Monster Hunter Stories Review

Monster Hunter! One of Capcom’s most popular franchises these days. It’s a fan favorite with a die-hard core group of players. Many gamers who aren’t in this core group can find themselves overwhelmed by the vastness of Monster Hunter. There isn’t much in terms of training and orientation in the main Monster Hunter games, unless you have the patience to sit and read tons of little Hunter’s Notes in the menu. I know I sure don’t.

I started playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate a few years ago. The graphics are cool, I love the monsters and the collection aspects of the game. But the actual gameplay I found to be very difficult. In addition, the monsters have different elemental types, of which I knew nothing b/c I didn’t read the Hunter’s Notes. It’s just not a very approachable game, and since everything is based on missions, you don’t have much freedom or storyline. You can’t even necessarily ask friends for help either, as many quests are based on rank. The hardcore players rank up really fast and only the charitable ones will spend their time helping you get up to speed, and even then the noobs tend to simply rely on the higher ranked players and not really learn the game.

At least, that has been my experience. I’ve been WANTING to like Monster Hunter, but I’m just not there in terms of knowledge about the monsters or having the determination to rank up without an interesting story line to keep me motivated. That is, until I started playing Monster Hunter Stories, which is the latest spin-off from the world of Monster Hunter.

Monster Hunter Stories

Monster Hunter Stories appears on the outside to be a kids game, with it’s cutesy character art style and dialogue. The demo, which I haven’t played, is apparently just a play through of the first few minutes of the game. I think this was a mistake on Capcom’s part, because you don’t really get a feel for what you can do in this game until you have unlocked some of the cooler features. Many of the die-hard MH community have scoffed at this game due to the demo, which is sad.

One main difference between Monster Hunter Stories and the main Monster Hunter franchise is the storyline. There are Story Quests and Sub-Quests, with markers pointing to where you need to go on the vast world map. Why markers? Because MHS is an open world game. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want (once you have unlocked that area in the storyline). Feel like just slaying a bunch of docile Slagtoth and collecting herbs? You do you, boo!

Another major difference is the complete overhaul of the battle system. First of all, you befriend monsters and they will help you to battle against other monsters. You fight in a turn based system that uses a rock-paper-scissor mechanic for the normal attacks. But there’s more to it than the game of chance. Your character gets special Rider skills and attacks, based on your weapon. You can control your monster’s moves, which include awesome special attacks. As you and your monster battle cooperatively, you raise your “kinship” meter, which unlocks killer attacks when filled!

On top of the new battle mechanics, you can also customize your monsters, just like in Pokemon. By collecting eggs and hatching tons of monsters, you can transfer a move from one monster to another. Suddenly you can have a Lagombi, who is a giant icy rabbit who prefers frozen tundras, that now can shoot fireballs at enemy monsters. I would say that if you like Pokemon but think the battles are little too tame, give Monster Hunter Stories a shot. You can also battle your monsters in a tournament setting in-game, or via local wireless and online battles. With so many modes of battle, you will find yourself making different sets of monster teams with different strengths so you can take on any opponent! (Sounds a lot like Pokemon, right?)

I will add that on a personal level, I think that Monster Hunter Stories is fantastic for gamers like me who aren’t familiar with all of the elemental types, especially when it comes to monsters from older MH games. This game is helping me to learn which monsters are weak to the different elements in a more natural way than constantly checking Hunter’s Notes.

For the Monster Hunter purists, I will add that you still have all of the collection aspects of the main games in MHS. You still need to collect endless monster materials to forge new weapons, armor and upgrades. All of your favorite monster armor is available in this game. And you will still need to find all the hidden Poogies, of course!

One final thing I really like about MHS is the storyline itself. The Hunters (basically the characters from the main game) don’t like or trust the Riders (your character and other people who develop kinship with monsters) and you face discrimination and adversity at the beginning. One of your friends suffers tragedy and you watch as he transforms into a darker version of himself. I think it’s very interesting subject matter for a “kids game.” Just saying. The Felynes get to play a much larger role in the story as well, which is pretty fun!

I definitely recommend this game, especially if you are new to Monster Hunter. It’s much more approachable than the main series. Keep an open mind and give these Riders a chance!

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Metroid: Samus Returns Event

Samus is back, baby!

Got my Samus t-shirt ready to go!

Got my Samus t-shirt ready to go!

Nintendo fans have been begging for YEARS for another Metroid game, and now the time is finally here! Metroid: Samus Returns has been reimagined for the 3DS with beautiful new graphics and controls. To celebrate the big day, there was a fun event held at the Nintendo NY store in New York City. I stopped by to check out the event! Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for it’s entirety so I missed the cosplay contest, but it was still pretty cool!

The event was held in the big upstairs area, and they had a table set out with lots of goodies for everyone in attendance!

