excited to be excited about monster hunter again

monster hunter 3 ultimate

in the february of 2013, from within the dank recesses of a psuedo-suede couch that my roommates and i had received (no questions asked), i downloaded a demo for monster hunter 3 ultimate on the nintendo wii u eshop. i had never played a monster hunter game before—in the twilight years of monster hunter tri for the nintendo wii, i had considered it. but the waning online community and lack of interest from the one friend i had with a wii made me (sensibly) pass on it. i had heard about the free demo for 3 ultimate on 3ds and wii u, but had decided to pass on it until i saw a group of flannel-coated jocks in the courtyard of the humanities building on my college campus, huddled furtively with their 3ds's. they murmured to one another, and i sensed a pattern to their behaviors. they divvied up tasks, coordinated their efforts, and erupted with the joy or sorrow in concert. i rolled the possible games through my bingo-ball brain, trying to figure out what multiplayer game was available on the 3ds that demanded this sort of joint-effort.

as i waited for my coffee at the campus's hobbling coffee cart, i watched them jealously, men getting incredible kicks from things i could not know. i stood nearby, clutching my cup of boiling bilge water, killing time before class, and not very successfully trying to scope out one of the four screens in the courtyard. just as i was about to pluck up the courage to ask these burly men (they were *huge* dudes) what they were playing, another of their kind wandered over with a milky frapp and exclaimed, "monster hunter?? epic, bro!" (i was living in california at the time, and folks said "epic" unceasingly through the early aughts. maybe they did in your town, too! what a world.)

i have always craved a multiplayer game that could draw that much of my attention and the attention of my teammates for hour-long-ish sessions—the perfect amount of time to really dig your heels in and figure something out together as a team with strategies and game verbs that felt real. but in those days there was nothing on hand that i was interested in or looking to be interested in. one of my roommates was deep into dota 2 and had tried to get everyone in our apartment to join him, but it proved to be too technical and have a userbase that proved too frustrating to deal with. mmorpg's like world of warcraft, final fantasy xiv, and elder scrolls online cost money and didn't seem to scratch that itch without dozens (if not hundreds!) of hours of investment. and i did not (and continue to not) like first person shooters. so pickings were slim!

thinking that this new monster hunter game might satisfy this craving of mine for intense cooperative gameplay, i did some research and found that i could dust off my wii u (yes, even in 2013 it was collecting dust...) and play something other than earthbound (play earthbound, by the by) and download a demo. a test trial! what luck! booting it up, the aesthetic of the game was fun and different than anything i'd seen before, and the game told me that i had to hunt the "lugombi", what seemed a cross between a polar bear and wolverine. a list of weapons popped up with familiar types (sword and shield, hammer, bow, lance, etc.), so of course i gravitated towards the exotic "gunlance" (which i now know is one of the most technical weapons in the game) and began my hunt for the wretched beast.

to make a frustrating story short, i gave up after an hour of miserable encounters with the slippery fiend. i despaired when i saw that i had exhausted most of the demo's uses (of course, nintendo had put a limit on how many encounters you could have with the creature in the demo of the game). in retrospect i found i not only had picked an incredibly technical weapon, but that the demo had not adequately gauged its purpose as a demo to interest possible new fans to the series, featuring a monster that was incredibly tricky to corner and conquer for any beginner. so i uninstalled the game (the wii u only had 8gb of internal memory... a poor, miserable system, sent out to die...) and forgot about monster hunter until 2015.

monster hunter 4 ultimate