Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch marks the second major Monster Hunter release of 2018, a move that will undoubtedly please longtime fans of the series. The first, Monster Hunter: World, released in January for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and in early August for the PC. For the past few years, Nintendo had been the go-to platform for Capcom’s world renowned franchise, and as the excitement of World thrills gamers on more powerful systems, its nice to see the Switch get a new game too. Granted, its not a new game per se. Rather, it’s a better version of a game that first hit the Nintendo 3DS back in 2015.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a remake of Monster Hunter Generations, which was a “greatest hits” of sorts, taking players on a tour of four classic villages, and over 20 locales from the game’s history. The maps feature all the same monsters from the original games, with a few new entries, and Generations Ultimate ups that ante by adding even more monsters to hunt — over 90 — including the ultra-powerful G-rank beasts that drive hunters crazy.
Possibly the biggest addition to Monster Hunter Generations were the Hunter Arts and Guild Style. Guild Style lets the player choose a specific play style that better aligns with how one hunts and takes down monsters. The various styles, like Aerial, Alchemy, or Striker, allow for special moves and bonuses to aid in hunting. There are six in total, and they can be switched out easily in the menu if one isn’t working out. Hunter Arts are special moves that are tied to a gauge, and once filled, can be utilized in various ways, from evasion to devastation. Each weapon has its own arts, which can level the playing field when taking on a monster that fills the entire screen — and there are plenty of beasts that do just that. A third type of special, dubbed SP Hunter Arts, help when playing with a group of hunters, or even just with a solo hunter and his or her palicoes, your cat-like hunting buddies.
These hunters styles and various arts added a new dimension to what has always been a very simple concept, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate continues that tradition. The series has always been focused on the cycle of going out and hunting beasts, and carving them up for better armor and weapons in order to tackle bigger and better monsters. It’s that simplicity that first drew me to the franchise, and millions of people worldwide have been hooked by allure of better weapons and bigger monsters. Later titles have added wraparound stories along with the quests, and while the weapons count has gone from a handful to a robust 14, the spirit of the original games is alive and well.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate features 21 hunting areas, ranging from the the cold peaks of Polar Field to the hot lava of Volcanic Hollow. Each region has their own ecosystem of flora and fauna, along with huge, terrifying monsters to hunt. The more powerful Switch (when compared to the Nintendo 3DS, that is) really brings these areas to life with stunning visuals. They looked good on the 3DS, but here they absolutely pop. One of my favorite indicators of increased graphical fidelity is the shadows that characters cast upon the ground. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate has some of the crispest shadows I’ve ever seen in the franchise, even giving Monster Hunter World a run for its money.
As great as it looks and plays, there are some downsides to playing a polished port of a two year old game. For starters, communicating with other players online is nothing short of tedious. Built-in voice chat is not available, with means players can only communicate via preset phrases, or by using an on-screen keyboard to type a message. The latter is next to impossible to do in the heat of battle with rampaging monsters surrounding you, which only adds to the frustration.
The second biggest issue is that after the openness and gorgeous luster of Monster Hunter World, I found it very hard to go back to the static, borderline archaic controls of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. You can’t control the camera at all in villages and hubs, and the buttons mappings are slightly different, which has led to some in-game screw ups that nearly cost me a quest.
Lastly, it’s much more commonplace for households to own multiple 3DS systems, so it was always easy for my wife and I to hunt together. With the Switch, players — even those living in the same household — would need multiple Switch systems to play together. This takes away some of the fun of couch co-op. Capcom has made it possible to transfer save data from the 3DS to the Switch, but unfortunately, players cannot cross-play together. I am well aware that I’m comparing a current generation title to an enhanced port of a two-year-old 3DS game, but after logging hundreds of hours in both Monster Hunter World and Generations over the last few years, the transition is jarring, so be prepared for that.
This is usually the part of a Nintendo Switch game review where I talk about the joy of having a game that’s portable, but since this Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate was originally a handheld title, I can switch it up (see what I did there) and talk about how great it is to play this on a huge screen. Monster Hunter Generations was an amazing entry in the franchise, and Generations Ultimate is equally as great. The nostalgic trip down memory lane is a treat, and using the Pro Controller just feels right. While the Switch may never get a port of Monster Hunter World, Capcom is still showing their support for Nintendo consoles, and that’s a win for us all.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate looks gorgeous on the Nintendo Switch, and offers players who might have discovered the franchise earlier this year (with Monster Hunter World) a chance to check out the lands, monsters, and combat that made the franchise what it is today. Generations Ultimate is a perfect reminder to how far Capcom and the millions of hunters worldwide have come, and hopefully this is a sign that the developer will not forget Nintendo, as the franchise has now found success on bigger (and more powerful) hardware.
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. A review copy was provided to us by Capcom.
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate takes players back to the origins of the famed series, and it looks and plays great on the Nintendo Switch, even if it's still a major step backwards from Monster Hunter World.