Metroid Swag

Metroid Swag

For those keeping score, we have vinyl Metroid: Samus Returns posters, Metroid head cookies (arranged in the shape of an M!) as well as regular posters for the game. Not bad for freebies!

As guests walked into the event space, the next thing you notice is the huge Metroid backdrop with Samus Aran featured in a classic pose.

Who can resist a photo op? Not me.

Who can resist a photo op? Not me.

Of course I had to get a pic with my favorite Bounty Hunter! #girlcrush

The next feature of the event was the Metroid fan art that had been submitted in advance. It was on full display at the event and the artwork was really fantastic!

Metroid Fan Art

More Metroid Fanart

I wish I had skills like these artists! The event continued on from there, but didn’t make for great photos. There was a mass of people gathered around to play some Name That Tune with Metroid theme music. The Nintendo staff gave away prizes to those who answered correctly!

Sadly, I did not cosplay at this event. I was coming straight from work, so my red Metroid t-shirt was all I could muster. Thankfully, another Zero Suit Samus cosplayer came out to the event, and my friend Peter got a photo with her, so I’ll share it. She looks great – I just wish she had worn a wig! Brunette Samus is pretty cool though.

Peter with Samus Cosplayer!

All in all, it was a great event! I had a lot of fun, and it’s so awesome to see so many people excited for a new Metroid game. I’ve only played it briefly so far, and it’s really hard – just like the original! The new controls take some getting used to, but with some dedication I’ll get there.

It’s definitely nice to see some more great 3DS games coming out, because I really love playing 3DS on the go. It’s a great way for me to pass the time on my commute to work. I know the Nintendo Switch is portable too, but it’s still big and clunky to carry around. Plus it’s more expensive than the 3DS, should something horrible happen and replacement is needed… lol!

In closing, I love going to Nintendo NY events. They are always great! The cookie definitely had way too much fondant but I appreciate the effort and free food. Here’s a picture of my haul, including the event swag, the game, Metroid amiibos and my bonus Metroid keychain! Booyah!

My Metroid Goodies!

My Metroid Goodies!

First Impressions: ACHHD (JP)

When I learned that Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer was coming out on 6/30 in Japan, I decided that it was finally time to put myself out of my misery. And by that, I mean I finally broke down and bought a Japanese New 3DS system. What do those two things have to do with each other? For those who don’t know, the latest AC game – which I will be calling “ACHHD” for short from now on – utilizes a new Amiibo card peripheral that can only be scanned using NFC technology. That means I could either wait for Play-Asia to ship me the game with the Amiibo NFC-scanning adapter peripheral, or I could buy a Japanese New 3DS (which I call “JP N3DS”) and finally enjoy some faceplates, along with downloading the game to my SD card. I tend to prefer the digital copies of games, and I have been DYING to get my hands on some faceplates. The decision was made, and the order was placed. I opted for the simplistic monochrome K.K. Slider (aka Totakeke) faceplates because I like the matching K.K. Slider theme for the Home Menu. And you know, cuz I have a K.K. Slider plush and he is one of my favorite characters in the game. Chances are that I will be getting more faceplates in the future, but this is a start!

So, after 12pm on 7/29 I was able to start playing the game, thanks to Japan being like 12 hours ahead of the east coast! I’m still waiting for the Amiibo cards to arrive, but they should be here early this week. That didn’t stop me from diving right in and starting the game! Keep in mind that I still don’t speak Japanese and I’m basically playing the game without having a clue what’s going on. But I’m getting by!

PLEASE BE ADVISED – MAJOR ACHHD SPOILERS FROM HERE ON!!

Mayor Neko checking out the break room at her new office.

ACHHD has a totally different format than a regular AC game. You don’t play in “real time” and you don’t have to have an interview with Rover to determine the look of your character. Naturally, I designed my character to be an extension of Mayor Neko of my JP ACNL game. Now that Wasabi is well established, Mayor Neko decided it’s time for a sabbatical of sorts, to try her hand at interior design and get a fresh perspective. She was impressed with the facilities available at her new Happy Home office, complete with a changing room, a sewing machine (that she couldn’t use yet), a salon (also not yet unlocked at the start of the game) and a cute little New 3DS that opens up when you select it. Side bar: The fact that the game designers decided to put this particular New 3DS XL limited edition console in the game makes me feel even more certain that this special edition will be released globally. I mean, why would they put that in the game if it wasn’t going to be for sale in every region?? Fingers crossed that this LE makes it to the states!!

Once Mayor Neko was in her work uniform and ready to start work, she was first tasked with what I can only assume was a practice design. I say this because there was no client involved, it was just to learn how to move furniture and whatnot. For those who are curious, the game is mainly controlled by the stylus, as it allows for furniture to be moved around and rotated easily. You can also make tweaks the old fashioned way, by pushing and pulling using your character, but I find that it’s much faster and more convenient to use the stylus. I’m officially spoiled!! lol

A lovely practice room!

