Good willed hunting.
Make no mistake, the wireless communication between the Wii U and 3DS versions of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the biggest selling point. You literally create a character and complete missions on one system, then transfer this data to the other device in a matter of minutes, thanks to a free app you download from the 3DS eShop. In addition, the portable game essentially mirrors its console counterpart, with the same environments, creatures and equipment. It's an impressive feat when you consider that Ultimate is a slightly enhanced Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii. It's also a reminder that shoehorning console games onto an underpowered handheld comes at great cost visually.
Simply put, Monster Hunter 3DS is ugly. It's without question one of the worst looking games we've seen on Nintendo's portable. Whereas the Wii U edition impresses with high-definition graphics and fantastic bursts of bright colors, the 3DS game looks blurred and muddy. Text is difficult to read and details tough to make out. Monsters still invoke fear and that wonderful sense of awe, thanks to Capcom's brilliant designs, but there's no comparison (rightfully so, considering the tech involved) between Wii U and 3DS. The console game is of high quality, the handheld one isn't.
That said, the stark graphical contrast doesn't ruin the experience per se, largely because players are still in for one of the deepest, most rewarding action RPGs on any platform. This isn't the type of game that allows you to pop in for five minutes and get your daily fix. An untold number of hours will be spent crafting items, scouring the world for resources and preparing to battle a variety of progressively difficult creatures both on land and water. You don't play Monster Hunter as much as it becomes a part of your life, however significant. Team up with four friends locally (compared to online play on Wii U), and the game takes on a deeper meaning. Taking down monsters solo is quite good, but tackling them with friends is more rewarding.
We also have to give Capcom credit for the controls, which operate using one circle pad or the Circle Pad Pro if you're still using the original 3DS. As for the touch screen, directions on how to utilize it more efficiently could have been clearer, but that's a microcosm of the overall "you figure it out" stance Capcom seemingly takes with the series.
Throw in a new monster, additional quests and items, and there's a great chance you'll play Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for months and perhaps well over a year. There's a staggering amount of content that more than justifies the asking price, and we'd like to think hardcore fans won't have too much of a problem with the graphics. At the same time, and considering the resolution gap between the 3DS screen and competing platforms, this title does more harm than good.
Review copy provided by Capcom.
What's Hot:Local multiplayer, transferring data between systems, large variety of monsters and items.
What's Not:Disappointing graphics, somewhat vague directions.