both of which are Slaying Missions, because who wants to take on a gathering mission in a demo? The missions showcase several of the new monster types in Monster Hunter Tri, between the two new giant monsters you’re tasked with taking down and the various smaller monsters you’ll see running about as you look around the area. The demo is pretty much meant to be a hand-holding experience for new players, as it makes things a good bit easier from the get-go. The giant monsters you’re attempting to destroy show up on the map without being painted, for example, and you’re given a whole lot of healing and stamina boosting items as well as battle-oriented consumables that you’re unlikely to have when you start off. The demo also has you choose a pre-made character based on their load-out, such as the fast-striking but weak damage Sword and Shield, the heavy damage but rather slow Long Sword, and multiple types of Bowguns for ranged combat, thus allowing you to test out the weaponry available if you’re totally new to Monster Hunter. For those who have spent a good amount of time with the PS2 and PSP games, the demo also allows you to play with the Switch Axe, an axe that can transform into a sword and vice-versa, allowing for some nasty damage when used right, as well as some new bullet types for gunners, so even if you’re a veteran the demo gives you a little taste of what to expect with the upcoming release.

I immediately jumped in with the Light Bowgun preset, because I’m a gunner above all else, and went to work.

The good news for fans of the older games is that the Classic Controller controls are excellent, by all indications. The button layout is the same as it is on the PSP games, and the buttons and triggers serve the exact same functions, making the controls easy to adjust to. If you’re more of a fan of the PS2’s control style, where the right stick dictated attack actions, you’re in luck, because Monster Hunter Tri also allows for that sort of play as well. The game can also be played with the Wiimote and Nunchuck, if you hate yourself, and the demo even included full explanations on how the Wiimote controls worked. Of the three control schemes, the button controls felt the most useful and intuitive of the lot, though this may be because I’m used to the PSP control scheme above all else. The stick controls mainly play a factor if you’re using melee weapons, as you attack by using the right stick instead of pressing buttons, and while this isn’t terribly intuitive, it works well enough to be usable. For Bowgun users, the stick controls amount to “Press Up to draw your weapon, press Down to reload”, and as such they are no more or less useful than the button controls, frankly. The Wiimote and Nunchuck controls are about as good as could be expected, and in all fairness, the controls with the Bowguns are actually not too bad. With melee weapons, however, the controls can become very weird, with twisting and turning the Wiimote playing a part in nearly every weapon style, and while these controls are functional if you have no other method available to you and they’re not as bad as one would expect, this control scheme is not at all the best way to play the game. Of course, Monster Hunter Tri comes complete with an upgraded Classic Controller in the box, so it’s fairly apparent Capcom knew this going in, and bless them for that.

After jumping into the first Slaying Mission, I opted to putter around for a bit and play with the weapons to see how the controls responded, and overall, I was impressed. The various Bowguns allow for first and third person aiming, and the melee weapons work as they did in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, so anyone who is a fan of the older weaponry will be happy that, so far anyway, nothing has been changed or nerfed. For those who haven’t seen it yet, the Switch Axe is an interesting heavy weapon that switches between a heavy axe and a medium-heavy blade, depending on the needs of the moment. The sword mode has a limited amount of use, as you’ll have to reload it after so many strikes, similar to how one would reload the Gunlance, but instead of allowing for ranged damage it instead allows for heavy close range damage that appears to have some sort of elemental affinity. In short: the Switch Axe looks like it’s going to be an interesting weapon class, but it’s probably going to appeal strictly to Longsword and Greatsword users, as the weapon itself is very slow in both forms. The environment supplied in the demo basically felt like your typical starting hunting ground, though it was a good bit more water-centric than one would normally expect. On the plus side, this allowed me to test out the swimming mechanics, and they work surprisingly well. Swimming itself is easy enough to control, and characters can fight monsters underwater in much the same way they fight them on land. I will note here that the swimming controls are somewhat better when using the right stick to look around instead of using it for combat. Also, the underwater dodge seems like it could possibly be less useful than dodging on land, though at this time it’s hard to tell, since I wasn’t able to engage either of the monsters in the demo underwater. We’ll have to see.

And on that note, let’s talk about the monster hunting itself.