Anyway, the practice theme was quite clearly the Lovely theme. I did the best that I could, and I couldn’t help but feel that I wasn’t provided with the full set. I’m sure the rest will unlock as I progress in the game. How did my design come out? I was super excited that they gave me a painting to use right away, so I made that the featured item of the room!

After that, I was able to work with my first customer! Goldie the adorable doggy was eager to have her new home set up. Now, this is when their requests get a little iffy for me. Obviously, I have no idea what the townies are requesting. Luckily, each design project has requirements such as a chair or a desk that you MUST include, and those tend to be of a certain theme. New townie customers will also unlock new furniture items, so I also check the “New” tab to get an idea of what the theme might be. So far I haven’t received any complaints so I guess I’m doing a pretty good job!

My first happy customer!

Goldie had what I can only assume is a bookworm type of theme. She required a giant bookcase and stacks of books be included in her house. I came up with a design that kind of caters more to an “older” character. What do you guys think? You can’t see it in the photo, but in her house I also included an egg fryer that sizzles the entire time. I think it adds a little something extra. ūüėõ

After every design project is finished, there’s a cute cut-scene where you can take photos and watch the townie enjoying their new digs. It’s super cute. Then you are whisked back to the office (you get a car in this game btw!) and have to “fill out paperwork” which is saving the game. You can only work on one design project per day. However, if you don’t want to save immediately, you can still wander around town and talk to townies before you go in and save and start the next day. What I ended up doing was going back upstairs to the break room and seeing if I could change my clothes, since I had noticed that some clothes had shown up in the New tab when I was working on Goldie’s house.

Mayor Neko’s professional work attire.

You can’t change your shirt, I guess that’s the uniform requirement of the job. But you can change your skirt/pants, shoes, socks, hat and accessories! Mayor Neko thought it might be funny to try a wacky outfit. Let’s see if the customers take her seriously.

OK Readers – I know I’m excited about this game and I could blog about it all day. But should I not write all the details of every single townie customer? Should I stick to highlights? Let me know, otherwise I’m just gonna write about everything!! ūüėõ

Just to sum it up, I think everyone who enjoys Animal Crossing would like this game. I don’t want to say it’s AC-Lite, but it does kinda have all of the home decor design fun without the stress of saving up money, collecting items and then ordering from the catalog. However, it doesn’t fully satisfy your AC needs if you enjoy other things like bug catching, fishing, holidays, etc. because it doesn’t work in real time. So Happy Home Designer is certainly not a REPLACEMENT for the regular Animal Crossing game, but its a fun re-imagining of the same idea. I hope everyone will pick it up when it is released in the west this fall! ūüôā

More to come!!!

3 Random Games I’m Playing Right Now

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve posted about video games. My bad. It’s mostly because I’m playing three games right now that are taking up a lot of my time! I still check in with my regular games like ACNL and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, but there’s three games that are really taking over my life right now.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

I’m a noob to the Monster Hunter series. People have tried to get me into the earlier titles in the series, but I never took the time to try it out. I’d played demos and always thought the controls were too confusing. However, I happen to have the New 3DS XL system and it incorporates the new c-stick camera controls REALLY well. So I decided to pick up the game… I mean, everyone’s playing it! That means it must be good right??

capcom-reveals-monster-hunter-4-ultimate-box-art-a_rsky-1411030846119

At first I felt kinda bad about hunting these monsters. Especially in the very beginning, they have you slaying these really docile and gentle monsters and I had guilty feelings about it. But once you really get into the action, it’s like, “HEY monster – you’re trying to kill me! Let me kill you first!” and I got over the hunter’s remorse. Now I’m really getting the swing of things, and I can’t believe I didn’t start¬†playing this game sooner. I love games that are content heavy and have a strong multi-player aspect. MH4U incorporates both of these things with extensive quest lists that you can play online with friends, aside from the regular storyline missions. On top of that, you can forge new armor and weapons to upgrade your skills and take on bigger foes. And did I mention that you collect KITTIES?? There are these helpers that you can enlist called Palicoes, and they are all cat-like creatures that do amazing support work during battles. Some add more attack power, others replenish health, some can throw bombs, others focus on defense… you can customize your Palico team to suit your style. I love the Palicoes because they add this element of cuteness to an otherwise gory and somewhat violent game. It’s a LOT of fun and I am down to hunt with friends anytime! Evenings are best for me to get on WIFI. ūüôā

Story of Seasons

Am I the only one who still wants to call this game Harvest Moon? I can’t get the new title to stick in my brain. Anyway, now that Natsume has parted ways with Marvelous and XSEED, I have to call this game Story of Seasons. Cuz Natsume owns the rights to “Harvest Moon” in America and that’s how it goes sometimes. (BTW, don’t try the new Harvest Moon: Lost Valley game unless you’re into Minecraft, because that’s basically what Natsume has done with the franchise here in the US. It’s not pretty.)

