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Preparation (H)unt

Small miracles

Qurupeco1

A Qurupeco is much easier to kill than capture. I learned this lesson the hard way.

Recently, three intrepid monster hunters and I set off to bag this feisty beast on a quest called "Tracking the Trickster" - an apt description given this creature's ability to mimic the cries of others monsters, thus summoning them to fight on his behalf. When you battle an evasive Qurupeco, you must also prepare to face any other monsters that happen to be in the vicinity, including the deadly Rathian, a fire-breathing wyvern with poison-filled tail spikes. Did I mention the Qurupeco also spits balls of mucus that lower your defenses?

Capturing a Qurupeco requires careful strategy and a coordinated effort to pursue him (he has a nasty habit of dragging you all over the map). You must wear him down, identify his moment of weakness, stun him in place, and finally trap him. If one of you stumbles or fails to properly spring the trap, he will evade, recover, and force you to start all over again. In my monster hunting party, I was the stumbler.

Twice, over the course of forty frantic minutes, I screwed up and we missed our opportunity. The first time I threw the trap too soon; the second, I threw my last tranquilizer and missed. Both times our limping Qurupeco got away, one or more of us died (having used up our potions), and we failed our mission.

Deposited back at the tavern for the third time, I nervously braced for an assault of "F*&%ING NOOB!" invectives, but our leader - a far more experienced player named Keegan - would have none of it. "This city welcomes beginners, and beginners make mistakes. One more try?" If my wife and I ever have another child, we will surely name him Keegan. [Put down the phone, Mom, we're not having any more kids.]

Monster Hunter Tri is the game I've been waiting for since Phantasy Star Online's star sadly faded with the demise of the Dreamcast. In fact, it's the game I've been waiting for on several fronts: 1) a true successor to PSO's captivating offline/online experience; 2) an accessible, but not dumbed-down Monster Hunter game; 3) a genuinely compelling, lag-free online game for the Wii with a sensible and easy-to-use matchmaking system. Is it just me, or is this game like a small miracle?

When you discover yourself mentally grinding on a game while you should be focused on other things, that's when you know a game has you firmly in its clutches. Returning home from a bike ride yesterday, I suddenly realized I had no memory of where I'd been. My whole time pedaling that bike was spent deliberating on which weapon would give me the best chance of beating the underwater Ludroth that did me in a few hours earlier. Such is life as Moga Village's resident monster hunter. People are depending on me to figure this stuff out.

I have more to say about this game than a single post can contain. In my next post I'll try to explain how this Monster Hunter game builds a bridge to gamers intrigued by the series' phenomenal popularity in Japan, but put off by its high barriers to entry in previous iterations. I'm sure I'll also have more tales to tell and conquests to brag about. That Keegan fellow, he has my back.

(This MH3 commercial is pretty funny, by the way.)

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