First off, happy 15th anniversary! I know it’s a little late, I’ve been away. And on this date, it got me thinking about the series, one of my, if not the main, favourite among video games. And above all else, how far the franchise has come.
Like a small handful of others, I started in first gen at an early age, getting MH a few days after release in the west. It’s amazing that this once small franchise now has Capcom’s best selling game under its belt. Even for those who didn’t play or even like games, the words ‘Street Fighter’ and ‘Resident Evil’ conjure up images of arcade explosions and blocky graphics in dimly lit corridors. The names are synonymous with gaming. And Monster Hunter looms over all of them, as the gold crown of this giant gaming company in a franchise that once barely scraped by outside of Japan.
Fond memories of getting absolutely bodied by Kut Ku and everything up are being relieved as I play back through it again and give me the chance to compare it to World. Looking back, I really get the impression that World is the style of game Capcom wanted to make from the very beginning. Just about every intro to the series has a form of ecological interaction, a turf war or act of predation. So indeed do a lot of the monster cutscenes. Capcom wanted these behaviours and actions from the start, the consoles just weren’t ready. It’s honestly fantastic that 15 years on, the Rathalos cutscene of him killing an Aptonoth that once caused my PS2 to wheeze running it in MH1, is now a common sight in World independent of the player.
On this note, now that the MH can finally spread it’s wings and soar with full maps devoid of loading screens, chock full of predators and prey engaging in natural struggles of life, that the MH team stuck to their guns and is commended for doing something so totally different. Monster hunting is not a new concept in video games. Fire breathing dragons have abounded since the arcade, and mountain sized kaiju. But no one really tried to ground them. The idea behind the franchise, but World especially, remind of Frank Herbert’s Dune in a way, in that the team built ecosystems for the monsters to live in. The beasts of MH were not created solely to be cool, the design team ask ‘Where does this live? What does the monster eat? What eats it?’ The lack of actual magic, and verisimilitude MH has always sought (whilst a little wonky in certain games) has always set it apart from the Dark Souls and Witchers and what not.
I believe now MH is at a peak, that the World-style games are the future of the franchise. I can’t wait for the new content Iceborne brings, and ‘World 2’ whenever it gets here. What started as a devout few hunting down Velociprey outside the village of Kotoko is now a multi-award winning, best selling, universally and critically acclaimed platinum title.
How far we’ve come indeed.
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