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Dangerous Game: Nintendo Taking Monster Hunter from Sony

/ Mar 4th, 2013 8 Comments

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for 3DS

Gird your loins. Sharpen those knives. And sit in front of the fire pit preparing that succulent hamhock. Monster Hunter (MH) is coming back, and in a major way for the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. For the uninitiated, Monster Hunter is an immensely popular action role-playing game, where the player character (obviously) hunts monsters for rewards. With incredibly addicting and rewarding gameplay, one can get lost for many hours tracking the elusive beasts the game offers. While more of a cult hit for North American gamers, Monster Hunter is kind of a huge deal in the Japanese market. With Nintendo capitalizing on the franchise first, Sony may have been dealt another blow in the handheld market.

Addicting portable titles with RPG elements are the cornerstone of handhelds. A Nintendo handheld is synonymous with the Pokemon series. While the traditional Zelda and Mario games were great, Pokemon defined what a Gameboy is. This is the role that Monster Hunter once held with the PlayStation Portable and Sony in general. It was the definitive title that gave credence to owning a PSP. With MH3, albeit a souped up remake of Monster Hunter Tri, coming to the Wii U and 3DS, Nintendo is stealing Sony’s only Pokemon-esque game for the PlayStation Vita. This is going to be a major blow to them as the Japanese market is going to choose/need the 3DS to satisfy their hunting appetite.

The Japanese market is significant to Sony because they get more use out of handhelds than gamers on American shores. With such a dense population and need to efficiently utilize a limited amount living space (i.e. no 55” LED TVs for everyone), handheld gaming is suited just fine. Add in the fact that commuting by train is essential, this leaves much time to fire up the tiny screen and go adventuring for big game with fellow passengers. Much like how Nintendo needs its’ big players like Zelda and Metroid to move systems, Sony really needed a MH title to bring much needed sales to their handheld market.

One thing that Sony has pushed to the forefront with the PS Vita is the ability of cross-play with the PlayStation 3. While there have been some interesting titles included in the list, none of them have the command to send people scrambling to use the feature. This is where Monster Hunter would have been a perfect fit for Sony. Finishing a hunt on the big screen and then heading on out to continue monster poaching on the go with no compromises is how many envisioned it to be. Unfortunately for Sony, Nintendo is going to have the first crack at it and they get to set the precedence in how the mobile hunts will go.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for Wii U.

Even though Sony is going to be reeling from this damage, they have some advantages up their sleeve if Monster Hunter 4 does indeed make its way on the Vita. Control placement on the Vita feel just about right and are generally more comfortable than the 3DS. Yet the big advantage here is that Sony has dual analog sticks without the need for an attachment, a la Circle Pad Pro for the 3DS. Controlling games in 3D need to have dual sticks and this is where Nintendo comes in with a handicap. If there is one rule for an enjoyable gaming experience, it is that controls should be seamless and intuitive. No gamer wants to fumble around with the controls during an intense and draining battle. Especially after a lengthy and grueling fight with an elite hunt. It is going to take some restraint not to throw the handheld across the room if a missed arrow caused by a lackluster control layout was the difference between life or death. Here Sony has the edge.

The other advantage is that the Vita has graphical superiority to the Nintendo systems. This is even more evident with the recent showcase of the PlayStation 4’s capabilities. Even though the game engine may be the same in a MH game, the Vita will be able to claim a visual victory if time is taken to make sure it looks better than its Nintendo counterpart. If rumors of connectivity with the Vita also turn out to be true, it will invariably be the definitive version to own when monster hunting. To help further enhance their position, Sony should push Capcom to provide content only possible on the Sony ecosystem by way of expansive maps or exclusive hunts. This can be justified due to better hardware and resources.

Sony has left a large void to fill with the potential loss of the entire MH franchise to Nintendo. However, if they act fast and emphasize that Monster Hunter 4 for the Vita is going to be the one to play because of superior graphics, better cross-play and controls. They may be able to reclaim territory that once belonged solely to them. With Nintendo leading the way in the handheld market and stealing this gem from Sony, it will be interesting to see how they respond to all the MH faithful.

Mark Gonzales

Mark Gonzales

Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Mark is a contributor to Gaming Illustrated and part of the editorial team. He always has had an intense love for gaming and of the spoken word. During conversations, he is known to create elaborate anecdotal references to popular 90's phrases with varying levels of success.
Mark Gonzales
Mark Gonzales

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  • Dcj91x

    You all are a bit late on this article aren’t you? MH3g(U) has been out for over a year on the 3DS in Japan and yes it has sold quite well there. But also it has already been firmly announced that MH4 will not be on the vita. Also the controls for 3U on both the 3DS and WiiU work great. You have lots of options to suit your style and the WiiU version has been given many updates for lots of features that MH has never really had before.

    Also in case you didn’t know, though many of the games have not been release here in west MH has also been on the 360, PC, iPhone/pod, and other mobile devices. Not just Sony before going to Nintendo.

  • antiriad

    Well-this is the famous “innovation” from Nintendo.
    Buying a franchise that even hasn’t its origin on a Nintendo system and paying tons of money,just to prevent the game from beeing released on other systems while at the same time 0 new core IP’s were released in the past years-Yeah(imagine sony or microsoft buying pokemon and making it exclusive.Nintendo Fanboys wouldn’t stop crying and moaning until 2055,but the other it seems to be alright?).That’s great,innovative,innocent Nintendo -and they still play the same cheap game.Instead of making a new game or improve it technically.No-same low polygone count,just new textures.
    No wonder the Wii U version is selling bad.
    Finally People are waking up to these rip offs.

    • Korgoth

      I think you missed the fact that a great deal of the house that Sony built was done so with series that were “stolen” from Nintendo (FF, NG, MG, etc.) Don’t forget that Sony basically gave Capcom the finger as to a Western release of MH3P & MH3PHD for the PSP & PS3 respectively.

      Your example of Pokemon is particularly preposterous as that is a Nintendo OWNED series, not something from a 3rd party. That is the equivalent of a Nintendo version of God of War or … well really Sony has no other decent series it owns. The games that everyone points to as the MUST OWN TITLES on Sony Platforms are overwhelmingly games from 3rd parties who have no obligation to release their games on any particular system.

      Sony needs to start treating developers with respect, it’s a privilege that 3rd party developers CHOOSE to develop games for their consoles, NOT A RIGHT. 3rd parties will stop CHOOSING to develop for their consoles if they continue to be slighted. THAT is half the reason Nintendo is in the mess they are right now with 3rd party developers.

  • J_Joestar

    I don’t get it, where is this weird assumption that the Vita is getting MH4 coming from?

    • manowaffles

      Wishing and hoping for the system seller they bought their Vita without.

      • J_Joestar

        Silly entitlement issues then, other than first-party titles, people shouldn’t buy a system expecting unannounced titles to show up.

        • manowaffles

          It’s just one of those things we take for granted sometimes. It’s worse when a game is announced for a system and then moved to another one though. Like Final Fantasy (there were even screen shots of FF64), or Monster Hunter Tri (was originally being developed for the PS3, but moved to Wii due to difficulty programing on the PS3.)

  • Paco

    Cmon sony!!!!! I want to play monster hunter like the way ive been playing for so damn long!!!!! Cmon!!!!!!!!!!!!! Get MH4 On the ps3/ps4 and the vita!! Ive beaten my psp version 3 times over!!!!

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