Ragnarok Odyssey Director On How Hunting Games Can Be More Popular In The West

By Spencer . September 14, 2012 . 6:00pm

Gung Ho Online Entertainment has been expanding the Ragnarok Online franchise by blending the series’ history with different game genres. They created the strategy RPG title Ragnarok Tactics for PSP and the PlayStation Vita hunting action game Ragnarok Odyssey which Xseed will release in October.



When Capcom brought Monster Hunter to PSP they started an ad-hoc hunting game craze in Asia, but this phenomenon hasn’t caught on in the West. What would make hunting games, like Ragnarok Odyssey, more popular here? We asked the game’s director, Kazuhiro Irie.


There really haven’t been many cases where titles that have grown popular in Japan performed just as well overseas. Ordinarily, I’d say you’d need to take a title that’s doing well, make it into a series and run a long-term promotion on it, and only then would it do well – so maybe one shouldn’t expect instant sales on games like this. Rather, I think it’s best just to build up the series’ reputation and create a good rapport with the fans, allowing the genre to grow naturally.


Also, when thinking of the North American and European markets, one tends to think of online play as being more important than the single-player campaign. The single-player game needs to be good, of course, but having exceptional multiplayer is absolutely essential to success, I believe.


And finally… this isn’t just limited to overseas fans, but for fans of hunting games in general, I think being able to play on a big screen is pretty important. The bigger, the better, especially in a game like this with enormous screen-filling bosses. I’m sure there are many people who would prefer a big screen to enjoy the intense, showy action this genre is known for, and there may be other players who would really prefer to play games like this with a controller, too.




Going beyond advertising and releasing more MonHun, what do you think can grow the hunting genre in the West?

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  • SpiderCVIII

    Only more MonHun can help MonHun releases expand hunting genre here in ye olde West.

  • Manny Being Manny

    I think actually giving it advertising would help. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a commercial for Monster Hunter over here.

    • Testsubject909

      Definitely. Marketing is key. Word of mouth can create success like Demon’s Souls and Guitar Hero, but that’s incidental publicity through the spread of brand recognition.

      As such, at the basic, marketing is key. Right after having made a solid gaming experience because if the game is crap, even if you market it well and make a profit… People aren’t going to be happy and that’s sacrificing long term there for the short term as opposed to the vice versa… Then again, with how people are… *goes walking off talking to himself because otherwise this will turn into a very, very long monologue*

    • Brandonmkii
  • Locklear93

    I’m an outlier here, and I know it, but multiplayer does nothing for me in most games.  There are exceptions, and I do like MMOs, generally, but most of my favorite games have been single player.

  • Happy Gamer

    I am not much of a “you must have multiplayer mode!” at all. in fact i prefer a solid single player over a mediocre game that was left behind in terms of quality to add a MP option.

    However, I really do like these types of games, but the problems is that finding someone to play it was a huge problem (I am specifically talking about Monster Hunter series). I have bought MH and GE both only to end up playing it alone, in which it get boring after awhile.
    It’s such a shame that I missed out on the funness (wow terrible make up word lol) of those games but I hope it somehow expands more so using newer technology.
    If the USA was a bit smaller with higher population density it would be so much easier to meet up and play.

    I would really like to try Ragnarok Odyssey tho looks fun

  • While I prefer single player over multiplayer, I have to agree that I would really prefer to see more hunting games on home consoles. I have horrible eyesight and really have trouble playing portable games for an extended period of time, so it would be great to not be forced to strain my eyes in order to enjoy the genre.

    I certainly see why they work on handheld consoles, though. People love to be able to take their games on the go. Having options would just be nice- for me, at least.

    • For your statements about console releases and choice. Well MH3U says “Hello.”

      • Indeed, and I am very happy about it. I hope it starts a new trend.

        • That would be cool. MH4 is coming so they would pull a MH4 3DS/Wii U like they are doing for 3U. That would be nice.

  • doubletaco

    For Hunting games it’s absolutely essential to be able to get online with it in some way — either via hosted services from the devs or tunneling via Xlink Kai or other similar programs.

    I don’t know anybody near me who plays Monster Hunter, and I sure wouldn’t still be playing it if I didn’t have a way to play it co-op.

  • $30632660

    I prefer Single Player to Multiplayer, but games like MonHun NEEDS online for me to stay interested.

