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PixlChatter: Monster Hunter 3 Part Two

The saga continues!

Kathrine: What's next on the list?

Jason: Bowguns! This is your part. =P

Kathrine: Bowguns are separate from weapons?

Jason: Almost. It's a part of weapons, and they're different, and I've never used one.

Kathrine: They are pretty different from every other weapon.

Jason: Right. I've never used one. I don't like to shoot people so much.

Kathrine: First off, you have to buy three different parts of the gun, and combine them. Each part has its own stats, and different types of shots it can use.

Jason: Yes, but how do they work...?

Kathrine: It can sometimes be difficult to put a good one together, because you have to look at the stats of each part, which you can't do side-by-side, and figure out what they add up to.

Jason: Ah, scratch my last question.

Kathrine: I'm still not sure how the attack stat is formulated or how it relates to each ammo type, so that part, at least to me, is mostly guesswork.

Jason: Again, the manual has left a bit to be desired.

Kathrine: In addition to that, you can't use the same armour that you use for every other weapon, you have to create a weaker, Gunner-class set.

Jason: Oh, true, we'll talk about most of the forging soon. But basically, if you want to use a bowgun and any other weapon, you have to have gathered twice the number of materials.

Kathrine: With the various bowgun parts, ammunition, and different armour, bowgunning is very expensive.

Jason:And that just means it's more of a grind.

Kathrine: It's a huge grind.

Jason: That's the real reason why I don't do it, there's too much going on to play as one.

Kathrine: I'd say it is more than twice the grind.

Jason: With all the bullets, yeah!

Kathrine: You have to create or buy the ammo. Buying is easier. Most combining for ammo gives you one bullet.

Jason: So, in return for providing an extra set of gear, you take more damage and have to make bullets. Or buy 'em, it's just expensive, and probably a very difficult way to start out the game.

Kathrine: Yes, you have about half the defense, maybe a little less.

Jason: Not to mention if you ever play anything solo, by yourself, as a bowgunner, you're going to be in trouble.

Kathrine: It is difficult to shoot a monster who is always targeting you.

Jason: And unfortunately, in single player, they only target you.

Kathrine: Also, range affects power too.

Jason: Does it?

Kathrine: You have to be 2-3 dodge rolls away to get the most damage. If you are more than 10 rolls away, the bullets disappear. No long-range sniping.

Jason: Oh, yeah, each bowgun design has different ranges depending on the model.

Kathrine: It does? Is that a hidden stat?

Jason: No, I don't believe so, but it could be. Maybe it's something you have to point at the screen with the Wii-Remote to see?

Editor's Note: Turns out the range stat is a part of all bowguns, easily found in the games, and surprisingly enough in the manual.

Kathrine: I don't know how the bowgun range stat affects the shot, but that's one more thing to take into consideration, making the bowgun the most complicated weapon with the least reward.

Jason: I'd say that very much could be the case.

Kathrine: Is the bowgun the only weapon you haven't tried yet? I've never tried the long sword or switch axe.

Jason: Hmmm... Actually, the lance is the other one.

Kathrine: Never?

Jason: Never! Big shields are for women and little boys =P

Kathrine: You're just upset because you went through all your potions on Barioth before I even used my first-aids.

Jason: At least I didn't die three times when we fought Rathian and Rathalos with that other dude.

Kathrine: See? Each weapon has its strengths and weaknesses. Lance doesn’t do multiple monsters well.

Jason: Because if you get hit in the back, you're screwed?

Kathrine: Yes.

Jason: Indeed.

Kathrine: Or side.

Jason: Right. Time to move on, hmm?

Kathrine: What's up next?

Jason: Let's go with camera or controls. Any preference?

Kathrine: They aren't too dissimilar, camera has bad control... Whichever.

Jason: That's exactly why I want to do them together. Start with control, then move on to camera, then?

Kathrine: It could work.

Jason: All right. So, then, that leads us to controlling the weapons. I'd say it's both good and bad, but each weapon has it's own set of controls. In the least, it's certainly a bit confusing, but also allows for a bit of variety.

Kathrine: Good because of the variety of attacks, bad because switching from one to the other can be confusing.

Jason: Fortunately, in most control set-ups, button controls are similar. For instance, the "Y" button uses items, the "X" button is the base attack button for Classic Controller 1. However, some weapons use "R" to shield, while others use it for special attacks, and oddly enough, the "+" button is used in several attacks for several weapons. I'd say anything that uses the + button in regular gameplay, with its awkward position, doesn't really make good use of the controller.

Kathrine: It seems like "+" should have been for items.

Jason: I agree, that would definitely fit better than to make it an attack button. Instead, for some reason, the "Sheath" button and the item button are mapped to the y button. Which becomes entirely too confusing.

Kathrine: I also feel the same button should have been used for blocking and rolling.

Jason: What the game really needs is more comprehensive controller customization.

Kathrine: I've accidentally used items several times because of that.

Jason: Me too, especially starting out. There's three control set-ups, one with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and two with the classic controller. Honestly, I've only stuck to the first classic controller one, though, since the second classic controller config assigns the camera to the D-pad, and I know I definitely don't want to do that.

