Monster Hunter is Finally Coming to the PS Vita, and What This Means for Sony’s Portable Platform

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Monster Hunter, the series responsible for the booming success of the PSP in Japan, has been a scarcity on Sony Consoles recently. What was once almost an exclusive series has now branched out to a variety of different consoles, all except the Vita. Seeing as the Vita doesn’t have an overwhelmingly impressive library, and it is in fact the successor to the PSP, one would think a new Monster Hunter title should have been announced by now for the impressive yet struggling handheld. It is well known and clear to almost everyone that one thing that could save the Vita from ending up like the PSP Go! is a Monster Hunter game; so it is with much relief that we finally have news of the series coming to the Vita.

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Just last night at the Tokyo Game Show 2013, we received a trailer showcasing the already announced Monster Hunter Frontier G, only this time it was shown on a Vita background. We knew MHFG was coming to PS3 and WiiU, so this is a nice surprise. Now, MHFG is not a new game by any means. It is a direct port from the long time running Monster Hunter Frontier Online, an MMO that’s been available in Japan and Korea on PC for the better part of the last decade (and Xbox 360 for a shorter time). It’s remained wildly successful due to the constant updates it receives. These updates are not mere fixes; they are large game packs that are free to everyone (as everyone pays a subscription to play) which includes new monsters, areas, weapons, armor and different weapon movements. The “new” MHFG will pick up where MHFO is, with the newest installment package and everything that goes with it. While the team is considering adding console specific additions – such as trophies for PS3 – the game will be an exact copy.

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The newly announced Vita version will be compatible with the PS3 version, although there may be some content left out (which has yet to be explained). Now, what does this mean for the Vita? Quite simply. It’s hope. The Vita has been struggling to make large sales anywhere, and this should give it a nice shot in the arm. However, keep in mind that MHFG isn’t new, those who already have it on PC as MHFO may be less likely to purchase a new console for the same game – however it is Japan and a truly portable online Monster Hunter is quite the deal. I personally think it will do quite well in Japan, which will do wonders for the Vita right now.

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But Japan gets all of the MH love? What about the West? Well that remains to be seen. I personally highly doubt the localization of MHFG. Why? Because we’re not Monster Hunter crazy over here. A port of a game that hasn’t had an upgrade to the engine in its long lifespan won’t impress many newcomers to the series. And with the (unverified but probable) subscription to play, there will be even less interested. Now, could we simply import MHFG? Thus boosting sales in general, benefitting the Vita and showing that it is worth investing? Ultimately pushing developers and publishers to localize more games to the West? Probably not. The reason MHFO never made it big in the West was because of the verifications it required in playing online. You needed legitimate Japanese/Korean personal information for the subscription, a system that could be used for MHFG. Perhaps we will get lucky and see the subscription go through PSN or the Nintendo Store, in that case it would be much easier to play, once overcoming the vast language barrier that will have to be relearned with every new update.

In the end, Monster Hunter may in fact save the Vita, but I’m not so sure that us in the West will realize it.