  • FitzpatrickPhillips

    The only real way to do it is to release it on the consoles. Also, I know I’m the minority here in this opinion, but I think Monster Hunter is the worse of the hunting games. Sure it has an insane amount of content but the actual gameplay is clunky, slow, sometimes unresponsive, and having to resort to use the claw is just a poor decision and alienates people. Games like Ragnarok Odyssey or God Eater need to hit the big screen – then it might gain popularity.

    • Blesmi

      The thing is, MH is supposed to be not just a game, but more of a hunting sim. The “clunky” and slow feeling comes from that. Take great sword for example. Those things are huge, thus it takes a great amount of effort to swing one thus it is slow. Same thing for no air dashing and stuff like that, it’s not realistic. That’s the key difference I find between MH and games like God Eater, Ragnarok Odyssey, and Lord of Arcana/Apocalypse. Those all feel like games. Monster Hunter feels REAL. But that’s just what I think.

      • FitzpatrickPhillips

        & @theworldofnoboundries:disqus 

        I can understand that logic – that one misstep can cause your life. The thing is, this isn’t anything unique to Monster Hunter. Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls do the same thing, and they do it about a hundred times better because controls are responsive and it just “feels” much better. Everything about Mon Hon’s controls is clunky, even if you’re not using the great sword. Meanwhile the claymore in Dark Souls is heavy as hell but feels just right. There is strategy in Ragnarok Odyssey, but it isn’t on the slow paced level since you have way more “flashy” options like jumping, air dashing and air-combos. 

        • Kevin Lor

          I had no problem with the controls for MH. I actually like the difficulty level of MH compare to the other hunting games. Beating my first Tigrex solo felt good as heck :9

          • FitzpatrickPhillips

            Difficulty is fine when the gameplay is fun and responsive like in Dark Souls or something. I defeated Tigrex as well and it was more of a “I’m so glad this is over” than feeling good. But to each his own, of course.

        • PoweredByHentai

          I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said.  Demon’s Souls also has a deliberate approach to combat but at least when I die, it isn’t due to something that is completely out of my control, like getting stun-locked by a horde of smaller monsters.

          I felt that Ragnarok Odyssey gave me a lot of options and back-up options to how I want to approach a problem.  And the responsiveness of its controls ensured that my actions proceed according to plan.  I really don’t feel like I’m in control of the flow of combat in Monster Hunter whereas Demon’s Souls and Ragnarok Odyssey gave me that “you have absolute control” feeling.

          One of things that sort of annoyed me about Monster Hunter is the knock-back issue.  Say that a monster knocked you off balance and you are now laying on your back; so why does it take so long for you to get up when you still have 90 to 95% of your HP?  With Resident Evil, having slower response time due to HP being in the red (critical) zone made sense; with Monster Hunter, that slow response to get back up even when wearing light armor is pretty ridiculous.

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      The whole slow movement on Mon Hun is the main reason why they had a cult fans there as they made/ force you to consider more before you actually attack there.

      As one misstep can cause your whole life there while for Ragnarok there,(Which i had tried the demo) does not provide that danger and strategy thinking there.

      If not why does before hunting on Mon Hun, many people alwasy prepare traps one and another?

    • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

      Not really, I think games like Hunting titles or even the precursor of them all, Diablo, are best suited to the handheld format. It’s a lot more convenient to pick up your handheld and grind a bit for materials / levels then put the handheld back down before resuming work than it is to wait until you are done with your day to sit down and enjoy your game~.

      Monster Hunter is perhaps not as good for this format given the lengthy missions it features, same goes for Phantasy Star Online / Portable. But for the others I find that a handheld console is the best match~.

  • DanijoEX

    To me, how you do it is what matters.

  • ronin4life

    Capcom is following all these guidelines… or at least appears to be so far.
    If these Ragnorok odessy devs also share this philosophy, perhaps others are also realizing what is needed for this genres success here in the west and we will be seeing more of these games in the future…

  • eilegz

    have better gameplay? maybe use shooting mechanics i mean western market like shooters blend it with hunter style of game and there you go, lost planet 2 tried that but it was buggy and have so many technical issues. a gears of wars with open world and epic bosses could work

    • Testsubject909

      That’s already sorta there though… I mean. Just go for the long range weapons….

      • natchu96

        Or play God Eater.