Kathrine: I don't see how you could comfortably do that unless your hand were shaped like a claw.

Jason: Actually, that's what Monster Hunter veterans call that control set-up. "The Claw" For instance, lances can only do a certain kind of counter that way, from what I've read.

Kathrine: That's how people get arthritis.

Jason: All I know is that it certainly wouldn't help if you did have arthritis!

Kathrine: I haven't even tried the other controller setups.

Jason: I've read about them, mostly. I think it's time to talk about the Wii Remote/Classic Controller crossover functionality!

Kathrine: Oh joy.

Jason: You can start us off =P

Kathrine: I'll try. *ahem* The pointer of the Wii Remote is used to register monsters, as well as on certain status screens to get more information. So you have to take your hand off the controller, and pick up the Wii Remote, leaving you with limited mobility. This issue could have been solved had the Classic Controller had a clip on the back to install the Wii Remote... but why am I blaming Nintendo on this one?

Jason: Capcom really screwed up with this control choice. Why not let you just controller the pointer with the right stick when you go to one of those modes? Actually, when you do go to that mode, the right stick doesn't do anything anyway.

Kathrine: There is an option to use the D-pad to control the on-screen reticule.

Jason: Sure, but that option means the D-pad of the Wii Remote! Why have the option if you still are forced to use the Wii Remote?

Kathrine: Are you serious?

Jason: You already know this, stop being facetious =P

Kathrine: I know but I still can't believe it. Wow.

Jason: Yeah, so no matter what, if you want to register monsters in the databook thing to earn more information about them, you've got to let go of the controller with one hand and pick up the Wii Remote. And, hey, don't forget you can also point the Wii Remote at the screen on menus to get more information!

Kathrine: You can't control the camera when the book is open, so if the monster goes behind you, you're in trouble.

Jason: Right, which perplexes me about the right stick even more. Oh, don't even get me started on the camera!

Kathrine: Oh but I will!

Jason: Oh no! Oh no! So, to begin with, and I know others have criticized the game for the same thing, but there's no lock-on button. And I'm not talking an attack lock-on. I'm talking just about a camera lock, so the camera sticks on to whatever giant monster you're fighting... Which means babysitting. Babysitting the camera for every twist and turn. Monster flies high into the air? Well, you'll have to follow it, and if you don't, chances are, you'll get hit.

Editor's Note: The camera has a few set heights it can be positioned in, and by follow it, it's meant that the player has to both adjust the camera towards the sky, and often enough, run to a different position in order for the monster to be visible.

Jason: There's no reason not to have a camera lock in a title like this in this generation, really. And so this is another case where I feel the game hasn't evolved.

Kathrine: It is annoying for sure, but I've learned to adapt to that issue for the most part.

Jason: Sure, but there are times underwater where things just get confusing.

Kathrine: The thing that really bothers me about the camera is that you can't zoom out.

Jason: And yes, absolutely, the camera can get stuck on any solid object in the game. Any wall or monster can block the camera's movements...

Kathrine: A lot of the monsters are huge, it is entirely too common for your character to be obscured by monster butt.

Jason: So in those fights where you get close to a monster, especially some of the bigger ones, the camera just goes bonkers trying to find a place to sit and watch. A zoomed-out mode would definitely get rid of that problem and provide a bit of needed perspective.

Kathrine: Especially if you're fighting two monsters and one of them goes down, then you have a nice huge corpse to block the camera.

Jason: Oh, and let's not forget... The camera has two speeds: Slow and slower. There've been times I literally couldn't keep up with the monster, particularly underwater. Basically, the camera really has two speeds. So pressing the stick halfway and all the way down does nothing to speed it up.

Kathrine: It's like Capcom had no confidence that people could press the analogue stick halfway if they wanted to move the camera slowly.

Jason: Right, and the same is true all the way if you want to move it quickly!

Kathrine: At least there is a button to center it behind your character!

Jason: True, but only if you tap it just right. Otherwise, it won't center. It would be nice if holding the button kept it right behind your character the whole time.

Kathrine: They could have made such a button be ZL or ZR. Both are unused.

Jason: Not completely unused!

Kathrine: Oh really?

Jason: Under water, they do a dodge upward and a dodge downward, respectively.

Kathrine: I never knew that.

Jason: Above ground, though, they've got no use, which is too bad, considering how awkward other buttons are. Anyway, let's move on to items!

Kathrine: Different than item use?

Jason: Same thing. Speaking of awkward... Using virtually any item in the game results in a temporary eating time, followed by a "Flexing" animation. What's up with that? Did Capcom just want to punish players for using items around large monsters?

Kathrine: I thought it was kind of funny the first couple times I saw it, but now it is nothing but an annoying period of vulnerability.

Jason: Exactly! Especially since you can just leave the area.

Kathrine: It's why I always dread having to stop the fight to heal, because it usually results in a chain... Use potion, get hit while flexing, have to use another potion, get hit while flexing...