Story of Seasons brings us the familiar art style and gameplay features we have grown to know and love in the HM series. I think this is the best farming game available on 3DS, and that’s saying a lot because I really loved “Tale of Two Towns.” I had some issues with “A New Beginning” due to too much customization. I don’t want to worry about decorating the entire damn town, my homestead is enough thanks! Story of Seasons tones down the customizing to a more feasible amount. You can still craft new objects for your farm and place them wherever you want (the same applies to furniture in your house btw!) but you’re limited to your own fields. However, that doesn’t mean you are stuck with just one field area. A cool new feature of Story of Seasons allows you to compete with other farmers in town for some extra fields that are specifically set up for certain types of crops. For example, my character is renting the Root Crops field area in addition to my main farmland. This allows me to free up some space on my homestead for grains and tall crops, and plant all of my root crops in this satellite field instead. But it’s not that simple, you have to defend your rented fields every season by performing well in contests or shipping lots of goods. Yep that’s right, farming just got a lot more competitive!

I haven’t gotten too far in my game yet, only up to early Summer Year 1, but I’m raising cows, a horse and a chicken (with another chick on the way! lol) along with my crops. You get a lot of space on your farm, and you can build multiple barns, chicken coops and other facilities on the homestead. Basically, if you are unable to rent one of the special public fields, you can still grow all types of crops on your own farm, so no worries! Another great feature is the farming itself. Now you use your hoe to plow a plot that grows up to 9 crops at one time. No more watering each individual crop. Now you just water a plot and all of the crops are saturated. Just makes everything that much easier and less time consuming. Leaves you more time to socialize and find a sweetheart in town! I’m still working on that part… lol

Pokemon Rumble World

This game has only been out for a day and I’m already obsessed with it. This is the Pokemon Company’s latest “freemium” game, meaning you pay nothing to download it, but there are a lot of features and items that you can only get if you pay for premium in-game currency. Since the game just came out, there is a sale for the premium currency so I snagged that. It’s not very expensive either.

I’ve been playing the Rumble series since it first came out on the Wii. I love it! I enjoy the action/adventure gameplay, it’s a nice change from the RPG format of the regular Pokemon games. Plus you can take photos while you play. And its a simple enough game that you can pick it up easily and play a few rounds. As far as the actual gameplay goes, it’s basically the same as it always had been. You press A for one move and B for another (if you have two moves registered) and beat up other Toy Pokemon dungeon-crawl style. A lot of the music is the same too, I have to add.

But here’s what’s new in Pokemon Rumble World:

  • Mii’s! You import your Mii, who can be customized with new outfits. Other Mii’s will start showing up too via StreetPass and SpotPass, who will help you in the game! Some will let you visit areas for a discounted price, others will give you premium currency if you save them from Toy Pokemon, and more.
  • Hot Air Balloons. In previous games in this series, you had areas to navigate, and you selected the one that you wanted to battle. Now you have to ride Hot Air Balloons, which have to be “refilled” afterwards. This is the main time when the “freemium” aspect comes into play. If you want to challenge the same area twice, you’ll need to spend premium currency. Or wait for a set amount of time, which is indicated in the selection screen. This wait time can be over an hour. You also need to spend premium currency to purchase new Hot Air Balloons that will take you to other areas.
  • Premium Currency. Let me explain this a little bit more. I’m making it sound evil. You can actually EARN premium currency easily throughout the game. There are certain (once a day) areas¬†where¬†you can earn premium currency, and you get even more for free if you get a lot of StreetPasses and interact with friends. It seems to me that the game provides enough premium currency for free to get you through the main parts of the game without paying anything. But if you’re impatient or want to wear a specific premium shirt design, that may cost you out of pocket. It’s up to you if you want to spend money!

There are other new features too, but I won’t spoil everything. This game is FREE to download from the eShop right now, so definitely check it out and see for yourself! My only criticism of Rumble World is the lack of a mini map. The top screen gives you arrows that indicate where the Toy Pokemon are, but I preferred seeing them on a map instead. It’s not a huge deal, just one little thing that I miss about the older games in the series.

Well, as you can imagine, I’ve certainly got my hands full here! All three of these games are really fun and it’s always a struggle to decide which game to play. Rumble World is best for short spurts, since there’s that whole time limit aspect. Monster Hunter can be very intense and time consuming, so it’s ideal to play at home when I have free time. Story of Seasons is low key, so I enjoy playing it when I need to relax, or after an intense hunt in MH4U. They compliment each other nicely.

Soo…. what games have YOU been playing??