    • Fr33Kingdom

      Lost planet 2 really was something special. I loved the first but i didn’t realize where they got the direction for the 2nd till i played monster hunter. Lost planet 2 very often feels like a scifi monster hunter. And in my opinion, better than monster hunter. I’d love to see lost planet take another direction, sort of follow the path lost planet 2 created but on the vita. I would even love a port of it on vita. 

  • Online play, definitely

  • A game that takes advantage of PSN or Xbox live for online play.  That, or a computer game.

  • Juuu

    As a new fan of the hunting game subgenre, I think a lot about MonHun’s attempts in the West. I can’t help but wonder why Capcom didn’t try bringing Frontier over, the 360/PC MMO-ish MonHun over. It seems like that userbase would’ve been a bit more receptive than the Wii’s. But I digress. I’m not sure WHAT the genre can do now save for…well, make itself more known and have more excellent examples of its gameplay come West. But whatever it is, I hope it catches on soon!

  • Xapth

    Although I personally don’t care for online play, I don’t mind it’s inclusion as long as it doesn’t detract from the single player experience.

    I’m a big fan of local co-op though.

  • konsama

    Know what would help hunting games? Localizing them as fast as you can instead of taking close to a year (if any) to do so.

    • Well 3GHD (3U WiiU) is just coming out in Japan in December. Then coming here like March or sooner so like only 3 months or less…

  • neogeno

    I really believe online play is the best idea. One of the best things about the Hunting Genre is the sense of teamwork and communication that you get (from people you may not even know no less!) when playing online. The Hunting genre shines most during multiplay.

    As someone has said earlier, the US population is far too spread out for ad hoc to function effectively. So most players rely on 3rd party software such as Xlink Kai to play through infrastructure.  But the way these services function just dont provide the server dedication like fully supported infrastructure online games. They are a terror to set up and can be very irritating to sustain. (It sometimes takes longer to set up a hunt rather than to actually PLAY in one.)

    Playstations Ad Hoc Party is pretty dedicated. But not everyone will be willing to purchase a PS3 and not everyone has a wired connection (I dont at least). Perhaps if you present a dedicated online server where they can play and
    communicate effectively, it could gather more attention and sustain an
    audience that wont shelf the game after singleplayer campaign is over.

    I know you asked for suggestions beyond advertising but at the end of it all, I believe advertising the game in a fitting way can make all the difference.


    • PoweredByHentai

      The Vita also has Party Chat so coupling that with Online Multiplayer is a surefire way to go.

  • “Rather, I think it’s best just to build up the series’ reputation and
    create a good rapport with the fans, allowing the genre to grow

    does this mean that there is a possibility that Odyssey could have a sequel? :D i do hope so.

    • xavier axol

      I second that!

    • PoweredByHentai

      Let us demand a sequel!  :D

      • Testsubject909

        I’d like to get my hands on the first game and wholly enjoy that first.

        But yes. Sequel looks good, from what I can see of the game it looks awesome.

        And I’m quite excited for it, despite never really being able to get into Monster Hunter despite it’s individual elements fitting with what should theoretically entertain me quite well…

        • PoweredByHentai

          That would depend entirely on what elements you are referring to.  There are certain things about MH’s gameplay that have really turned me off simply because I no longer have the time to put up with it.  =/

  • I don’t agree with playing it on the big screen part….I preferred monster hunter on my psp and would rather play monster hunter ultimate on 3DS given a choice.even though it lacks online multiplier.These games are huge time sinks and playing it on a big screen would only limit the amount of time that I can spend on them.
    The only games  that I want to play on a big screen are games like COD or Bioshock etc.

    Also I understand that multiplayer is a big component in the games now a days but any one who has played Freedom unite will probably agree that the games are as much fun in single player  as the multiplayer.It might sound strange but I completed every thing in freedom unite in single player without any major frustrations going multiplayer only to help others.

  • Spider-Man

    “Going beyond advertising and releasing more MonHun, what do you think can grow the hunting genre in the West?”

    1) Online mode. Not just ad-hoc alone. 

    2) High res graphics because there’s always a group of critics/fans who whine about wanting better graphics.

    3) Lock on because Westerners need lock on. 

    4) A coherent story.

    5) Good controls and gameplay.

    6) Release it on consoles, because consoles are more popular here.

    7) Have the protagonist as a chain smoking, muscular, bald headed marine with an arsenal of different guns. (Relax, I’m joking about this one.)

