NS Review – Monster Hunter Stories

Monster Hunter with cutesy anime graphics and a turn-based combat system? Sounds good to me. That was my initial impression when I saw screenshots for Monster Hunter Stories for the first time. However, in this NIS America/Kemco era of JRPGS being produced on what seems like a monthly basis I now expect a lot from a £30+ priced equivalent. Does it deliver? Not quite, but that’s shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker from parting with your cash so read on and I’ll explain why.


Firstly, some background about Capcom making Classic JRPGs given that their modern titles either fall under the category of Action-RPG, Action-Adventure or Beat-Em-Up. Prior to Stories, Capcom hadn’t released a Classic JPRG game to the West since Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter on the PS2 back in 2003, a game which was praised for being the exception rather the rule at the time. That makes it 14 years between that and MH Stories so credit to Capcom for returning to the genre after such a long absence.

The main premise of Stories is you’re ‘Rider’ (not a Hunter) who forms friendships with ‘Monsties’ (not Monsters) who goes on an adventure to find out the source of the ‘Black Blight’ Virus (not the Frenzy Virus from MH4) which makes Monsters more aggressive than normal. During your adventure you’ll have the opportunity to steal eggs from nests and you’ll hatch these to get more Monsties.


Surprisingly, the first fight doesn’t take place into about half an hour into the game. Whereas Monster Hunter 4 and Generations respectively throw you into the action at the start Stories takes the time to build up a narrative and for you to get to know the main characters better.  Like in previous Monster Hunter instalments, you are able to create your own character and yes, you guessed it, your character is a mute. Also, like in previous Monster Hunter instalments on the 3DS the graphics in Stories are top notch, in fact, I would say it’s one of the best looking games on Nintendo’s 6+ year old handheld.

I was very keen to see how the combat worked in Stories and for me this was a bit disappointing. Turn based battles involve a Rock, Papers and Scissors mechanic in which you have the option to use a) A Power Attack b) A Speed Attack and c) A Technical Attack. There are also special moves to use that fall outside of this group such as Fireball, Rest etc plus the option to switch out your Monstie with another Monstie.


An original aspect of the combat is being able to ride (not mount) your Monstie once the Kinship meter has filled up. Unsurprisingly, this makes you more powerful and also enables you to use a Kinship super move to inflict a high amount of damage. There are also these what I like to call ‘Track and Field’ style events which involve repeatedly mashing the A button or repeatedly turning the analogue stick. I like to relax when I play story driven RPGs and this feature of the combat feels senseless and annoying, something that feels it was just added on just to add some variety to the combat system.

Another feature unique to Stories is ‘Channelling’ and this is in my opinion is the best aspect of the game. Each of your Monsties has its own 3 x 3 grid which is used for both Active Skills and Passive Skills and when your Monstie hatches you’ll see that some of these slots are empty. To add to an empty slot is to pass on the genes of an another monster who has a skill that occupies the same slot on the grid or use a ritual item. The best way to describe how transferring one Monstie’s genes to another is to think of one grid overlaying the other grid to fill in the gaps. You could easily spend hours upon hours collecting eggs to get the right genes to boost your Monstie team.


Monster Hunter Stories is a good JPRG for the 3DS that could have been better if the combat was more enjoyable. That said, if you do find the combat too pedestrian you can always increase the combat speed. It’s a game with lots of positives let down by one major negative. The characters and monsters all look great, there’s plenty of side quests to distract you from the main story and of course there are the cat puns too. Furthermore, the multiplayer battles are the perfect excuse to spend ages egg collecting to develop your own unbeatable Monstie team. If you’re looking for something to keep you busy until Ultra Sun and Moon comes out then Monster Hunter Stories (or Monstie Rider) is definitely worth checking out.

Monster Hunter Stories is out now.

Many thanks to Nintendo UK for supplying the code for the review.

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