Monster Hunters stalk PS2, PSP

Monster Hunter G is making its way to the PSP, and a new installment is hitting the PS2; Capcom developers give first details on both games.


According to the latest issue of Famitsu, Capcom is developing two new Monster Hunter games: Monster Hunter Portable for the PSP and Monster Hunter 2 for the PlayStation 2. Monster Hunter Portable will be a port of the PS2 version of Monster Hunter G with a number of changes to accommodate the handheld device, while Monster Hunter 2 will be an entirely new installment. Series producer Tsuyoshi Tanaka is returning to develop the two games, and series director Kaname Fujioka is working as the director for Monster Hunter 2. Famitsu interviewed the two men, and they offered some additional insights into the games.

Tanaka and Fujioka revealed that preproduction of Monster Hunter Portable for the PSP began when they started receiving information about the handheld device, but its actual development didn't start until the current year. The game is slated for release within 2005.

While the last two PS2 Monster Hunter games were designed to be played online, Monster Hunter Portable for the PSP will focus on the single-player experience. The developers did comment that Monster Hunter Portable will use the PSP's Wi-Fi connection for gameplay with up to four people, however.

As expected, Monster Hunter Portable will feature a number of new additions that extend the life of the offline mode of Monster Hunter G. One known feature is the addition of an Ailu Kitchen, a restaurant managed by a group of Ailu cats that the player can visit for a meal.

The two developers comment that the difference in screen resolution between the PSP and PS2 hasn't been a problem; the 16:9 screen ratio of the PSP will actually give a better view of the field due to its width. However, the game's controls have been an issue, since the Monster Hunter series used both analog sticks on the PS2's controller, and the PSP only comes with one. Development of Monster Hunter Portable is currently 35 percent complete.

Tanaka and Fujioka comment that Monster Hunter 2 for the PlayStation 2 will focus on the experience of "living a life as a hunter." The two developers hope to take advantage of what they accomplished in Monster Hunter G and use it to spice up Monster Hunter 2. Unfortunately, character data from previous installments of Monster Hunter won't be transferable to Monster Hunter 2 since there will be some differences in the games, but the developers are thinking of other ways to reward players of previous games.

One of the new additions in Monster Hunter 2 will be the implementation of a "time" factor. Depending on whether it's daytime or nighttime, the messages and actions of non-player characters will change, as well as the variety of monsters encountered. The system will be used for both online and offline modes. The developers comment that the game won't implement "seasons," but there will be something similar in the game. The game will feature new monsters, which necessitates the addition of new weapons as well. Tanaka and Fujioka say that offline mode in Monster Hunter 2 will be better than in the previous PS2 installments, but the game's main focus will still be its online mode. The developers also said that they are designing a new system that "lets the user feel the existence of all the players on the server." No hints were given as to what the new mode will be like, aside from the intimation that it will be different from hunting.

Development of Monster Hunter 2 is currently 20 percent complete. The developers plan to release Monster Hunter 2 after Monster Hunter Portable but hope to keep the two releases close to one another. It is known that saved data from Monster Hunter Portable will be somehow transferable to Monster Hunter 2. Both titles are expected to be playable at the Tokyo Game Show in September.

The original Monster Hunter made its way to the United States this past fall. The game saw mediocre reviews and was often compared to Phantasy Star Online.

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