    Not trying to generalize or anything, just going by what I’ve seen over the years on various sites and forums. Of course, I don’t care about these things. I’d take Monster Hunter in any form as long as it’s not the spinoff games.

    • Luis Edgar Flores Gutierrez

      When you say “Westerners” you mean the rest of the Western countries or the U.S?

    • kupomogli

       Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is cross play on the 3DS and Wii U.

      • Spider-Man

        I am well aware of that, but that’s just one game. I’m referring to the hunting genre in general.

    •  #1 is one of the main problems, ad-hoc just isn’t that big over here…

      Lock on might not be as mandatory with 2 analog sticks if the camera controls are good.  However the learning curve on MH’s slow combat + no lock on WILL turn most people off over here…

  • PoweredByHentai

    Tight controls that let me recover from my mistakes and not having to micromanage every part of my hunt goes a long way.  What Ragnarok Odyssey has implemented is a huge improvement over Monster Hunter.  Monster Hunter has that heavy, deliberate action but really pales in comparison to what even Demon’s Souls has provided.  With Demon’s Souls, if I screw up, I still have a chance to salvage the situation so that the next screw up would be entirely my fault.  With Monster Hunter, I rarely ever feel like I’m in control of the combat so any screw up is usually fatal thanks to all the stun-locking bullcrap from minions that are smaller than even the Felynes.  That and Monster Hunter’s rather arbitrary “your weapon’s sharpness has decreased, please sharpen it again… while you’re trying to kill a boss monster” aren’t exactly conducive to maintaining my desire to play the game again when I have free time.

    What Ragnarok Odyssey has implemented, in terms of combat mechanics, is something akin to Phantasy Star Online 2’s combat mechanics: fast, fluid, flashy and furious.  I love both PSO2 and RO’s combat system and I think that such combat systems are what is needed to make the game accessible to a wider audience.

    I know that some people have mentioned Lord of Apocalypse on the Vita and PSP so that is something I’ll have to try out soon.

    • xavier axol

      if there’s a game that both implements demon’s souls and phantasy star gameplay mechanics, i would lose it! and it would blew monster hunter out of the water. also once you done with lord of apocalypse, can you then tell me if is worth importing it.

      • PoweredByHentai

        I think Luna said that she/he/it liked Lord of Apocalypse which was what caught my attention.  Prior to that, I had heard of Lord of Apocalypse but hadn’t looked into what it was.

        I think it can be described as Final Fantasy meets Monster Hunter, but with faster combat.

  • Hahaha~ The title initially made me think he was talking about the commonly understood definition of hunting games – ones that employ stealth, patience and accuracy – but of course he’s talking about Monster Hunter-type Action-RGPs. Semantics aside, not really a surprise though; even in the West, there are very few hunting games that are mainstream or notable, even in this current period where 1st-Person Shooter mechanics are a top-selling element.

    To say something relevant to the topic… I’ll just say: “Just try to make a tidy, user-friendly Action-RPG.”. Smooth multiplayer could also help, especially online. I’m still not sure those still would attract people who don’t like the aesthetics or playstyles though, so just improving upon the current formulas for the sake of those who are willing to support the category sounds good too.

  • Allow co-op for story missions. That is the one thing I would have liked in Phantasy Star Portable 2, which is sort of similar to the “Hunting” genre in terms of gameplay.

  • harmonyworld

     I didn’t like the monster hunter series because….the gameplay just seemed slow to me.
    I like fast paced action and fluid moving characters.
    Also I sucked at monster hunter anyway, I died in the demo *facepalm*.
    I did better at Phantsy Star Universe and God Eater Burst.
    Hopefully, this game will bring what monster hunter couldn’t do for me.

    • eilegz

      its more like dated mechanics and gameplay that i dont like MH neither…. in contraste lets say demon soul and dark soul which also have some gameplay designs on dated mechanics but i find it more enjoyable and less random than MH

      • LynxAmali

        You do realize Monster Hunter and Demon’s/Dark Souls are completely different genres, right? DS is a traditional action RPG while MH is a hunting game.

        It’s authentic too! Wearing all that armor while wielding weapons like that would slow you down. I wouldn’t say DS’s mechanics were based on anything. It works for that game. Who’s to say if you were to toss them into another game, they’d work just as well?

