After more than a little clamor for a Monster Hunter port for Nintendo Switch, fans of the series–albeit not necessarily the one that everyone wanted. Even still, Monter Hunter Generations and the previously Japanese-exclusive expanded version, Monster Hunter XX, are fairly underappreciated in the Western audiences, considering all the fanfare that Monster Hunter: World received by new and loyal fans alike. So how does the Nintendo Switch’s Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate fare in 2018?
The quick answer is “pretty well, so long as you can overlook technical quirks.”
Now, let me get out of the gate noting that I may be a tad spoiled on the Monster Hunter experience. Despite trying my hand on a few other games in the series’ past, the first one that truly resonated with me was Monster Hunter: World on PS4. As we noted in our review of the game, World marked an exceptional step-up in the franchise bringing never-before-seen polish and popularity to a very niche genre.
Meanwhile, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is instead more of a traditional core Monster Hunter game, with all the quirks and difficulty that comes along with it. To all you recently-added fans of the series, Generations Ultimate will undoubtedly act as a litmus test of if you are a bigger fan of the series as a whole or the new changes implemented in World.
To start with the most surface-level observation, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is very apparently a scaled-back version of the series–both technically and visually. This is to be expected, given the game is a Nintendo 3DS port being up-resed to the Nintendo Switch, hardly a remake or a remaster so much as a definitive edition. Environments, monsters, and characters look blocky in similar ways that handheld games do, and that isn’t to say it’s terrible. It just may be a jarring experience when playing on the TV when comparing to comparable Nintendo Switch RPG’s like Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Aside from the step back graphically, framerate and loading times never seem to come out consistently one way or the other. Between screens, I will often be waiting anyway from 15 seconds to a minute depending on how large the map or detailed the environment is. Similarly, while the game is relatively smooth, anyone coming off a recent binge of Monster Hunter: World will likely feel disappointed by the overall performance on the Nintendo Switch. The game runs better than the original Nintendo 3DS versions of the title, but that isn’t to say that it is up to par with series or console standards.
My last major criticism–which doesn’t come from a point of comparison with Monster Hunter: World–is that Generations Ultimate often feels a little too similar to the Nintendo 3DS version for its own good. As I mentioned earlier, the game manages to feel like both the definitive edition and the port, and nowhere is that more evident than the sometimes tank-like control scheme. Nintendo 3DS (especially the oldest iterations of the handheld console) lacked some integral components within their button layout. While Nintendo Switch has some extra room to stretch out, especially using the Switch Pro Controller, I often ended up getting the feeling I was playing a Nintendo 3DS control scheme.
Outside of the negatives, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is the same old superb gameplay loop that fans of the genre have gotten used to. You are going to spend much of your time honing on your favorite build, devising the best strategies, and farming for some crafting materials to keep fueling the action. If you’ve been a fan of the franchise in the past, then you are going to resonate with this game–especially with Capcom’s inclusion of some extra features.
First and foremost, we see the inclusion of G-Rank missions; these objectives are substantially more difficult than even the hard versions of missions, with the monsters having increased health and a more focused and aggressive AI. Aside from bragging rights, toppling these creatures will net you top-tier materials for the best equipment of the game. While replayability has always been high in Monster Hunter games, the inclusion of G-Rank missions helps cement everything.
On top of that, the monster roster is gigantic–quite literally the largest in the series. As a frame of reference, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate has over 280% of the large monsters that World had. Sure, a lot of these are variants, but it’s hard to complain about any type of variety in-game.
Last but not least, those who have played Monster Hunter Generations on Nintendo 3DS will get some previously Japanese-exclusive content that will make the game worth re-visiting for hardcore fans. Notably, two new styles (Valor Style and Alchemy Style) are available for use, but do trend towards more advanced game techniques. You can even enter Prowler Mode and play as one of the game’s iconic Felynes (along with unlimited stamina, multiple faints, and more benefits). Yeah, it’s a gimmick, but it’s a fun gimmick.
And yes, that also includes the The Legend of Zelda crossover items. Don’t get me wrong–it’s fun playing nearly any game as Link, or a Link-like copy. But (as made obvious by its includion in the Japanese version), it is more of a bonus to those who are already fans of the game, and less of a reason to buy it on its own.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a must buy for established fans looking for their Nintendo Switch port, but is a far cry from the series’ recent peak. Those who have tried the game and couldn’t catch the bug likely won’t be swayed by this version. Instead, people who have dived in and fallen in love with the franchise within the year now have a definitive way to play one of the greatest handheld iterations that Monster Hunter has seen.