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Monster Hunter Stories – First Impressions

James D Ollero

A young writer inspired by the worlds he explores through fictional media.Thinks (a little too) hard about the right words to say in his pieces.

After arriving at the Tokyo Game Show, I saw that the Capcom Booth had playable demos for Monster Hunter Stories. As a fan of Monster Hunter and RPGs, I had to try this game out. The unique selling point for this cutesy spin-off is the ability to collect and ride monsters. I was surprised at the amount of depth this game had, even in the 20 minutes they gave me to try it out. Then again it’s a Monster Hunter title so it shouldn’t have been all that surprising.

The demo begins with players walking through a tunnel with harvestable resources on a quest to find their first monster egg. At this point, I shuffled through my weapons and armor and found 3 outfits, 3 Great Swords, and 3 Swords and Shields. Armor in this game is limited to 1-piece sets as opposed to 5 pieces to mix and match in regular Monster Hunter. Affinity and Elements/Ailments will be in the game, but I haven’t gotten the chance to try out Ailments.

Monster Hunter Stories

After going through a tunnel, they find an egg next to a sleeping Kut Ku. After the player picks it up, the Kut Ku awakens and they must dodge the charge on their way back into the tunnel. Once they reach safety, the player talks with the village elder and hatches the monster egg to reveal a random Monstie.

Players hatch monsties by touching it on the touch screen. Depending on how they touch it, the Monstie will get different bonuses, like HP and Attack. At this point, I got a Kut Ku.

After hatching your Monstie, you can talk to your “Felyne” partner and head off on a mission. Once the mission starts, your “Felyne” directs you to an Aptonoth for a battle tutorial.

Just like later iterations of the Dragon Quest series, the Monsters are visible on the field. No random encounters except the ones you don’t see coming. When combat begins, it’s you and your Monstie vs. whichever monster you ran into with maybe 1 or 2 additional monsters. Along with basic attacks, you and your monster each have special skills. You can also switch Monsties (But you only get one in the demo) and use items, or if you have enough meter, ride on your Monstie in battle.

MH Stories

Basic attacks come in 3 forms: Power, Speed, and Technical. When an ally and an enemy attack each other with basic attacks, it uses a rock-paper-scissors system, with certain monsters favoring certain attacks. The winner of the jan-ken-pon deals greater damage while the loser does scratch if any. If you and your opponent use the same type of basic attack, both your attacks land. So theoretically, you can cancel Monster attacks if you can read them.

Special skills based on the player’s and monster’s weapon type and species, respectively. A few special attacks that come to mind are the Shield and Sword’s Shield Bash and the Velociprey’s Howl that raises an ally’s attack. I have not seen any special effects these attacks have, but they do have a limited amount of uses per day.

From time to time, your Monstie will clash with another monster. When that happens, a QTE appears and you have to mash A to give your Monstie the advantage.

There are actually two forms of limit break gauges in this game: Unite (Rough Translation) and Rider. You charge Unite by fighting in battle with your Monstie, and when it fills up, you can ride your monster. On your Monstie, you get a noticeable boost, but as you and your Monstie are 1 unit at this point, there’s no way to attack multiple monsters barring special moves. Keep fighting in this form and you charge up the rider gauge which levels up your super move that forces you to dismount your monster afterward. There were also 3 hearts between yous and the Monstie’s HP bars, but I had no idea what those were for. After each battle, you and your monstie get exp and loot, as well as a grade based on how well you fought the battle. As expected, faster fights with little damage taken gets you a higher grade, so players are encouraged to fight intelligently and memorize attack patterns.

When I landed the killing blow on the Aptonoth, the game froze on me, and I had to start over from the beginning. When I started again, I got a Velocidrome and I beat the Aptonoth without crashing. From here, players are free to explore the wide range in front of them, either on foot or on Monstie. Players can also use their Monstie’s abilities (like a Congalala’s climbing and a Rathalos’ Flight) to traverse the terrain. Other Large Monsters like Arzuros and Blue Kut Ku wander around as regular enemies as well, so great care is mandatory to avoid wasting resources or outright dying.

After using your monster’s ability and walking through a cavern, you run into the target of your mission: A Rathalos. Unlike regular encounters, the boss Rathalos’s health bar remained obscured by a grey line, leaving me to guess just when he was ready to die. With this in mind, I speculate that capturing the monsters will be a feature in this game as well.

Monster Hunter Stories

In regards to the graphics, they hold up well with the New 3DS. Along with the rugged designs of the Monsters, the game also has a cell-shaded cartoony style to further obscure any “Jaggies.” Even with 3D on, the game suffered only from one notable frame drop during my demo.

After landing the killing blow on the Rathalos, the demo ended, and my “Felyne” thanked me for playing. A bit after, the game told me that it would be releasing in Japan 2016. I have no doubts that it will come to America, but the question is when.

About James D Ollero

A young writer inspired by the worlds he explores through fictional media. Thinks (a little too) hard about the right words to say in his pieces.

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