Jason: Right, so it just punishes people who don't feel like running out

Kathrine: The fact that you have to sheath your weapon also limits the usefulness of many support items. Things like the various bombs and throwing items aren't worth the time to sheath your weapon and use. If they could be combined with regular attacks, they could serve a purpose.

Jason: Right. So using an item really means you must sheath, a few-seconds long, then you must use the item. So using an item takes about five seconds, and given how quick the monsters are, that can mean death. Not to mention, weapons lose sharpness and have to have an item used to maintain sharpness and keep up strength! That item takes even longer to use! While I can definitely see it's in the name of strategy, the reality is, the item usage time is just a way to remove control from the player to add artificial difficulty.

Kathrine: Even hammers need sharpening. Care to explain that one?

Jason: Oh, yeah, when you sharpen a hammer, you sharpen the handle. That's just weird!

Kathrine: Same with the lance, you don't sharpen the tip. At least bowguns don't need sharpening.

Jason: That's true... That would be weird. It's just odd, and another way to add artificial difficulty, quite like the fight I was talking about before with the giant monster.

Kathrine: I also think it is weird that you can't use items from the menu.

Jason: The game seems full of stuff like that, by the way. Monster roars make you pause. Things underground stun you, there's actual stunning attacks, etc.

Kathrine: What's weird is, when your character is covering their ears from a roar, their weapon is always sheathed...

Jason: True, I forgot about that, the weapon is sheathed, then instantly unsheathed, it's one of the rare occasions where animations aren't fluid, unfortunately.

Jason: It seems like every chance the game gets, including items, sheathing, and everything else, it removes the player from control, which is really unfortunate.

Kathrine: Getting stunned also makes you sheath your weapon, which, for people with a shield, often spells trouble.

Jason: And for people without one, it's actually good news, making it easier to dodge out of being stunned... but to bring this back to items, there's been several times I've tried to sheath after being stunned, and wound up using an item, causing me to be hit again!

Kathrine: Been there. I've also used items when I get hit by a monster when I go to sheath my weapon, and think it wasn't sheathed because I got hit.

Jason: Right, because it's tough to tell, once you've been interrupted, whether or not the action you were in the middle of went through. I think a lot of the problems with items hearken back to control problems, really. Again, I'd say this is another example where it just feels like the game is a stale title that hasn't converted to more or less modern conventions.

Kathrine: Isn't that common of Japanese RPG-style games? I mean look at Dragon Warrior.

Jason: For some it is, for some it isn't. Dragon Warrior has had some changes over the years, but as a series, it's relatively stagnant. I've seen a lot of Pokémon comparisons, too, but even with Pokémon, from each true generation to the next, the battle system almost always has something that changes the fundamentals of how the players play the game. So it does fit in with other Japanese styled RPGs.

Kathrine: In any case, I think the archaic design is the main reason the series has never been popular in North America.

Jason: Probably so, I have to agree. That and the grinding. Wow, the two of us have just reached the high rank, which is basically the game's "Hard" mode, and it's just downright annoying.

Kathrine: Well, grinding falls under archaic design, it was the artificial way to extend game length on the NES. You played Dragon Warrior right? :P

Jason: Yup, and I accidentally chose a three-letter name, which I later found out meant lower stats at each level up. Indeed, I'd say it's archaic design, though.

Kathrine: I accidentally entered no name, it greatly affected me negatively.

Jason: When you fight a boss monster about 20 times to have enough materials to make a full set of their armor, it's just no fun... but since monsters do so much damage, there's really no other alternative but to fight one or two that many times.

Kathrine: Then you likely end up playing all those quests again so your online friend roster can acquire that armour.

Jason: Well, sure. At a lot of points, I've wished they did like they do in the Arena mode, and supply a pre-set option for people of lower rank. Just something, I know most of the people I've wanted to play with haven't reached my rank, which means I've got to re-grind everything below me to help them get up higher, after I've already grinded for the materials I need.

Kathrine: I'm one such person.

Jason: Let's not forget rare drops. The truth is, I could still use some of the items from those lower quests... They're just so uncommon, there'll be something with a 2, 3, or 4 percent chance of dropping! That means upwards of 25-50 fights with this monster could be about how long before you find the one item you might need...

Kathrine: Are we sure this game wasn't designed as an insanity test?

Jason: Oh, but wait! I've needed one of the rare items three or four times! And, again, if you also use a bowgun, guess what? You'll need it even more times for your armor! Yay!

Kathrine: I guess the trick there is to try and find armour that doesn't use the rare stuff.

Jason: Sure, I did that once. I needed to find over 30 of the non-rare item to get it. Again, I have a hard time seeing the fun in doing the same mission ten or twenty times in a row, just to get gear, but advancement just isn't possible without it.

Kathrine: I can't really offer any insight there. I'm not really a fan of RPGs so I don't understand the appeal of a game such as this.

Jason: While that might be an obstacle in some RPGs, I don't believe I've ever seen this type of grind in a non-competitive game, really. I suppose it might be relatable to breeding good Pokémon, but at least then, you can battle other people with those.

What do you say, move on? The final stretch!



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