There are two Slaying missions against two different “big” monsters, the first of which being meant as an introduction to Monster Hunter, the second being meant as a real challenge for the player. The first mission introduces the Jaggi monster class, which looks to be a replacement for the Velicoprey from the prior games. The Jaggi are small lizards that go down easily in battle, much like the Velicoprey, and much like the Velicoprey, their leader, the Great Jaggi, isn’t so much of a pushover. The Great Jaggi hits like a train and uses some moves fans will recognize, like the shoulder tackle of the Plesioth, but he’s a whole new threat despite the borrowing of old tricks. His most annoying trick is that he calls for help, which summons several Jaggi to the area to harass you, which won’t be a big problem for groups of hunters, but as a solo battle this was a bit of a problem to deal with. Still, felling the beast wasn’t too much of a hassle, and this serves as a good introduction to the world of Monster Hunter for those who’ve not had the chance to play it.

The second Slaying mission pits you against a new giant monster, the Qurupeco. At first glance, Qurupeco looks to be another Yian Kut Ku clone, but he’s a good bit different. He has an arcing projectile and some leaping attacks like Kut Ku, but also has an interesting attack where he bangs his wings together, then jumps at you as explosions launch from in front of him for big damage. Yikes. Further, he can imitate the call of the Great Jaggi and summon Jaggi to fight you on his behalf, which just seems kind of mean somehow. This Slaying mission would have benefited greatly from multiple player support, as between the twenty minute time limit, the constant harassment from the Jaggi, the need to learn how Qurupeco worked, and oh yes, the fact that a Great Jaggi was wandering around the hunting ground, well, I couldn’t pull it off with my Bowgun. The mission was by no means impossible, however, and with a little more practice or some help by way of some other hunters joining up, this would have been doable without too much effort.

Monster Hunter Tri is looking very promising so far, and looks like it’ll be a winner when it comes out in a few weeks. We here at Diehard GameFAN should have a review for you shortly after release, so keep your eyes out for it, and until then, I’m off to go practice a bit more.



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12 responses to “Hands-on Preview: Monster Hunter Tri (Nintendo Wii)”

  1. Thomas R Avatar

    Decisions, decisions.
    I really don’t want a Wii but this is released for it. I kinda don’t want a 360 but MH Frontiers is released for it.
    I really want a PS3 but there will be no Monster Hunters released on it.
    On the other hand, MH Tri will get released for the PSP but there won’t be any decent online play.
    Help me oh god of bad gamedom!

  2. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    That’s actually pretty amusing, considering that Monster Hunter Tri was originally announced for the PS3… and now it’s the only console WITHOUT one.

    Well, uh… I haven’t been very impressed with my PS3, if that helps? I mean, aside from Yakuza 3, Valkyria Chronicles and Folklore, I haven’t been impressed with the games I’ve bought for the console. Heavy Rain was entertaining, but (as I’ve said before) has a plot hole in it that’s larger than Michelle Duggar’s hoo-hah, God of War III is fine but so were the last two, and once you’ve beaten MGS4 there’s no reason to go back to it.

    Anyway, the Wii is only $200, so even if you get it JUST for Monster Hunter Tri, that’s not too painful.

  3. Thomas R Avatar

    I’m not very impressed by any of the new consoles and since I’ve played most the games you just mentioned at a friends place that kinda makes it worse.(Though you forgot Uncharted 2 which is awesome!)
    But I guess I should consider a Wii if only because it’s cheap. (Hopefully you get that special controller in Sweden too)
    Thanks for the answer anyway!

  4. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    Though you forgot Uncharted 2

    No I didn’t.

    which is awesome!

    We will have to agree to disagree on that.

    Well, personally, I like my 360 well enough. Multiple years of monitoring the progression of the consoles has shown that most games between the two are identical, and the few games that are better on the 360, like Bayonetta, are games I like, while the few that are better on the PS3, like Final Fantasy XIII, are games I don’t care about. The 360 also has more “niche” games that appeal to me than the PS3. While it’s great that I can get Demon’s Souls and Valkyria Chronicles for the PS3, on the 360 I have Earth Defense Force 2017, Oneechanbara, Raiden 4, Raiden Fighter Aces, Rumble Roses XX, and the upcoming Death Smiles to entertain me.

    I mean, the system blows up every time it gets warm out, sure, but the fact that this annoys me means there are games I want to play on it, so I consider it a fair trade-off (since Microsoft repairs it for free and all).

  5. Thomas R Avatar
    Thomas R

    You don’t?
    I would really like to hear the reasons because I can’t find much to complain about in it.

