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HUMAIAR Chapter 1Darkness is the first thing that greeted me. What happened beforehand, never came to my mind. I opened my eyes upon awakening, which came with a sort of groggy feeling. As my vision and head cleared, I attempted to rub my head, only to see that all four of my limbs were being held in place by metal bindings. As a matter of fact, I was seemingly strapped to a some sort of metal table. I could not see what the table looked like as my vision appeared to be pointed to a white ceiling. There really wasn't anything about the ceiling that made it stand out. It was seemingly just a plain old white ceiling with a flat, smooth texture.
As I was laying there, I attempted to contemplate the situation I was in. I was trying to remember how I got here, but I had nothing. In fact, I couldn't remember anything prior to this point, including my identity. Despite this, I managed to avoid panicking and keep my composure to the current situation at hand.
As I continued to ponder about where I was, the tab
First off, Game Theory has posited the idea that, in the future, all games may be judged by us, the gamers, in a court of law. If a blog - yes, a blog written by someone who may or may not just be venting an opinion - calls a game a "clone," that can be used to take legal action. If the legal department ever looked more into mechanics, Sonic the Hedgehog could be considered a clone of Mario games owing to them both being 2-D platformers and otherwise having a lot in common. What Game Theory didn’t get into was that calling something a clone or not is culturally-biased.
A while back, Gaijin Goombah posted a video about Kantai Collection and another ship-based moe game, Victory Belles. In that video, he and a Japanese friend detailed that Japan does not see these two games as clones of each other at all - they’re just entries in the fabulous history of machine-based ladies. Japan cares less about who did something first and more about people tossing their gloves into the arena.
That is certainly not the case in America.
America is the land of the lawsuit. We are anally protective of “original ideas.” Our copyright laws are part of the reason that the internet sucks. Back in the Cold War era, we were determined to be the first ones on the moon. We are super-proud that the car and airplane were both invented in the U.S. of A. Gee, you’d think our nation has some sort of hidden inferiority complex, like that one guy who must say “first!” on every new YouTube video.
I’m going to go back to my previous headbutt for a few examples of this mindset in action.
Pokemon spearheaded the monster-catching genre for much of the world. Literally everything with kids and monsters after that has been seen as a rip-off. Digimon? Pff, clone! Monster Rancher? Yeah, that’s not Pokemon at all. Fossil Fighters? Oh, that’s just Pokemon with dinosaurs. Yo-Kai Watch? Oh, hey, Pokemon clones are back!
Of course, if you read my whole shpiel on that, you know that Pokemon and YKW are lemons and oranges to each other. Yes, they are both citrus fruits. They both have vitamin C. Legally, people are trying to claim the idea of “citrus fruit” and hold sole rights to it. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly?
Another example involves two app games that I play: Puzzle & Dragons and Tower of Saviors. Both of these games involve catching monsters, creating themed teams, and using a match-3 puzzle game to issue commands in a turn-based setting. Anyone who had played both of these games would instantly call one a clone of the other.
These games use a system that is 99% similar, and yet they have found ways to keep themselves separate. I can safely say that TOS takes the social functions to a whole new level, while PAD took years to introduce actual multiplayer. The two are also distinct aesthetically: PAD has a kid-friendly, debatably creepy, colorful style, whereas TOS is somewhere between manga and Warcraft art. (That said, I did eventually delete TOS.)
I’ll put it in another way: Depending on how far up one’s ass we want to get about copyrights, DC could theoretically sue Marvel many times over. Their claim to originating super-heroes and comic books is that legitimate. There are several characters that Marvel all but directly ripped off from them. Yet, these two borrow ideas from each other all the time, with little to no action taken. Comic books are one of the few things that Americans rarely consider “cloned,” even if all of the same evidence is there.
Video games should be treated the same way. I am fine with Mario and Sonic both existing. I somewhat specialize in monster-catching games, and can tell you that Fossil Fighters has a million mechanical differences when compared to Pokemon. I can like Monster Hunter and Toukiden for different reasons, even though they’re mechanically similar.
So, in the end, who wins?
Winner: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, assuming you either have or are willing to buy a 3DS. If not, hey, Toukiden is available for PS4, XBox, and even the PC. Do not, under any circumstances, play MHGen as your first MH. MHWorld seems good, but I actually wouldn't know - mom still won't let me get a console.
Come take a walk down memory lane with me.
Roughly a decade ago, I was into a MMORPG called Ragnarok Online. Its style consisted of pixel art sprites on a 3D background. There were a ton of different worlds, lots of unique monsters, and I kinda liked what Myung-Jin Lee had going with the manhwa (which...had little to nothing to do with the MMO). Although I originally loved the Hunter class, Assassins became my fave in the end, and I was always trying to catch all the tameable monsters. I played two different pirate servers of the thing, and that was really all I could handle. Pokemon Diamond ate me after that (reminder: I HATED Gen IV, so this is really telling of how much I disliked MMO’s overall). It was my first and likely last true MMO experience. I’m not exactly keen to try that particular brand of digital crack again.
