Presence, Identification, & selling shit in tons Monster Hunter Freedom Unite
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite / Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon (beat it)
I completely missed Monster Hunter on ps2 or any other device, i knew it existed on 3ds but that was about it. Like Luigi’s Mansion the game’s creative impetus is one of identification. Do you want to hunt monsters? Answer: yes. Who wants to be a ghost buster? Me! Me! They reveal something unique about video games: when we usually play a game the mechanics draw us in. We don’t keep playing monopoly because we like pretending to be millionaires, the basic hallucination video games provide is often enough to draw us into the environment. Just looking cool if enough to make your game successful. Ok fine the later isn’t entirely true, but many people will put up with terri-bad design choices if the world and characters are cool. Monster Hunter lacks the robust movement skills in other games, it doesn’t have a.i. Thats horribly tricky, but it does a good job of making up for this by making it apparent long range and close range are games in themselves. In other words having an a.i. That simply flees the scene or jumps back forth is often enough to make the gameplay interesting especially when your hunter might be picking off long range peeps and your colossal swordsmen is dealing snorlax size doses of tranquilizer at close range. The game tries to spice things up with traps and conditions both of which are great additions and then it throws a nice long recovery from each slice in order to hide the mmo style recovers in the combat. However show almost anyone monster hunter and they’ll think its the most bad ass thing they’ve seen in their life. You can fucking hunt Wyverns in a land with Stegosauruses and sand worms.
Today Gearbox software revealed its latest game. An fps moba hybrid. The reveal trailer showed no gameplay. It was focused entirely on identification. The game will do what mobas do best: provide for numerous identifications. We had a “dude bro” (sorry dude) style cigar chomping chain gun toting bad ass, a whimsical elf, a princess who throws knives (me! Me!), a robotic gentleman, similar chains of identification run through the entirety of the moba world. Are mobas however dependent on identification and presence the way Monster Hunter is? No, they are complex and fun to play. Monster Hunter though reveals a lot about what makes Japanese games work: its the situation more than the character. Presence is the biggest part of their gameplay. Does Luigi’s Mansion ever offer truly flawless gameplay? No. Does Monster Hunter account for clipping issues with boss, problematic camera angles? Repetitive farming of quests? No. Its really if you stripped away the graphical identity, its not a terribly good game, but it would still be pretty awesome. However it has that magic sauce that makes games so appealing: interacting with others. But let me get back to the point Gearbox is making: the initial trailer didn’t tell us anything about the game, it only told who we could be. That the later is the more important message than the actual game is really quite amazing, but Monster Hunter provides a similar trick, it just happens to have a compelling world ripped straight from a previously unknown assemblage of American Indian iconography and caveman style prehistoric hunting missions.
What should this teach us about game design? Well the bigger lesson is in business. If you want to succeed do what the Japanese do: find a world everyone wants to live in, a situation more appealing than most games, and finally build some good gameplay mechanics around it. Presence counts for a lot, and if we can throw ourselves into a world all the better. Capcom and Nintendo know full well how to make a game right. Just take a boyhood fantasy and extend it outward, but Monster Hunter is a little more than its parts. It begins to emerge as a whole, one with strategy, cheap as mofos that rip you off, highly usable cats, and a good sense of humor. It has all of the components of a good game and I might just do cross-play with my 3ds and wii u whenever I buy one. I just don’t like the MMo grinding and I have no idea where to get monster bones for my bow.
Entry filed under: media.