    Guess I’ve thought about a XBox but mainly for the Mass Effect series and maybe Rumble Roses. And Monster Hunter of course but it’s not 100% it’ll reach europe… (Also Oneechanbara looks fun but my friends refuses to buy it :( )

    Guess my main gripe with the new generation is that there’s barely any decent RPG’s released. Valkyria Chronicles was fantastic and I found ME2 to be a really fun experience even if the main story is bland. Have you tried Infinite Undiscovery? (lol)

  6. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    It’s Gears of Tomb Raider, and it does nothing special to me. As of this point, I’ve played the first three or so hours and defeated the final boss (a friend asked me to do it for him), and at no point did the game “WOW” me. I’m not saying it’s a BAD game, but it’s not something that knocks my socks off, and while it does nothing WRONG, it also failed to interest me in any way.

    Plus that stealth mission in the beginning was annoying. Sorry, but there it is.

    Oneechanbara is all about obliterating everything that gets in your way and I find it to be very fun, if very basic. There are other fun 360 games besides the ones I mentioned, but there are good exclusives for either system, so it’s kind of a case of “what do I want to play?” more than anything else.

    I thought Mass Effect 2’s story was pretty good, personally, so, again, agree to disagree. I didn’t play Infinite Undiscovery, but I’ve heard it’s solid, if not outstanding.

  7. Thomas R Avatar
    Thomas R

    Well nothing you can do about that!
    And I do of course admit that the game isn’t perfect, I just like the absurd cutscenes where stuff explodes everywhere and Nathan pulls off insane stunts.

    And I really like the characters in Mass Effect 2, especially Mordin and Grunt. Almost every sidemission was enjoyable but the main story was just a bit too thin. Just like the first game so it’s not like I was disappointed.

    The dialogue in Infinite Undiscovery is worse than it was in FFX, it really is one of those games where you laugh and then shake your head. It’s definitely Star Ocean 2 bad if you’ve played that.
    It really is odd the same team has done Star Ocean 2 and Valkyrie Profile…

  8. Thomas R Avatar
    Thomas R

    Ugh, realised I’m just defending myself.
    Move on people, nothing to see here!

  9. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    Eh. Nothing to be ashamed of. Debate is a healthy thing. We should not run from this thing.

    I liked the fact that Mass Effect 2 integrated the events from the first game into the second in a fashion that made it feel like I ACCOMPLISHED something in the first game. When one looks at the story itself, it’s anemic; some bad guys shoot you down and kill you, and two years later you go and stop them from kidnapping people to save the galaxy. That’s hardly exciting. But when one views the WHOLE story, including the callbacks to the first game, the character recruitment missions, the dialogue between characters and the little bits here and there that give life to the characters and the world, I think Mass Effect 2 is one of the best overall storytelling experiences released this year. Your mileage may vary.

    Yes, I unfortunately have played Star Ocean 2. I gave up on the game when I went to the coliseum and jacked out the main character to level 99, then realized that I could probably do that for EVERYONE if I was patient enough. At that point I said “Oh, no” and turned it off.

  10. Thomas R Avatar
    Thomas R

    When you put it that way I agree about Mass Effect,
    it’s more the way it’s told than the story itself.
    I’ve had the misfortune of seeing the majority of FFXIII and I have to say it tries terribly hard to be a engaging experience, too bad all the characters are cardboard characters as usual. Roleplaying games has always been about characters for me and Mass Effect 2 really has the most interesting cast in a long time. I wonder, has Lucard played it?

    And I forgot I had read you review of ME2…
    I was sceptical at first but your review made me give it a chance and it really is a improvement in every aspect. Planning to replay it a third time when the new character gets released.

    Also, max level in Star Ocean 2 is 256. Funny part is that 2 is way better than 3 which is better than 4.

  11. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    Well, to me, storytelling is more important than the story itself, mostly because the story itself is probably going to be like something else. Steven King basically tells the same few stories, but it’s the telling of the stories that make things like Cujo and Misery classics, while Insomnia is kind of a wash.

    I’m… going to play FFXIII eventually? I guess that’s the best way I can describe it. I’m not enthused.

    Played it? Probably not. But I believe he has spent some time looking it over. I believe the comparison that was made was that Toejam and Earl had a better story. To each their own, I says.

    Wow, 256? No, thank you.

  12. Thomas R Avatar

    Yeah I know what you’re saying, Reservoir Dogs would be a good example?

    I’ve seen the majority of the game and played a bit myself, it’s like a dumber FFX. Even the guy I saw playing it who’s a bit of a fanboy admits that it may be the worst FF so far. The only good thing about it would be the classchanging thing, it’s somewhat fun when you get into it. The game might be a 5 or 6 depending on how much lame dialogue you can stand. Since you guys don’t have a review (yet?) I’ll link my favourite one. It may be a bit long but it’s a fun read. http://www.actionbutton.net/?p=630

    Heh, sounds like something he would say.

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