App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Having snuck out on mobile in Japan last year, Monster Hunter Stories may come as a bit of a shock to those unfamiliar with the games already. Its 'no spoon-feeding' mentality will be a joy for some and utter turn-off for others, but that's half the fun isn't it?
While it's easy to praise the game for a number of different factors, it doesn't escape with a clean record. No, even behind its shiny, high-quality exterior, there's a few issues that lessen the enjoyment.
In Monster Hunter Stories, you play as an unseasoned Rider just starting off in the gig. You customise your character, pick a name, and off you go in this JRPG adventure to collect monster eggs and beat up the adults.
A Rider's job is to catch eggs, have them bond with you, and then bring them on your journeys so you can ride them and battle them against other monsters. Aside from taking on your main mission – to confront dark forces plaguing the land – you've also got a huge amount of side quests to complete for people in your village.
Out and about you can harvest all sorts of herbs, honey, and more to help you make potions, and help find all of the missing Poogies (adorable NPC pigs in costumes). The more Monsties you hatch, the more you'll be able to explore as some areas are only reachable through your monsters' special ability.
The lands beyond the village are wide and expansive with plenty of Monsties roaming about, ready for a fight. Battles are turn-based as opposed to the usual dodge-manic fights in traditional Monster Hunter games, and can be won with ease by remembering specific details.
So long as you fill your battle pouch with herbs, you'll have plenty of opportunity to heal you or your Monstie. You also need to consider the three attack-types: Power, Speed, and Tech, and which one you should use to best your opponent. You'll be nursing some bruises if you choose the wrong move.
Hear me roar
This won't be too much of a welcome experience for fans of the series who want a proper Monster Hunter experience on mobile. No, this is a simplified version with combat on the shallower end of things, and it can leave you wanting.
There's so much to get a grip on in the beginning it's almost dizzying and hard to really remember every sliver of information, but that's to be expected. At the beginning things trudge along slowly as you get through its lengthy tutorial, but eventually you get to explore on your own.
The land itself, though beautifully done, does feel rather bare at times and after a short while it becomes more of a chore than a joy to travel. Of course, any whiff of tedium is easily resolved by taking a break for a little bit.
That being said, Monster Hunter Stories features every drop of content in the original 3DS game and performs fantastically, to boot. Having played it on iPad Pro, I'm finding it hard to think of another mobile game that has felt this silky to play on touchscreen.
Though MiFi controller support would be very welcome, you don't feel like you're missing out or struggling by any means. You can run or walk, helping you to control slippery feet, move with a floating stick on the left of the screen and look about with the right.
For what it does struggle with, this is still one of the finest experiences you'll find on the current market with hours upon hours or adventuring to be had. It might get a bit repetitive, sure, but its story and witty characters really make that premium price worth paying.