It’s a little too late for a playtest since the game has been out for months now, but I did want to write briefly about Monster Hunter Tri (which has been taking up every minute of game time I can spare recently) and a few other thoughts.
The game itself is fantastic of course. It’s incredibly fun, it looks great, and while I haven’t had the time to dive into the online multiplayer yet, the singleplayer game alone is very, very addicting. What I do want to touch upon in particular, however, is the localization, which is top-notch.
We’re all used to heaping praise upon companies like Xseed and Atlus for their quality localizations, but I do feel Capcom’s are just as fantastic and that people don’t always give them enough credit for it, whether they’re done inhouse or outsourced.
I notice a lot of people like to call Resident Evil’s writing — referring largely to 4 — cheesy or lame or even outright bad. As if, somehow, there’s supposed to some way to magically add a Shakesperean touch to a game about headshotting zombies and saving the president’s daughter while a sexy Chinese double-agent and a cult of loony Spaniards try to get in your way. I don’t get it. RE4’s script fits the feel of the overall game, which, at its heart, aims to be an interactive summer action flick. No one complained about bad writing in, say, Mission Impossible 2.
And RE4, whether you want to admit it or not, has a great voice cast. While Leon and Ada are both great by themselves, I’m still very impressed by Ramon Salazar’s voice every time I play the game. That high-pitched, gleefully evil cackle is the kind of thing we haven’t seen since the old Hanna-Barbara days. Overall, the game’s dialogue never detracts from the experience. In fact, I quite like playing as Leon because he’s so cocky and likable. The writing makes all the difference.
The same goes for Monster Hunter Tri. However, Monster Hunter is, in my opinion, a significantly harder game to localize, not only because it has to rely solely on text to convey the “feel” of the game, but also because the feel of the game is so very unique. Tri is my first time with the series, so there was a time, before the game’s release, when I wasn’t sure how I would react to Monster Hunter’s rampant slaying of animals, prehistoric and imaginary or not. What I didn’t know at the time was that Capcom make every effort to not make the game feel like a ruthless hunting simulator, not just by adding fantasy elements to the experience, but also through the script.
Moga Village, despite being under siege from a variety of giant, fire-breathing dragons or electrically-charged sea monsters, is one of the most lighthearted RPG towns you’ll come across. The villagers are hardworking and enthusiastic, and everyone’s willing to lend each other a helping hand. The entire place is overrun by eccentric merchants and traders, village council members, plucky kids, women that make horrid (but awesome) puns, and a group of cowardly, but sincere Felynes that help out at the farm and at your own humble abode. Moga has it all, and it’s all very bright and positive.
There’s a very conscious effort to never let the player feel like they’re partaking in mindless violence. Monster Hunter’s world may be set up like an eco-system, sure, but the experience doesn’t come down solely to “survival of the fittest.” At times, it can feel like the Spy vs. Spy comic strips from MAD magazine. The dinos do something idiotic like trample all over your farm and ruin the harvest, and the farmer, in turn, promptly puts out a guild request for someone to teach those darned Jaggis a lesson because they just won’t keep away.
This is where the cocky but loveable Guild Sweetheart comes in. She’s the one that you go to for your assignments and is no doubt the object of many a hunter’s affections. While she could just egg you on to go out there and slaughter every last Wyvern you come across, she doesn’t. Nor does she molly-coddle you because you’re new to the whole “hunting sea-dragons” thing. Instead, she’ll pass obnoxious — but hilarious — comments, teasing you about the possibility of ending up as a Great Jaggi’s breakfast. Frequently, at that.
Other times, she’ll take on quests on your behalf in exchange for a few sacks of junk food…none of which will actually be spared from her never-ending hunger pangs by the time you complete your quest. She’s quite adorable, and I’m sure, somewhere out there, is someone that has her at the top of his “waifu” list.
And she isn’t alone. Your other sidekick in your quest to end up in a Rathian’s digestive tract is a funny little chap named Cha-Cha. I couldn’t possibly even begin to explain why he’s funny, so I’ll point you to the video below.
That should give you a pretty good idea of how Monster Hunter approaches its unique premise. Another village favourite is the eccentric sailing merchant who likes to drop random Japanese phrases like “De wa!” and “Sokonakucha!” (and more…much more…) into his mangled attempts at English. And before you go off thinking he’s just some sort of comic relief, this is the same guy that introduces Moga’s weaponsmith to fascinations like the Switch Axe.
Quest descriptions tend to be amusing when possible, too. One villager request, in particular, that I liked involved obtaining a giant pile of Aptonoth poop. That one read something to the effect of, “The Aptonoths grow so big…so does this!”
I remember reading in an Iwata Asks segment we covered, about how the development team tries to approach Monster Hunter as some sort of amusement park. I didn’t quite understand how that worked until I got to play the game for myself, and I’m very surprised by just how crucial the solid writing and localization are to the experience. I only hope it managed to stay consistent in its quality across all the other languages Capcom provided for Europe.