Monster Hunter Stories: Enhanced Switch Review

Discover the enhanced RPG adventure of Monster Hunter Stories on Nintendo Switch

Monster Hunter Stories (Nintendo Switch) Review

Our Story Begins…

Monster Hunter Stories
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Role-playing (RPG)
ESRB: E10 (Everyone 10+)
MSRP: $29.99
Release Date: 06/10/2024
Review Score: 8

A Belated Adventure

I always regretted not experiencing Monster Hunter Stories when it originally launched on the Nintendo 3DS. I mentioned in my Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin review that I had played a demo briefly, but it was after the Switch had been released, and I had mostly moved on from the 3DS. Revisiting the 3DS recently has made me appreciate the quality of its games and left me wondering what other gems I had missed.

Monster Hunter Stories would have captivated me back in 2017. It was one of those standout 3DS games that combined engaging gameplay with an impressive aesthetic, standing alongside titles like Ever Oasis, Yokai Watch, and Fantasy Life. Each of these games brought something unique to the handheld console, showcasing the innovative spirit of developers during that era. I wasn’t expecting Capcom to bring the 3DS game to the Switch—and the PS4—but I’m glad they did, giving me a chance to experience the original in an updated way. It felt like unearthing a forgotten treasure that had been polished for a new audience.

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An Enhanced Classic

For the most part, Monster Hunter Stories remains the same game it was in 2017, now with an HD upgrade and full voice acting for all dialogue. The visual upgrade is significant, transforming the already vibrant world into something even more captivating. The HD visuals bring out details that were previously hidden in the 3DS’s lower resolution, making the environments, characters, and monsters more vivid and engaging. Reviewing this game is a challenge because I could easily pull from my Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin review—part of the issue of playing the sequel first.

Given that many gamers and newer Monster Hunter fans likely played Wings of Ruin first, it’s worth evaluating Monster Hunter Stories on its own merits. It’s an exceptional RPG set in the Monster Hunter universe. If you liked Wings of Ruin, much of what you enjoyed comes from this predecessor. The game’s core mechanics, story, and charm are all present in this earlier iteration, giving it a timeless quality that holds up well even years after its initial release.

Story and Gameplay

Monster Hunter Stories begins with the player and two friends searching for Monster eggs to become Riders. This opening sequence sets the tone for the entire game, blending curiosity and adventure with a touch of danger. They find an egg and hatch a baby Rathalos without performing the ritual to bond with it. The three take the Rathalos, named Ratha, back to their village, unaware of the spreading Black Blight. This event kicks off a chain of events that thrusts the young Riders into a world filled with peril and mystery.

Back at the village, a Blighted Nargacuga attacks, destroying much of the village and killing the mother of the player’s friend Cheval. This tragedy sets the friends on different paths to stop the blight. The narrative explores themes of loss, friendship, and the struggle against an overwhelming darkness. It’s a genuinely engaging story that balances lighthearted moments with darker themes of loss and revenge, aided by the debut of Navirou, a bombastic Palico who joins the player.

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Navirou’s presence adds a layer of humor and levity to the game. His witty remarks and unwavering confidence provide a stark contrast to the often grim circumstances the player faces. He quickly becomes an indispensable companion, offering both guidance and comic relief.

The gameplay is similar to Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, but more simplistic. Players travel across vast lands, solving monster-related problems, gathering eggs, and engaging in turn-based battles that mix elements from Monster Hunter with rock-paper-scissors strategy. This blend of exploration, collection, and combat creates a compelling loop that keeps players engaged for hours on end.

Differences and Design

Playing Wings of Ruin first might make this feel like a step back, as the battles lack some of the sequel’s nuance. There’s a degree of randomness to how Monsters and Monsties attack, making strategizing unpredictable. This unpredictability can be both a blessing and a curse, adding a layer of excitement to battles while occasionally leading to frustrating outcomes. However, considering its origins on the 3DS, it works well as a small-scale, experimental RPG.

The game’s design, intended for the 3DS, is more directed and digestible than its sequel. The structured approach makes it easier for players to follow the main narrative while still offering plenty of opportunities for exploration and side quests. Fights are faster and less grindy, and the world, though small, feels large. This sense of scale is achieved through clever design and a focus on creating memorable, distinct locations.

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Visuals and Performance

Being a faithful remake of a 3DS game, it can look visually underwhelming at times. Areas feel flat and lack detailed foliage. However, the cel-shaded style brings the game to life with vibrant color and charm. The bright, colorful visuals are a feast for the eyes, and the character designs are both unique and endearing.

The HD upgrade has done wonders for the game’s overall presentation. The environments are more detailed, and the animations are smoother, making the world feel more alive. Characters and monsters are more expressive, adding depth to the interactions and battles.

It runs better than Wings of Ruin with less load time and fewer frame stutters. This improvement in performance is likely due to the game’s origins on less powerful hardware, allowing the Switch to handle it with ease. The smoother performance enhances the overall experience, making exploration and combat more enjoyable.

Audio and Nostalgia

The audio, while good, sounds like flattened 3DS audio, with some repetitive sound effects. The limitations of the original hardware are still somewhat apparent in the audio design. Nevertheless, the familiar Monster Hunter sound effects spark nostalgia, and the music and newly voiced characters add charm. The soundtrack, with its mix of adventurous and serene themes, complements the gameplay perfectly.

The addition of full voice acting brings a new level of immersion to the game. Characters feel more alive and the story more impactful with their voices adding emotion and personality to the dialogue. This upgrade makes the narrative more engaging, drawing players deeper into the world of Monster Hunter Stories.

