Impressions: Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Demo

We go hands-on with the elusive demo that Nintendo is rolling out to select Club Nintendo members!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 01/16/2015 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Manufactured scarcity seems to be Nintendo’s method of operation as of late, whether its Amiibo or special hardware and software bundles. This stratagem also has been seen with the last few demos Nintendo has released on 3DS. Super Smash Bros., Tomodachi Life, and Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire all had notoriously selective/quirky dissemination of their respective demos, and that is also the case (so far) with Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Capcom’s latest installment in the series is coming to Nintendo’s handheld February 13 alongside the launch of New 3DS XL (and its own custom version of the system!), and early access to the demo is currently being given out to select Club Nintendo members. Though there’s no word on when all fans can expect to play the demo, never fear– Nintendojo got to give it a whirl, and we’re ready to dish the details!

Like Smash Bros. and the Pokémon demo, the Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate demo is limitless. Meaning players can hack and slash through the thing as many times as they’d like, for as long as they’d like. I think every demo should be like that, personally, but in this case it serves a much more practical purpose. Monster Hunter games are unique. It takes a little time to settle in with the gameplay, with the pacing, everything, and to only allow players a handful of tries would ultimately do more harm than good. Making the MH4U demo unlimited was wise, as now anyone will be able to properly sink their teeth into what the franchise is all about.

Upping the ingenious factor a notch higher, though, is the inclusion of local and online multiplayer. That’s right, anyone with a copy of the demo can link together across the internet to do some communal monster hunting. Not even the Smash Bros. demo was that generous! Online play has become a major component of the series, and I think it’s very wise to give new series adopters a chance to dabble with the feature before playing the finished game. Again, what makes Monster Hunter special is hard to sum up in a few lines, so going the route of giving players a taste of the true experience feels very appropriate.

The demo begins by asking players their language preference, followed by whether or not they’d like to use the Circle Pad Pro attachment. The demo plays well with or without the peripheral, but the experience is better when coupled with that second Circle Pad. Interestingly, the demo won’t allow players to connect for multiplayer who have the difficulty set at different levels. It’s not a complaint, just something to note if some players might have a skittish friend who wants to make their first foray into the gameplay more docile; both will have to make their difficulty level sync up. With all that sorted, the demo then brings up its three playable quests: Hunt the Great Jaggi, Hunt the Tetsucabra, and Hunt the Gore Magola.

Monster Hunter 4 Screenshot

The quests range from beginner to advanced, and the descriptors are no mere window dressing. Hunt the Great Jaggi is the quintessential beginner quest, with a very reasonable boss to take down. It moves at a nice pace for players to wet their feet and learn the controls, which can be customized in a number of different ways. None of the character customization that the series is known for is present, though, but there is a wide range of weapons to choose from, which allow players to find a setup that will appeal to them when the final game comes out. I used everything from the Longsword to the Sword & Shield combo, with the latter becoming my favorite.

Again, though, the quests are made to genuinely challenge the higher the difficulty, with Hunt Tetsucabra and Gore Magola really upping the ante. I always find it welcoming to play a game that’s unafraid to throw all its weight at players, and  MH4U appears like it’s not going to pull any punches. This can drive some players up the wall with frustration, but I think the difficulty is fair, not cheap, and no one is forced to tackle anything they can’t handle. Given how beautiful the demo looks and sounds, I can’t think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t want to give MH4U a shot.

Capcom is one of those developers that knows how to get the best out of a piece of hardware, and the MH4U demo is further proof of that. It just looks stunning, with bright, vivid colors and some really unique monster designs. There are hints of Resident Evil monster elements in some of the creatures, which isn’t a ding, but  a nod to the intricacy and quality of what’s on display in this demo of MH4U. I wouldn’t say that MH4U appears at this point like it will have the absolute best graphics on 3DS, but it’s likely to be a top tier title, for sure. Especially considering how ambitious and full-featured as this installment is aiming to be.

It won’t be long before fans will be able to get their hands on the full retail version of MH4U, but for those who get to play this demo, it will be more than enough to pacify them between now and February 13. What’s here is slick, fun, and bubbling with possibility; I hope that more people get to download it, and soon. I enjoyed Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, but I have a sneaking suspicion that MH4U is going to trump that game. Keep checking Nintendojo for further details on MH4U, and look forward to our review once the final game drops!

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