- "The undisputed champion of last week's Tokyo Game Show wasn't Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo. It was Capcom, whose latest Monster Hunter game, Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii, drew lines over four hours long within minutes of the show opening each day. A bit away from the hoards of players lined up for a sampling of the new game, we managed to track down producer Ryozo Tsujimoto for a brief one-on-one. We asked about the Monster Hunter phenomenon as a whole and about some of the new elements of the Wii version that had been announced at a stage event the day before."
- — John Tanaka of IGN
1. IGN: We tried to play the game today, but when we got to the show first thing in the morning, the lines were already 4 hours long. While Monster Hunter lines tend to be pretty long, are you surprised at this strong a reaction?
Tsujimoto: It's been two or three years since we've had an actual console version of Monster Hunter. In that time we've had the game on handhelds and those have become really popular. When we decided to put Monster Hunter Tri out there, we were a little worried that people might not be interested in a console version. So, we actually very happy and pleased that people are this enthusiastic about the game. We didn't expect three to four hour lines, and we're sorry if there are people out there who can't get in. But we hope people will actually get to enjoy it anyway.
2. IGN: The original PS2 version sold pretty well -- at 500,000 to 800,000 units. But with the PSP, the sales have been going up, with 2nd G just having crossed the 2.5 million mark. Why do you think the series has taken off like this? What is the biggest factor that has made the series so big?
Tsujimoto: I'm actually asked this a lot. One of the big appeals of the game is that it appeals to many people on different levels. Of course, there are some people who just want to go through and clear it, but there are some people who want to go around and do this and that. There are a variety of things in the game that you can do.
Another area relating to the online aspect of the game, when you look at the number that we sold -- you said just now 2.5 million -- a good number of those are not hardcore users, but casual game players. So, one of the great things about this is that you can have a casual player who's maybe not so good, and you can team that person up with an expert monster hunter and through that connection the casual player will naturally become better. In this way, you have people teaching other people, and it gets bigger and bigger.
Also, in Japan, we hold Monster Hunter festivals and events, where people can come and meet other Monster Hunter players, creating an environment, a tight community, of Monster Hunter players. So, even after these events, when you go home, you'll want to invite other people to play with you, and you'll want to create your own little community at home. Again, it just builds upon itself, with people wanting to invite other people.
One of the things with Japan is that we've not gotten into the huge online boom that everyone else has. But, also in Japan, the number of people who actually call their friends and say, "come to my house and play" -- that kind of interactivity has gone down. We think that with the portable machines now, we've reintroduced that feeling of community, where you're able to play with other people without necessarily being, in the traditional sense, an online game.
Again, Japan has not had, in the traditional sense, an online gaming scene or community. And so, since we've built up this sort of community of MH players, we're hoping this will transfer to the Wii version where there's more of an online aspect in which you connect to the internet to connect to other people. By creating this feeling of wanting to play with other people again, this will hopefully transfer over to the Wii in a country where online gaming has not been that big.
3. IGN: On that point, the PS2 and PSP versions have very different forms of multiplayer. Which would you say is the "real" Monster Hunter experience -- sitting around by yourself in a room and playing with other players over the internet, or being within yelling distance of one-another?
Tsujimoto: It's not like one is more than the other. They're actually both, in their own way, true to the Monster Hunter spirit. We designed the game with each type of environment in mind. For the handheld games, we designed them more for a compact environment. For the console versions, we designed them more for online, where people are actually separated from one-another. We'll take a situation and look at it, and we'll say, okay, we'll put this in for the people who do like to play with each other, and then we'll put this aspect in this game for people who are more separated and apart.
It's much like talking on the phone versus talking with someone in person. The basic concept -- the enjoyment of talking with another person -- doesn't change. In that sense, Monster Hunter is like that. The enjoyment of playing Monster Hunter, the enjoyment of fighting monsters -- that doesn't change even if it's on the consoles versus being on the handhelds. We design the game with the machine in mind, so for people on the go, if they want to play something quick, then it's good for the portable, but if you want to sit at home and play on your big TV, then we've also designed it with respect to that.
4. IGN: The Wii version, of course, has both types of play, with the split screen. Were you hoping to totally replicate the PSP experience by making it four players?
We were considering it at one point, but for this type of game, with four-way split, the game would be hard to play -- hard to see, for instance. First, there was that barrier, so we made it two-player. With that, the game can be played without too much of a change of feeling, so we decided to try that first.
5. IGN: Is there a different type of gameplay between the split screen and online play in the Wii versions?
Yes, they're split up as modes. As for mode-specific quests and what-not, it's not decided yet. It's possible. We haven't finalized how to handle quests yet -- this is something that we'll be working on from here. That is a possibility.
6. IGN: Also with the Wii version, you announced Classic Controller support yesterday [during a Tokyo Game Show stage event]. Which control scheme do you prefer?
For me, it's the Wii-mote. With the Classic Controller, you have to sit in a very set position. But with the Wii-mote, you can do whatever you want. You can lounge, or you can even scratch your head -- it's just play as you wish.
One of the biggest concerns with players is, how do you not get tired. With this game, most quests last an hour, so an hour to two hour gameplay at minimum is expected. We've made sure that the play control is nice and easy and not tiring.
7. IGN: In addition to the Classic Controller support, you also announced yesterday some sort of system where the monsters appear to have more life?
Tsujimoto: In previous games, if a monster spotted you, all the monsters would come after you. But in this game, what we've done is we've created the monsters so that they'll fight each other even. They'll actually react to each other, and not just to the player presence.
In previous games, the monsters weren't really too defined, so a lot of monsters did stuff in reaction to things. But this time, a monster like the Kuripeko has the ability to mimic the calls of other monsters. It will call other monsters to its aid. These special unique aspects are something that we've incorporated into the new monsters. In this game, the monsters will really feel like they're separate species, and you can actually feel like there is the interaction of different species in this environment.
Before, you've always just thought, 'how do I attack this monster?' or 'how do I beat this monster?' Now, you have to take into account how the monster behaves, what kind of special adaptations it has, what kind of special abilities it has. Now, it's not just a simple matter of how you can just beat it. You have to actually use your head. It's more strategic. We think this will make the game a lot more interesting.
8. IGN: Do you think players need to communicate more?
In previous games, when you go from area to area, the areas reset. But in this game, the monsters will actually move around and migrate to different areas. So, it becomes vital for players to communicate with each other, because you'll have a situation where one area will change, and you can say "Oh, the monster is coming your way." This kind of information and communication become crucial to completing a quest. The little tiny monsters will also behave like that.
9. IGN: Would you say it's a seamless world?
This time, you still have individual areas. But, with the Wii, load times are fast. Compared to the series so far, you have top-level speed for the loading, so I don't think players will notice too much when moving between areas. The monsters move about seamlessly.