        If you don’t like the games, don’t play them. Just don’t try to shoe horn mechanics from completely different games into them.

        My two cents anyway.

      • i’ve heard  this complaint before – i didn’t even know gameplay could be dated i just thought it’s either fun or not fun… like pac-man is pretty damn old but it’s still fun… so please explain what do you mean by dated gameplay…

    • Exkaiser

      The demo of Freedom Unite, I presume? It’s actually a pretty poor introduction for brand-new players. Totally crushed me when I tried it, too. Didn’t get into it until I borrowed a copy of the original PS2 MonHun.

      Me, personally, I couldn’t get into God Eater. Didn’t feel as punchy, on either the player or the monster end. To each his own! If you like fast and fluid combat, though, this should be your cup of tea.

  • HassanJamal

    I really hope this game gets alot of sells in the US. I heard it did great in Japan.

  • kupomogli

    Phantasy Star Online 2 for everybody!

    • Testsubject909

      And YOU get a PSO2, and YOU get a PSO2, and YOU get a PSO2!

  • psycho_bandaid

    Some pvp would be nice. I enjoy a little competition sometimes, not jus co op.

  • 5parrowhawk

    Let me first say that I really love the MonHun series. I dig the way they’ve made the action slower and more thoughtful, rather than requiring god tier reflexes. It’s the kind of game where, when you die, you know what you did wrong and how to fix it.

    But it’s not a perfect series. Some people have mentioned ditching the claw, some people have mentioned bigger screens, some people have mentioned better multiplayer, and all of these things could potentially help it a lot.

    What I think is that Capcom needs to man up and release an entirely new MH Frontier (Frontier 2?). If you look at the Western critical response to Tera (which borrowed/stole a LOT of MH’s combat mechanics), most MMOG reviewers loved the combat to bits. What they didn’t like was the repetitive nature of the metagame.

    Hence I would say that the best thing at this point would be a quasi-MMOG hunting game with more variation in the top-tier (high G rank) content. In the regular MHs, AFAICS your range of available tactics actually gets smaller as you progress. For instance, barrel bombs do a fixed amount of damage, which is awesome against low rank monsters but will hardly scratch a G-rank. Having potential random events during combat (Qurupeco summons are a step in the right direction, although they could have been better implemented) and other elements to shake the fight up, rather than running the same fight a hundred times, would help. Equally, they need to find interesting ways to lengthen the fight rather than rely on the boss having an utterly ludicrous HP bar. For instance, give the bosses more frequent chances to eat/drink, and increase the recovery from eating, but also give the players more ways to interrupt an eating boss.

    Basically, a quasi-MMO hunting game with more tactical fights, a broader range of options for players, and increased variety especially in the high-tier content would break up the repetition that players encounter when they’re e.g. farming for Amatsumagatsuchi gear, while keeping the appeal. The design goal should be that during the process of obtaining a particular gearset (e.g. 8-10 fights with the same monster), no two fights should feel exactly the same, and the player should never spend more than three continuous minutes doing exactly the same thing.

    Oh, one more thing, Capcom had a brilliant idea with the whole amulet system in MH3, in the sense that it theoretically stops the whole “there is only one best set of armour” thing. However, the problem is that people now feel the need to go mining until they have “the ultimate amulet” (lol). Perhaps they could borrow from FB games (don’t shoot me yet) by making it so that players can get a max of e.g. 2 random amulets per day…? (Perhaps crappy amulets can be traded in for something nice that’s not an amulet, such as a monster drop. For instance, combine Semi-Rare Amulet with Common Monster Drop to get Uncommon [Same Monster] Drop.) Anything to get the players back to the fun business of smacking bloody great monsters and away from [excessive] mining/fishing/etc.

  • ddh819

    What are the other “hunting games?” are there enough to call it a genre?

    • Exkaiser

      In addition to Ragnarok and MonHun, there’s God Eater, Lord of Arcana, the upcoming Soul Sacrifice, an MMO called Raiderz, and a few others (I know there’s one that takes place inside an organism and you fight cell-sized monsters, and one for kids where you fight dinosaurs or some such thing).

      • KuroRyuu913

        Dont forget Phantasy Star. 

  • Supporting ddh819, apart from MH not enough games came to NA/West…especially on the big screen. I like this kind of games and I am kinda sad because of their absence. There where a few attempts but the important elements where missing.

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