Monster Hunter Retrospective: 1st Generation

I have a very long history with the video game series known as Monster Hunter. These video games have definitely left their mark on the medium and created an entire sub-genre of RPG. Having played a fair amount of the main series games, I wanted to go into detail on what I thought of each individual generation of games. After all, I’ve had a very long history with the games and played at least one game in each generation. I’m going to go over every generation of the series starting with the first few games in the series that compromise the “1st Generation”.

The 1st Generation starting with the game simply titled Monster Hunter. It was originally released on the Playstation 2 in 2004. It was meant to be a million unit seller and it sell that many copies and easily surpassed that. However, Monster Hunter has mainly been a cult hit in Japan. It took several games in the series before it became half as popular in America as it was in Japan. Now, allow me to go into detail into what the game is all about and my personal experiences with it.

In total, there are three versions of the game. The first version was the aforementioned Monster Hunter. The gameplay in this game involved you hunting monster and gathering materials. You could also capture monsters, which could sometimes be difficult. I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally killed the monster when I meant to simply capture it. Sometimes, I can go a bit overboard with my greatsword! A game has a fair amount of bosses, such as the fire-spitting dragon Rathalos or the poisonous worm-dragon Khezu. You had to fight these creatures using your wits, skill, and endurance. At the same time, you had to keep a careful eye on your health bar. If your health bar drops to zero, you faint. And if you faint three times, you lose. The game also boasts a multiplayer feature, with the catch being that the three faints rule applies to this mode as well.

The PS2 boasted online functionality, as did the second version of this game. The third version does not, which kind of sucks because that was my favorite version. In the game, you choose from one of five different weapons: Great Swords, Lances, Sword And Shield, Hammers and Dual Swords. On top of that, two additional ranged weapon classes were available: Light Bowguns and Heavy Bowguns. The game features two different classes, your class will be assigned to you based on the weapon you chose. Those who use melee weapons are dubbed as “Blademasters” and those who used ranged weapons classify as “Gunners”. You can also craft armor and there are two different versions of each armor set. One can only be worn by Gunners while the other is only worn by Blademasters. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’d play this game in my teenage years and accidentally make the wrong armor set for my class type! It’s embarrassing to say the least. The weapons I used most tended to be the great swords and hammers. I would occasionally use dual blades as well, but not very often. I preferred the heavier weapons, because they took a fair bit more skill to master. It’s extremely hard to line up your attacks properly with these weapons, but they deal enough damage to be just as useful as the lighter weapons. The game developers made the weapons fairly balanced.

Monster Hunter also let you gather off the land during missions. You can gather ore by mining, you can fish for various species of fish that have different uses, and you can even gather for herbs and mushrooms that you can use to brew potions. You can also catch bugs using a bugnet and gain rare insects. And if you’re really desperate for materials, you can root around in dung for monster feces and the occasional dragon scale.

Gross.
Gross.

On top of large bosses, there is also many smaller enemies such as the annoying raptors known as Velociprey and the moss-covered pigs known as Mosswine. You’ll also run into Bullfangos, a charging bull enemy who will constantly try to ram you. You’d think it wouldn’t be a problem once you got strong enough, but Bullfangos can become such a bother once you’re with a giant monster. I can’t tell you how many times I got knocked into enemy fire by a Bullfango’s charge. Definitely, the most annoying enemy is the Velociprey. The Velociprey will often leap at you and knock you back and on top of that they are usually found in packs. They’ll gang up on you if you’re not careful and in some areas they respawn constantly meaning you’ll deal with multiple Velocipreys while trying to gather or fight bosses.

I hate these things.
I hate these things.

I’ll be honest, I sucked at this game when I was younger. I probably didn’t get good at it until Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. I started off pretty bad mainly because the game did a pretty poor job of explaining everything about the game. Sure, it gave me the basics but skimped on a lot of details. With the 1st generation, their wasn’t any complex weapon tutorials so using weapons that all worked different from each other took at lot of getting used to. Mastering the dual blades isn’t the same as mastering the hammer. Each weapon was different and took getting used to, but part of the fun was learning the intricacies of all the game’s weapons.

As mentioned earlier, this isn’t the only version of the game. The second version is known as Monster Hunter G. It basically was an enchanced version of Monster Hunter. It didn’t introduce any brand new bosses, in fact all of the new bosses were “Sub-Species”. Sub-Species are basically palette swaps, yet they possess new abilities, attacks, or elements. Maybe palette swap is a bad description, they are more like “Well-Constructed Counterfeits”. They also retooled the skill system. Originally, you would only get skills if you wore the right type of armor but now your special skills were dictated by the amount of points you had in that specific skill. Also, the game introduced two new levels of weapon sharpness. Before, the only levels of weapon sharpness were red, yellow, and green. This game introduced us to two new levels of sharpness: Blue and white. With these levels of sharpness your hunter was able to pierce bosses with rougher hides. The game also introduced G Rank quests, which would become a standard for every Monster Hunter game to come. You see, in the first game there was only Low Rank and High Rank quests, but with G Rank you can participate in quests that are 20 times as hard.

Monster Hunter G also introduced Kokoto Farm, a special area where you can gather items without doing quests. You can use the farm to create duplicates of plants or mine ore outside of quests. This was a very welcome feature, as it did make it so you wouldn’t have to repeat as many quests just to get materials. Monster Hunter G also introduced a much need Training School where you could hone your skills and become good at the game. Finally, the game introduced Felyne Chefs who would cook you foot inbetween quests. Choosing certain food options would give you much needed stat buffs. Monster Hunter G was only released in Japan, unlike the original version of the game.

And then came the last version of the game: Monster Hunter Portable AKA Monster Hunter Freedom. Monster Hunter Freedom was a portable version of Monster Hunter G and was actually released in America unlike G. It’s the same game as G and it’s the only one way to play the game in America. Monster Hunter G was also released on Wii, but again only in Japan. The 1st Generation was surprisingly solid. Even though I sucked at it, I couldn’t say that I hated it. It was one of the most fun PSP games I ever played despite being immensely hard. I’ll be sure to talk about the other generations at a later date.

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