It occurs to me that multiplayer-heavy video games like Monster Hunter, Toukiden, Smash Bros., and Pokemon are at a sort of crossroads between traditional, single-player video games and MMO’s. I can play MH on the train, but I can also chat with my ultra-cool friend in Singapore and coordinate a Teostra hunt - something that I’d never do well at on my own. That’s about the degree of multiplayer I’m comfortable with.
The winning formula seems to boil down to “let people pass story mode, then open things up to online play.” Fair enough.
Monster Hunter has an amazing amount of people playing it. Part of the reason it was so big in Japan was because of its local play mixed with Japan’s population density. You could start playing Monster Hunter on a crowded train and probably find someone willing to help you take down a Nargacuga. This was all without portable wi-fi and was done entirely through local area networks.
I’ve said before that Japan loves itself some LAN. It certainly does, and trust me, it’s amazing to meet others who share your interests in real life. Now, take this extant player base and move it online as well.
The numbers of people giving MH a chance exploded with its move onto Nintendo systems. A lot of people already had a 3DS because of Pokemon, Zelda, KIU, or other Nintendo properties. Some had probably heard of it as one of those “big in Japan” things. MH had the power, in the past, to unite people in the same way that Pokemon had and make portable systems fly off the shelves in a similar fashion. I personally question MH leaving portable systems, but given that video games are favoring hybridization, it might not be that bad a move. Toukiden is currently on both PS4 and Vita, so we'll probably see it on whatever Sony concocts to rival the Switch.
Toukiden doesn’t quite have that power...yet. The first Monster Hunter game came out in 2004, so it’s had time to get good. Toukiden was released for the Vita in 2013, largely to fill the void that MH left when it became a Nintendo property. They had a good plan; Toukiden opening sales have always been pretty high. It makes up for not being a Nintendo property by covering PC and both current PlayStation titles, filling the void MH left on those consoles and exceeding it by taking the genre further. I would never want it to be on a Nintendo platform for the same reason Miramax, one of Disney’s divisions, handled Princess Mononoke as opposed to using the Disney name: while there’s nothing too explicit, there’s a lot of tact and maturity required to appreciate it.
Winner: Monster Hunter, if only because it gets the amount of story VS multi about right in MH4U, and has a solid player base. Give Toukiden time. With how Capcom straddles Monster Hunter and Toukiden appeals to both portable and console, there are bound to be people who prefer that steady ground.
Mechanics/GameplayMy criterion for liking a game is simple: I like a game if it's fun. That said, I've played enough games that I can still talk about mechanics enough to determine whether or not I enjoy them.
I’ve seen the mechanics in Monster Hunter compared to those in Dark Souls. Having never played Dark Souls, I can’t say too much about this, but from what I’ve heard, it and MH have at least one thing in common: they’re unforgiving.
In MH, you have to learn FAST. There are things that will 1 or 2-shot you in one move. You have three lives to finish a quest with, and each one lost deducts your pay. That seems fair enough, right? Against most monsters, yes.
You also have to be prepared to die a lot. That’s another thing Dark Souls and MH have in common. Idiot that I am, I sometimes didn’t learn fast enough and wound up broke. This is probably due more to me being stupid than anything else, though. I’m not very adaptable.
MH also likes concealing its mechanics using weird, ambiguous keywords. For example, what does “Tenderizer” do, and why do I want it? There’s no good skill dictionary in the game, which can be a pain in the ass.
The good news is, once you figure out what dodging invulnerability et al.are, it’s actually a pretty fun game. There are some crazy-fun armor combinations you can get, the weapons, armor, and monsters look awesome, and it’s not as hard as I make it sound once you get a good head on your shoulders. Not having a good HP bar to look at still sucks, especially if you’re trying to gauge how much damage hitting a certain part does, or when trying to capture something.
Here’s the hidden kicker: Toukiden makes getting a good head on your shoulders so much easier.
My interest in Toukiden: Kiwami started with a demo at a Best Buy. A friend of mine had put the offer of a Vita on the table, and Toukiden looked a lot like MH. I shrugged, went “cool,” and gave it a try. My initial perception of it being “Shinto Monster Hunter” was right, at first...then I saw the Eye of Truth.
The Eye of Truth lets you see a health bar. It lets you see breakable parts, and how close those parts are to breaking. Basically, it puts some of the more confusing parts of Monster Hunter in plain view for you.
MonHunt guides show weak points in a similar way, but never quite on that level. (MHW also has a way of showing this in the game - good on you!) There’s also no way the game marks parts that can be broken, leading to occasional “wait, what?” scenarios. It’d be cool to see an Eye of Truth-granting item, similar to Psychoserum. I would like to know exactly how close Shogun Ceanataur is to dying...please?
