Games: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate an updated port of the classic formula
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (Switch)
IT'S hard to overstate just how popular Monster Hunter is in its native Japan. Since its PS2 debut in 2004, the beast-battling series single-handedly saved Sony's PSP from extinction and became the Wii's best selling non-Nintendo game. Even Hollywood wants in on the action – though there's no beginning to the talents of attached marital duo, director Paul WS Anderson and Milla Jovovoich.
While the latest in the series, Monster Hunter World, was released on PS4 and Xbox earlier this year to much fanfare (shifting 10 million in the process), Generations is the last throw of the dice for the old-school routine. Originally released on the 3DS in 2016, Ultimate is an updated, warts n' all port of the classic formula.
Given it was originally created for seven-year-old hardware, your eyes will hardly dine out on the results. There's a chunky, lipstick-on-a-pig quality here, with jagged edges, blocky creatures, barren landscapes and interminable loading screens between areas. Played in the Switch's handheld mode, though, a lower resolution helps Vaseline over those crow's feet.
While World strained to appeal to the mainstream, trimming the grind and leading gamers by the hand, here we have the genuine excitement of blindly stumbling on behemoths in the wild. Chucked unceremoniously into the first village, series virgins will stumble through its opening hours as they capture beasts and wear their skin for some hide and chic like a scaly Buffalo Bill.
PETA-baiting togs aside, your adventures serve up increasingly difficult quarry, with side quests aplenty and online play for up to four fellow hunters. A more primitive spin on the series than World, a deep groove of grubwork runs through its 60-hour grind as players study then slaughter monsters before looting their corpses for trinkets.
To sweeten the deal, Generations Ultimate adds 20 monsters to the original roster for a 93-strong cast that'll have the hardcore fanbase reaching for their inhalers. By comparison, Monster Hunter World boasts a meagre 31. Valor and Alchemy styles have been added to the character classes while a cripplingly tough new G-Rank will test the mettle of franchise faithful.
Time makes fools of us all, and while Generations may not be swaddled in swank, its portable slaughterhouse sacrifices spit and polish for a record menagerie of digital beats to slay. Though while this blast from the near-past makes for one helluva package for die-hards, interest-piqued greenhorns will find Monster Hunter World a less brutal launchpad.