Review: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS)

I feel like I’ve been here before. Three years ago when Monster Hunter Tri came out, a good chunk of the queries about the game headed my way were “explain Monster Hunter to me” and invariably my answer began with “it’s hard to put it into words”. It still is. For those who already played Monster Hunter though, namely Tri, a new question arises: should you bother with Ultimate if you invested hundreds of hours into the Wii game? Let’s try to figure that out, but first I’ll try to convey once again why Monster Hunter grabs so many people by the dangly parts.

There’s no leveling up, there are no summons, fancy acrobatics, flashy super moves and there’s definitely not a cast of annoying teenagers fighting against a super villain bent on conquering the world. In Monster Hunter, there is only the hunt. 

To hunt, you need to take Batman’s cue and invest your time into preparing yourself for the behemoths you’ll face by gathering, mining and hunting for materials that allow you to build better equipment and items that will help you. Exploring the wild will consume less time as you go on since you will learn how to optimize your time and a farm lets you multiply some materials, but preparation is also about knowing what equipment and items are suited to the environment you’ll be in and the monsters you’ll face.

When you notice it you’ll be facing bigger and bigger monsters, learning their tells, weaknesses and weak spots, devising strategies and creating equipment sets tailor made to take down a specific beast. Fighting eventually becomes a graceful and brutal dance and soon the line between making equipment to hunt and hunting to make equipment will blur, your personal goal will probably switch often between completing every quest and getting materials for that sweet armor set or weapon you’ve been eyeing.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Since you can’t level up, you will rely simply on your equipment and skills and the latter will surely be put to the test, because no amount of big shiny magical armors will help you if you keep getting hit. And this is where most people get stuck, despite the fact that Ultimate, just as Tri, makes the entry smoother than the previous games in the series, Monster Hunter demands a lot really soon. These aren’t unfair demands however, you don’t need to pull off unreasonable combos and have lightning quick reflexes 5 minutes in, what you need to do is reformat your head and realize that Monster Hunter is a slow game where preparation and observation are key factors in determining your victory and that your actions have immediate consequences. That and the fact that you’re playing a character that’s lugging around a ton of equipment, so he moves slowly and heavily which can be pretty infuriating. That’s not to say everything is right about this, the game can be excessively cumbersome and stubbornly stuck in old series’ conventions, but most of the time it’s just a matter of understanding what type of game you’re playing.

Once all these things get in your head, if the prospect of constantly challenging yourself to learn the ins and outs of monsters and equipment excites you, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the game for you. 

So what’s new here from Tri? Well, the biggest immediate difference you’ll notice if you came from Tri is that you have one from every weapon type available to you as soon as you start and the four missing types from the PSP games are present: Hunting Horn, Bow, Gunlance and Dual Sword. Add this to the Sword and Shield, Great Sword, Switch Axe, Hammer, Lance and Bowgun (simplified in Ultimate) and you have 12 weapon types, each with a radical different play style. There are also 5 new small monsters, making the total 22, and 32 additional large ones, making for an impressive roster of 50. Some of these include subspecies and are merely variations of already existing monsters though. Of course there are plenty of new quests, as well as free DLC ones and brand new, super hard G Rank quests. You will also be able to play offline what were previously online only quests, which is a given since the 3DS version of this game doesn’t support online from the get-go. Thankfully Capcom will soon release a workaround that will allow you to play online, but for that you’ll need a Wii U and a LAN adapter, which is a pretty expensive and cumbersome solution, though better than none at all.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Of course, you can (and should) play wirelessly with 3 more friends locally, with the possibility of one of them playing the Wii U version and let’s face it, multiplayer is where Monster Hunter shines. Going lone wolf can be very fun and satisfying, but there’s nothing like getting a team together to take down a giant dinosaur through the power of teamwork and big swords. By Street Passing other hunters you will trade your customizable Hunter Cards that show your records and allow you to compare results in the leaderboards. You will also be able to use your 3DS Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate save on the Wii U version of the game, via an app Capcom will put on the eShop. Please note that this wasn’t tested yet as the app wasn’t released in time for the review, but still, one can imagine that it will be very handy to use the 3DS to hunt and gather on the go, get home and play in HD on your TV.

The 3DS’ unique capabilities are surprisingly well used, especially considering it’s a Wii port. For starters, the 3D effect is very good, great not only for some eye candy and to help with the sense of scale, but to judge distance between you and the monsters, something very useful in fight. Aliasing and image quality in general can be pretty rough with 3D turned on though and turning it off in the options can increase the framerate to about 40-45 fps. Don’t worry if you want to use 3D though, the game has a pretty stable performance with it on too.

The biggest change gameplay-wise is the addition of the touch screen though, you can add several shortcuts to the touch screen that can be very handy and you can also put the HUD there, removing it from the main screen. There are a few times where the interface feels like it could use a bit more work when it comes to using the touch screen, namely when it comes to getting information and help about certain items and upgrades.

The big attraction here is the Target Cam though, when a big monster is in your area, you can touch an icon that will activate tracking, by pressing L, the camera will automatically re-center to face the monster. This doesn’t lock you on to the monster, what it does is help you gain your bearings when you’ve lost control of the camera and most importantly, no need for the infamous claw-hand PSP hunters know and suffer, where the left hand controls both the control and the camera. Of course, if you have a circle pad pro, you’ll have camera control on the second analog and ZR and ZL can be mapped to do the same function as L and R or to control the camera, making for the circle pad pro the most comfortable and precise control option, even if it isn’t at all necessary.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate With or without 3D, it’s very impressive to see one of Wii’s best looking games run so well on such a small portable and even looking better with some improvements here and there. Granted, with a powerhouse like Vita around it’s easy to be desensitized and see no big deal in this, but it is pretty cool. The low poly character model you see when creating the character isn’t the best example of the game’s graphics that deliver once you see the beautiful vistas, armors and weapons in their full glory and most importantly all the attention to detail and amazing animations of the big monsters making their movements believable. The sound department is no slouch either, with some great tunes showing up during the fights contrasting with the silence of exploring the rest of the game’s world. The star here are all the sound effects though: the growls, roars, yelps, calls, the sounds of swords slashing through the air and hitting flesh, hammers breaking off horns and blades being sharpened. Put your headphones on and pay attention to all the sounds, they really add to the experience.

Tri veterans will definitely have to sift through a lot they’ve already done countless times, but with all the new weapons types and even ones you simply haven’t tried, there are lots of new ways to play the game. Not only that, there are plenty of new monsters and quests to sink your teeth into, making an already gigantic game even bigger in addition to the fact that you can now play it on the go and in 3D, so unless Tri really filled you up to the point where you can take no more, Ultimate is worth your time. 
If you’re new, there’s no need to be scared, it might be hard to get into, but once you do, it’ll be hard to get out- that’s the scary part.

 Be sure to check out our review of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U as well.

N-Europe Final Verdict

No native online is a glaring omission and it can be a daunting undertaking at start, but once you get past the entry barrier, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is an amazing game both in single and multiplayer.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability3
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



Beautiful graphics
Great use of 3D
Lots of content
Great to play on the go


No native online
Plenty of seen before material for some
Steep learning curve

© Copyright 2024 - Independent Nintendo Coverage Back to the Top