Monster Hunter also has really rickety healing. The Healing Horn, which is unpredictable, and potions are pretty much your only options. One of the bigger flaws I noticed in MH4U was that the Healing Horn blended in with the battle music, which led to me being healed when I was already dead from something. Apparently, this was fixed in Generations, to a degree, and replaced with a time-delayed potion in MHW.
This isn’t even getting into the crafting. I have a few bones to pick with the crafting system as of Generations. Specifically, “Level Up” was an awful idea - or maybe just a decent idea executed horribly.
Basically, you start with vanilla blades. There are 3-4 sets of basic blades like this, all of which you have to make. If you do not, you are doomed to use underpowered weapons throughout your entire run, with very little recourse. Annoyingly, they also really like concealing your next few options; what do I get when I level up? Leveling up became so tedious that I stopped caring.
Back in previous MH installments, you would get the chance to make new blades roughly every time you hit a major quest. Grinding for them was tedious, but made a fair amount of sense. Chances are you would want the armor off of these bosses anyways, so why not get the weapons?
I looked into this. It’s a competitive play thing. Apparently, in MH4U, there were things called Relics that you needed to make the best weapons possible. They were supposedly a pain in the ass. They were also not mandatory unless you wanted to play competitively.
Level-Up in Generations is mandatory. I get what they were going for, but one method of achieving competitive perfection was optional, and this one was not. So, yeah, slops to MHG.
Switching gears, I also like that Toukiden has a lock-on feature. Monster Hunter doesn’t. This makes it harder to play Gunner classes than BladeMasters. This one could just be me whining, so take it with a grain of salt. It’s not fun to be blindsided no matter what class you are. (“Where’s that Rathalo- *dead.”)
The final thing I’d like to talk about is drops. MH has some very rare drops, specifically the Wyvern Gems (here used to refer to any dragon gem). These have around a 1% chance of dropping. You need one for every weapon or armor set you want to make. This makes every new set of armor or weapon that you want individually time-consuming.
In Toukiden, the challenges for rare drops are largely skill-based; for example, to get the rare item I needed to make a Sky-Type naginata, I needed to break every part on a monster called a Skycutter. That was, of course, easier said than done, but still preferable to the 3% carve rate of a wyvern gem. Otherwise, many items are really easy to get, leading to some reviewers saying that Toukiden was too easy.
Oh my freaking kami was that idea dashed to pieces.
Without spoiling too much, there’s a point where the player is stranded with Reki, a naginata user. She’s not as good a healer as Nagi, but should be sufficient if you came prepared.
I did not.
In Monster Hunter, it’s typical for people to stick with one weapon for the majority of the game. Weapons come in different types, so you’re never at a loss for a type advantage. It makes sense to make weapons a royal pain to make if you’re only going to need 6-7 to cover all your bases. This is why Toukiden seems like cake to people who play Monster Hunter: the weapons are too easy to make and master.
In a cave with another naginata user, I felt the burn. There was a sense of loss that made me curse and wish I had tried to make other weapons. I tried the type advantage thing, and it helped, but damn if I didn’t miss things like Ibuki’s magic or...heck, anyone who wasn’t using my exact weapon. I felt like if I’d made other things, I would have done better in that stretch.
Also, in Toukiden, there is an extra push to make more things. Your box has a maximum 500-item limit. While this sounds like plenty, I began feeling a storage pinch towards the end of the game. As far as I know, MH doesn’t have this, or the limit is so much greater that I simply haven’t felt it.
Basically, if you thought the first few chapters of Kiwami were cake, the new stuff goes “by the way, I put poison in the frosting.” OUCH.
Is the game easy compared to Monster Hunter? Yes. Is Kiwami a step in the right direction, given how easy weapons are to make? Heck yeah. If you’re going to make weapons easier to make, create a reason for us to have multiple sets.
Some balance between the two would be ideal, given that the rare drops in Monster Hunter are required for everything. Rare items could be given in a sort of random “pack” in Monster Hunter. Doing something like breaking all of the parts deserves a treat, so why not a free shot at a Wyvern Gem for a much higher rate than a carve? The only thing I’ve really seen that comes close was the Melynx Mask in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, which could snag an extra item - even a rare one. Can we get one of those random freebies if we break all the parts? Please?
Also, Monster Hunter really needs the “store all” option. It’s annoying to click on every little thing in order to make sure you get all the stuff. If I don’t get the Rathian Plate, can I just sell everything? The option to sell/store all like Toukiden has would be amazing. It feels like Monster Hunter could take a few leaves out of Toukiden’s book, even if those leaves are rather small.
Winner: Toukiden. I’d really like it if these games could find a happy medium between them regarding mechanics in general. However, I have to give it to Toukiden, in part because Monster Hunter Generations made things that much more complicated. We had enough hidden things in the game system from the get-go. Why did you have to add more hidden twists with Leveling Up weapons?
To quote Honest Trailers, in MH, you’re fighting the game’s own system: no lock on, no enemy health bar, slow item use, and stuff that is too rare for its own good. This isn’t touching the hidden gameplay aspects. (Some of these have been fixed in MHWorld.)
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