This review was originally written for 3DS Blessed, found here.
Videogame sequels walk a tightrope – especially ones in popular series. Developers have to decide if they want to build upon the past experience or forge a new one, and both choices have drawbacks.
A game too rigidly modelled after its predecessor risks stagnation. A game breaking new ground risks alienating an existing fandom.
With over a decade’s worth of games behind it, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate walks this same tightrope. There’s no doubt that it’s a bigger, better version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (like, duh), but does it stand out against the increasing numbers of rival Hunting Action titles out there?
The answer is yes – barely.
This review was originally written for One Hit Pixel, found here.
The Monster Hunter series sitting in Nintendo’s pocket left a hole in the PlayStation Portable’s heart. Monster Hunter’s style of mission-based multiplayer (often called Hunting Action) was a major draw to the Sony handheld. So when the PlayStation Vita arrived and Monster Hunter wasn’t around to claim its usual spot, a surge of competitors arose to take the throne.
And surprising everyone, Keiji Inafune got involved. Yeah, the Mega Man/Mighty No.9 guy. His entry, Soul Sacrifice, was one of the earliest titles for the Vita and it did… underwhelmingly. As with any new IP, it had teething problems.
The challenge in Monster Hunter is how limited your abilities can be – attacks are slow and leave you open. Running and dodging consumes stamina. You spend as much time chasing your target as you do fighting it.
Soul Sacrifice has its challenges, but they rarely overlap with the Monster Hunter framework. Your attacks are agile and rapid, you can run and roll indefinitely, and quests put you right up in the target’s face with no scouting required.
Ultimately, it wasn’t the exact experience veterans craved and that left it critically lacking.
Soul Sacrifice Delta is the result of a return to the drawing board – taking the base game and tweaking the mechanics but more importantly adding new content. While it didn’t magically become Monster Hunter in the transition, the experience has been polished to a sheen, enjoyable in a context wholly separate from its peers. In fact, the presence of Delta renders the first game thoroughly obsolete, and has, in a way, a second game’s worth of new things to play.