Monster Hunter Tri

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FeatureAs Monster Hunter turns 10, can Capcom finally make the west listen?

We interview its creator Ryozo Tsujimoto to find out.

10 years ago today Capcom released the first Monster Hunter game. It launched in Japan for the PlayStation 2 as part of a new initiative from Capcom's Production Studio 1 designed to test the waters of online console gaming. It was a triumvirate that included cel-shaded racing game Auto Modellista, the multiplayer-focused Resident Evil: Outbreak and, of course, Monster Hunter. Capcom hoped at least one would sell a million copies, what the company considered then to be the mark of a hit title. One did.

Monster Hunter helps Japanese tourism

Rural resort ships in gamers.

A Japanese spa resort has come up with an innovative way to boost visitors – ship in gamers looking for a slice of authentic Monster Hunter scenery.

Monster Hunter Portable 3rd

Too big for its dragon-leather boots.

Whenever there's a new Monster Hunter to show off, the Tokyo Game Show belongs to Capcom. The floor is theirs, to do with as they please. A stuffed Felyne and immaculately dressed-up girls greet the patient players who've made it to the front of the hours-long queues that snake around the play space – a specially constructed, elaborate mini-village made out of paper and wood. The triumphant brass of the theme music booms out across the halls, drawing yet more attendees. Battles are broadcast on a huge screen, tantalising those still at the back of the endless queues with epic four-player face-offs against fantastical beasts. Don't let the tiny system fool you – this is the biggest game of the show.

Volcano ruins MH Tri London launch

Volcano ruins MH Tri London launch

Japanese devs can't get here.

VOLCANO WATCH: We've got a casualty! Capcom has regretfully informed fans that Japanese star developers Ryozo Tsujimoto and Kaname Fujioka cannot attend the London Monster Hunter Tri launch event at GAME on Oxford Street this Friday.

The great cloud of ash spewed by Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano means they can't fly here. And it's a bit too far to walk.

Nevertheless, the show must go on, and Capcom will have Tsujimoto-san and Fujioka-san sign Monster Hunter Tri sleeves and post them out to the first 100 people through the doors at the London's Oxford Street GAME store.

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Monster Hunter Tri

Monster Hunter Tri

Tri force.

Monster Hunter is, fittingly, quite the behemoth - a massive game in terms of both content and, elsewhere, popularity. To extend that analogy, it's also a game which has always tended to either consume people entirely, or frighten them off before they've really had a chance to engage with it.

It's seen tremendous success in Japan, being a massive system-seller for the beleaguered PSP, but a steep difficulty curve and a lack of sensible online options have always relegated it to the status of a niche classic in the West. It makes sense, then, that its appearance on Wii with Tri is an attempt to address those issues.

However, Monster Hunter is in the awkward position of seeing many of the same points on both sides of its love/hate balance sheet. To some extent, ameliorating the concerns of the haters would mean alienating an incredibly dedicated and loyal fanbase.

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London launch for Monster Hunter Tri

London launch for Monster Hunter Tri

Meet its makers at GAME on Oxford St.

Wii game Monster Hunter Tri arrives in Europe next week, and Nintendo and Capcom has organised a free London launch event for fans and curious passers-by.

Oxford Street's GAME store is the venue, and the 5.30pm start (7.30pm finish) allows people with jobs and therefore money to attend. Phew.

Monster Hunter series producer Ryozo Tsujomoto and director Kaname Fujiok will be on hand to sign copies and smile at you. The first 50 people in line will be given a free Monster Hunter bag that contains some MH merchandise not on sale here in the UK.

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Monster Hunter Tri deals revealed

Pre-order your copy, get a free head.

Anyone that pre-orders Wii game Monster Hunter Tri early enough will receive a free head from Capcom. The head of a dragon-like Rathalos creature, to be precise.

Monster Hunter isn't hardcore - creators

At least not as far as Japan's concerned.

Monster Hunter creators Ryozo Tsujimoto and Kaname Fujioka have said the game isn't seen as a hardcore title in Japan - more of a typical action adventure.

MH Tri Portable is "a rumour" - Capcom

"Not even remotely close" to announcement.

Capcom UK has poured cold water on reports that the Wii's Monster Hunter Tri will get a PSP version, saying, "This is a rumour."

Lost Planet 2, SSFIV get release dates

Lost Planet 2, SSFIV get release dates

Plus: Monster Hunter Tri due in April.

Capcom has announced a whole bundle of release dates for its forthcoming titles.

First up is Lost Planet 2, which will launch in Europe and North America on 18th May. The game is in development for PS3 and Xbox 360 and will feature six interconnected episodes, "creating a truly unique interactive experience that changes depending upon the actions of the players involved", according to Capcom. You'll be able to team up with a maximum of three other players and fight the good fight over Xbox Live and PSN.

Speaking of which, Super Street Fighter IV will be coming to Europe on 30th April, also on PS3 and 360. The US will get it three days earlier. Expect new online modes, combos and characters, including Tae Kwon Do specialist Juri.

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Monster Hunter Tri

Tri bien.

The first thing that you notice about Monster Hunter Tri isn't the high-standard graphics or new-and-improved tweaked battle controls, oh no - it's the fact that everybody appears to be wandering around in assless chaps and thongs. The game's opening sequence depicts a typically idyllic Monster Hunter village, all carefree music and dancing, behatted cats and strong men carrying enormous fish and pails of water and farming equipment around on their muscular backs, but all of them are showing off a bit of cheek. Your character, once created, starts off in a crop top and hotpants. Like its predecessors, and refreshingly for a series of such lineage, the game better known as Tri doesn't take itself remotely seriously. It has a surreal sense of humour and an eye for visual comedy, evident in everything from outlandish armour sets to the absurd barbecuing mini-game.

Capcom confirmed for EG Expo

Capcom confirmed for EG Expo

Lost Planet 2, Monster Hunter Tri, more.

You know, this is already a pretty sweet job. We get to play games, write about them and attend parties populated by heroes, fairies and talking cars. It gets even better, however, when it comes to making these joyful announcements about the marvellous games you’ll all be playing at this year’s Eurogamer Expos.

Making the transition from rumoured to confirmed today are those stalwart folk at Capcom, green-lighting no less than five titles to be shown on our already packed show floors in London and Leeds.

Top of the list is a eight-player Lost Planet 2 experience on PS3. A slight departure in its multiplayer focus, the Lost Planet sequel still features the huge enemies and stompy robot suits which made the original so popular. Take a look at the gameplay trailer over on Eurogamer TV for a better idea of the new, less icy setting.

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Monster Hunter 3

Tri, tri again.

There are few games as hotly anticipated in Japan as Monster Hunter 3. On the PSP alone, Monster Hunter games have sold more than five million copies in the region. Everybody on the jam-packed trains is playing it, and bringing out a PSP instantly prompts strangers to invite you into matches (why else would you own one, after all?). Monster Hunter 3's stand on the TGS floor dwarfed those of most publishers, and was consistently jam-packed with eager members of the public willing to wait three to four hours for ten minutes in its company. It is a national obsession.