Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: pigs and cats

Once I have a few quests under my belt in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate the game starts to open up but unfortunately not in the four hour phone call from my sister way in which I get every piece of information I could possibly wish for but in the conversation with my twelve year old son way in that I know something happened but I have to poke and prod and hope that I ask the right question at the right time.

But hey, I have a talking cat and a pig in a sombrero so it can’t all be bad.

After the jump, palicos and poogles…

I will give the game this, it does explain a lot more than any game in the series I have played before. It just doesn’t go as far as I’d like it to. I know that I have a palico, a sentient cat person who goes questing with me and provides valuable support during battles in the form of extra attacks, the occasional buff and acting as bait. I also know that I can get other palicos and then set one palico as a primary and then train palicos that aren’t resting or deployed. What I don’t know is how to get more palicos. I see them out and about but they’re more interested in stealing from me than joining my merry crew.

Similarly, I know that there aren’t classes in this game, there is only gear. If I want to rock the great sword, I equip it and go about my merry way. If I amass a bunch of various nuts and berries and then turn that stuff into ammo, I can switch classes to a gunner and be ready to shoot monsters in the face with no penalty to my skills. If I want to kill stronger monsters I get more stuff and build better gear. What I don’t know is why the game keeps telling me I’m going up a level even though I don’t see any appreciable difference to my character. I don’t have any additional gear options. I’m not seeing any different quests. As far as I can tell, everything is the same but the number keeps going up all the same.

I also got access to the guild hall which has its own series of quests but how those quests compare to the other quests found in the town proper is a mystery. Some of them are exactly the same, some are different. Some of them are considerably harder despite being the same number of stars. What’s the difference? What’s the reward? Who knows? It may all be buried in the various info screens in the game but staring at the DS’s less than stellar resolution to read about how to best dress my cat person isn’t exactly my idea of a good time.

Despite all of this, I don’t feel like Monster Hunter is being cruel or is hiding things in order to artificially ramp up the difficulty. I think it’s indifferent to the player’s success. If you figure it out and can go kill monsters, great. If you don’t and get chunks of your health taken off by beasties because you’re trying to sharpen your sword in the middle of a fight, hey kid, tough break. Oddly enough, I find this approach much better than games that are tuned to be extremely difficult. I guess when it comes down to it, I’ll take indifferent over punitive.

Despite having little to no idea of how the game’s more complex systems work, I’m still having a good time. I have a palico named Beanflake who is dressed like Mario, complete with an invincible hammer. I also have a pig named Poogie dressed in a vest and sombrero. When life gives you talking cats and sombrero wearing pigs you don’t worry too much about how much sense it makes. You just keep on enjoying killing monsters.

Tomorrow: well that didn’t last long
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