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Final Thoughts

Monster Hunter Stories might not surpass its Switch sequel, but it’s an excellent game deserving a second life on the platform that overshadowed the original. It’s charming, heartfelt, and perfect for handheld play. The game’s portability is one of its greatest strengths, allowing players to dive into its rich world wherever they are. Fans of Monster Hunter or Wings of Ruin will find plenty to enjoy.

The game’s blend of exploration, collection, and turn-based combat offers a unique experience that stands out in the RPG genre. Its story, filled with emotional highs and lows, provides a compelling reason to keep playing. The characters, both human and Monstie, are memorable and endearing, making the player’s journey through the game’s world feel personal and meaningful.

Capcom’s decision to bring Monster Hunter Stories to the Switch allows a new generation of gamers to experience this gem. The improvements in visuals, performance, and audio make it a worthy addition to any RPG fan’s collection. Whether you’re revisiting the game or experiencing it for the first time, Monster Hunter Stories is a captivating adventure that’s hard to put down.

Review Score: 8

FAQs for Monster Hunter Stories (Nintendo Switch)

1. What is Monster Hunter Stories?

Monster Hunter Stories is a role-playing game (RPG) developed and published by Capcom. Originally released on the Nintendo 3DS, it has been remastered for the Nintendo Switch with HD graphics and full voice acting. The game is set in the Monster Hunter universe and features turn-based combat, exploration, and monster collection.

2. What’s new in the Nintendo Switch version?

The Nintendo Switch version of Monster Hunter Stories includes several enhancements:

  • HD Graphics: Improved visuals with higher resolution.
  • Full Voice Acting: All dialogue is fully voiced.
  • Performance Improvements: Reduced load times and fewer frame rate issues compared to the original 3DS version.

3. Do I need to play Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin first?

No, you do not need to play Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin first. While Wings of Ruin is a sequel, each game stands on its own with unique stories. However, playing both can provide a richer understanding of the series’ lore and gameplay evolution.

4. How does the gameplay in Monster Hunter Stories differ from other Monster Hunter games?

Monster Hunter Stories differs from mainline Monster Hunter games in several key ways:

  • Turn-Based Combat: Battles use a turn-based system with a rock-paper-scissors mechanic.
  • Monster Collection: Players collect and hatch monster eggs to raise and bond with Monsties.
  • Story-Driven: The game has a strong narrative focus, unlike the more mission-based structure of traditional Monster Hunter games.

5. What are Monsties?

Monsties are monsters that players can hatch from eggs, raise, and bond with. They serve as both companions and mounts, aiding in exploration and combat. Each Monstie has unique abilities and attributes, contributing to the player’s strategy in battles.

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6. Is Monster Hunter Stories suitable for younger players?

Yes, Monster Hunter Stories is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB. It features a lighthearted tone balanced with themes of adventure and friendship, making it suitable for a younger audience while still engaging for older players.

7. How long is the game?

The main story of Monster Hunter Stories typically takes around 30-40 hours to complete. However, completionists who aim to collect all Monsties and explore every aspect of the game can spend upwards of 50-60 hours.

8. Can you transfer data between the 3DS and Switch versions?

No, there is no feature to transfer save data between the 3DS and Nintendo Switch versions of Monster Hunter Stories. Players will need to start fresh on the Switch version.

9. Are there multiplayer features?

Yes, Monster Hunter Stories includes multiplayer features. Players can engage in battles against friends locally or online, adding a competitive element to the game.

10. Is there post-game content?

Yes, Monster Hunter Stories offers substantial post-game content, including additional quests, rare Monsties to discover, and challenging battles that extend the gameplay experience beyond the main story.

11. How does the rock-paper-scissors combat system work?

The combat system in Monster Hunter Stories is based on a rock-paper-scissors mechanic:

  • Power beats Technical
  • Technical beats Speed
  • Speed beats Power

Understanding and predicting the enemy’s attack type is crucial for winning battles. Players and their Monsties can use different attack types, and selecting the correct type in response to the enemy’s attack grants advantages in combat.

12. Can I customize my character and Monsties?

Yes, players can customize their character’s appearance and gear. Monsties can also be customized to an extent through gene splicing, which allows players to transfer abilities between Monsties, enhancing their skills and stats.

13. What makes the story of Monster Hunter Stories engaging?

The story of Monster Hunter Stories is engaging due to its balance of lighthearted and darker themes. It follows the protagonist and friends as they become Riders, face the threat of the Black Blight, and deal with personal loss and revenge. The inclusion of colorful characters like Navirou adds humor and charm, enriching the narrative experience.

14. What are the challenges in playing Monster Hunter Stories?

Challenges in Monster Hunter Stories include:

  • Strategizing in Battles: Predicting enemy moves and selecting the right attacks.
  • Collecting and Raising Monsties: Finding and hatching rare eggs, and leveling up Monsties.
  • Exploring the World: Navigating various terrains and completing side quests while managing resources.

15. Is Monster Hunter Stories worth buying on the Switch if I already own the 3DS version?

If you enjoyed the 3DS version and want to experience the game with enhanced visuals, voice acting, and improved performance, the Switch version is a worthy purchase. The improvements make for a more immersive and polished experience that fans of the original will appreciate.

These FAQs should help both new players and veterans of the Monster Hunter series understand what Monster Hunter Stories on the Nintendo Switch has to offer and why it’s a valuable addition to their gaming library.

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