Review: Monster Hunter Stories Feels Even More Like an Anime
Image via Capcom

Review: Monster Hunter Stories Feels Even More Like an Anime

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is an amazing game. So much so that it might be people’s first exposure to the spin-off series! Capcom’s attempting to rectify that while also bringing up its start with a Monster Hunter Stories remaster that is a definitive edition with everything anyone worldwide could want. While elements of it mean it can feel better suited for a younger audience and it isn’t as rich as the original title, the adjustments and additions make it feel even more like an anime romp. (Though watching the Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On anime based on it on Crunchyroll is still an option too!)

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In a world filled with people who hunt monsters, you and your childhood friends Cheval and Lilia grew up in the blissful Hakum Village seeing them as Monstie friends. The dream was to become Riders, those who fought alongside Monsties like partners for the good of your village. The three of you even managed to befriend a newly-hatched Rathalos before becoming Riders! However, after the Black Blight caused a Nargacuga to become corrupted and go on a rampage at the village, killing Cheval’s mom and causing the Rathalos to disappear in the process, everything changed. Years later, Lilia’s following her own path, Cheval’s struck out on a course of revenge, and you’re left to become a Rider, face the Black Blight, and maybe save the world in the process. 

Image via Capcom

Clearly, it’s the sort of tale you’d find in any anime or manga geared toward kids searching for an action-packed coming of age story of friendship and redemption!

There’s a set sort of gameplay loop for each area in Monster Hunter Stories. You’ll roam around fairly contained locations, facing monsters while fighting alongside ones you’ve tamed. Resources can be gathered, either for crafting or quests. Monster Dens can be explored to get eggs for fresh Monstie allies. As you complete major quests with your most appropriate Monsties, you’ll get opportunities to explore more, deal with the Black Blight contagion, and befriend more creatures. 

Battles are all turn-based, with the player avatar and one monster out at all times. The attack type triangle means using power, speed, and technique moves in a rock-paper-scissor fashion to best opponents. Ones that retreat may lead you to a den with their eggs. You might also break off parts, based on the fight. Fights against other Riders means your Monstie only attacks the other human, while you attack their monster, all until one of the two sides’ three hearts drops to zero first. It’s all a very anime, or even anime RPG, approach. 

Part of the increased anime feel stems from Monster Hunter Stories being fully voiced. I went with the English voice acting, as it was shockingly solid. It really adds to the immersion and makes the whole experience feel more fleshed out. The game always had this vibrant essence with a plotline that wouldn’t be out of place in Shonen Jump, so now it just feels more appropriate and in line with those tales. 

This also pairs well with the crisper visuals. While some of the textures for environments don’t feel like they held up as well with the update, the character and monster models in Monster Hunter Stories look so vivid. They feel a bit more alive, with the occasional exaggerated features really adding to the personalities of every person and creature you encounter. 

The inclusion of Museum Mode in the Monster Hunter Stories remaster adds to it as well. It’s like looking through an art book for your favorite anime, especially in the characters and monsters sections. Both of them really show how certain features of existing characters were adjusted to make them fit into this world. Likewise, you can better see the consistency across the designs for different people to make certain characteristic pop, affiliations evident, and natures come through in expressions. 

It’s also great to see how Monster Hunter Stories really acts as a director’s cut of sorts in the remaster. This is because this version included some of the past Japanese updates that weren’t present worldwide. Extra monsters are great, and I was really happy about Kushala Daora. The Tower of Illusion does seem to help with replay too. And yes, in the Switch version the original Japanese 3DS amiibo still work. 

However, the downside to the Monster Hunter Stories remaster is that it is coming after the stellar sequel. The story felt as thought it was stronger and had more widespread appeal, andthis original outing does still feel like it skews toward a much younger audience. Especially with the constant handholding throughout the entire first region in the game. Enemy encounters still don’t feel as satisfying, and messing with genes via Stimulants isn’t as fun or prevalent as in the sequel. Locations also feel smaller. There is definite value in playing the first game! We can see the foundation that was forged here and it’s novel for its cartoonish nature. I’d just recommend taking some breathing room and not going from the sequel to the original, or you may feel disappointed.

Monster Hunter Stories remains a vibrant anime romp through a world that fuses Monster Hunter elements with Pokemon-esque creature collection and training. It can feel a bit dated compared to the sequel, and the direction may make it more welcome to younger gamers. However, it’s a colorful, entertaining romp and this iteration feels like the definitive release. 

The Monster Hunter Stories remaster is available on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC. Other versions of the game can be found on the 3DS and iOS devices via Apple Arcade.

Monster Hunter Stories

Monster Hunter Stories is an RPG that takes the world of Monster Hunter and expands upon it in new and exciting ways! No longer are you hunting monsters, but raising them! In this deep story featuring heroes known as Monster Riders, you will live alongside monsters and form lifelong bonds with them. Switch version reviewed. Review copy provided by company for testing purposes.

Monster Hunter Stories remains a vibrant anime romp through a world that fuses Monster Hunter elements with Pokemon-esque creature collection and training.

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Image of Jenni Lada
Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.