Meet Watthew. He's the loneliest Monster Hunter in the world. He lives in a bizarre land that seems somehow familiar, one where he can't speak the language or understand what people ask of him - but Watthew knows one thing: hunt monsters. If only it were so easy...
Monster Hunter Tri G brings Wii's Monster Hunter Tri to 3DS, with plenty of additional content from the PSP's Monster Hunter Third and a sprinkling of new monsters and features. Watthew is a master of the Wii game, but this is no mere port of its ancestor - Tri G is built from the same parts, but assembled in a different way. Almost.
There's one big omission. Tri G lops off online multiplayer and simultaneously a big part of Monster Hunter's appeal, replacing it with local multiplayer only. It's why Watthew's such a lonely hunter. Monster Hunter is huge in Japan, where it's often played in meeting spots like cafes, but importers will be forever alone with this.
But enough of that, we hear you cry - what of Watthew in this foreign land? It's a sad tale.
One where a man cannot follow simple instructions, dies repeatedly from minor threats, and accidentally sells his best weapons before the biggest fight of his life. It is a tale about an idiot, full of sound and fury, returning from hunts with nothing. It begins in the same village as Tri, where Watthew soon makes his first mistake - talking to a cat dressed up as a pirate, and saying 'yes' (we think). He awoke in a foreign town in a new bed next to a smug looking moggy.
This is the multiplayer hub for Tri G's hunting antics, and a better-ordered space than Tri's default village, with every resource ahunter needs within easy reach - a base, blacksmiths, shops, restaurants and quest counters. Even in single-player you'll spend much time here tinkering with menus and juggling coins, especially when you're not quite sure what you're buying.
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
If you can't speak Japanese, and Watthew can't, Monster Hunter's text is a problem. There's not a gigantic amount, but what there is tends to be pretty important. It's perfectly possible to muddle through shopping and upgrades in the early stages, thanks largely to each item's stats, but later on the options are so bewilderingly diverse it's very time-consuming to parse them. A sidequest in TriG is getting a farm in the hub village to run efficiently and provide the items to craft potions, but working this out without knowing what the items are is difficult - it's a real convenience in the Wii version.
But the language barrier hurts most when questing, because many tasks involve collecting something specific from Tri G's levels. This can be anything from a mushroom to a butterfly to a particular monster gib, and though it's possible to work out roughly what kind of item it needs to be (different item classes have different symbols) the only way to know specifically is in the text.
It made Watthew's first five hours rather trial-and-error based. But with the appropriate items collected, he had bigger fowl to fry - in the first instance, a giant bird called Qurupeco. This red-frilled, horn-snouted pansy was rather fragile in Tri, but that's exactly the kind of thinking that got Watthew whupped.
Qurupeco has been on steroids, hitting the gym and taking his vitamins. In the first encounter, it took down Watthew with insulting ease, licking its filthy beak-lips as a devastating fire attack hit home. Each quest allows you three retries, so undaunted, our brave hero jumped back into the fray. And got smashed again, and again, and again.