April 25, 2010

Lazy Sunday – Hunting The Great Jaggi

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 1:00 pm

Monster Hunter Tri
I’ve been feeling out Monster Hunter Tri’s offline offerings this week, certain that I’ve fallen miles behind plenty of other players, but taking it in stride while grinding through Guild quests that slow expectations through some typical “go-fetch” requests, which have had plenty of influence in keeping my sessions with the game on the short side.

Gathering mushrooms, retrieving a few bits of monster guts, killing off a handful of smaller beasts – the game assures the player this is all essential training for up-and-coming hunters, likely to the aggravation of veterans, and leaving me at first rushing through those tasks without striking any hot sparks simply to raise my rank.

It wasn’t until accepting the challenge of hunting a Great Jaggi last night that my outlook started to improve. This was the first solo quest that really made me consider there might be more to this hunting business, specifically in the act of living outside the village, sent to an outpost to survive while tracking a reasonably cunning beast.

I say reasonably because, like most videogame beasts of burden, the Great Jaggi likes to charge in head first, striking out at me and swinging its massive tail to knock me off my feet, all to give a chance for the many smaller Jaggies and Jaggia summoned by the commotion and call of their Alpha to feast on my fallen flesh.

Monster Hunter Tri
For the uninitiated, the Great Jaggi is the big evolution on the more common female Jaggia and male Jaggi, a species leaning heavily toward the dinosaur side of the monster food chain. These smaller kin will often form a shield around the great beast, screeching like a pack of hyenas. And they’ll also be injured by the beast as it tries to strike out at me and hits them instead, one of the games many small quirks that increasingly made the hunt something worth writing down.

In short this is when I felt like I was really hunting and not just passing through, feeling more confident that monster hunting isn’t a phenomenon to be written off as better suited to Japan.

Monster Hunter Tri

I went into the mountains with a modestly upgraded bone sword, which may have been less than wise, but I’ve had zero patience for learning how to swing a large sword properly – which are enormous and caused my character to fall over a few times during my first attempt at wielding it.

I’ve had better luck with the bowgun, but so far I prefer the up-close and personal feel of a smaller sword, which offers a quicker dodge and stab approach to battle.

I really wasn’t impressed with the controls at first either, which feel heavy in a land of invisible walls and quick moving enemies.

Experimenting with different weapons to find the controls so different toward mastering each one leaves more to consider – it’s clear that I need to get out of a lazy hack and slash habit I’ve developed and put more time into the controls for each weapon.

With the shorter sword the controls remind me of a recent play-though with Phantasy Star Zero, stabbing and dodging and swinging the camera around to achieve something workable, but still wanting for a better way to move through a 3D space. As with many, many games before it, the controls are manageable, but still offer moments of aggravation – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve launched a combo attack at thin air.

Monster Hunter Tri
I found the great Jaggi in a clearing with a few smaller males, though it quickly called for more, with Jaggi and Jaggia rushing in to defend it in a blur of claws and teeth that does a pretty convincing job of filling the screen. An instant element of rejoicing comes from the fact that defeated enemies don’t simply turn into resource pellets, but instead allow the player to carve out items from the corpse, even dazing some to harvest different items in a catch and release fashion – but enemy bodies can disappear quickly enough that this is also frustrating at times.

So anyway, me and the Great Jaggi danced, me dodging his charges and laying in a few headshots, discovering that I could block some tail whips with aptly timed use of my shield. I kept dodging the smaller monsters, allowing Great Jaggi to continually smack them unconscious in its increasingly desperate attempts to kill me. And after more than a few of these exchanges, the bugger backed off, roared, and proceeded to run away, deeper into the caverns of the mountain.

I knew that retreat was a possibility, because the village elder had mentioned it, and it was the entire reason I’d thrown a paintball at the creature before drawing my sword, which marks its location on the map for a short amount of time. And yet, to actually have to pursue the monster was the first instance in which I really grasped the idea of the monster hunting part of the game – this being the first one I’ve ever played.

Monster Hunter Tri
It seemed sensible to finish off the few stragglers that hadn’t followed and take a breather, pulling out a whetstone to sharpen my sword – which likes to go dull a lot – and cook up some meat on the portable barbecue – which seems to work best if you stop it right when the music ends by the way.

Following the Great Jaggi into the caverns started the whole dance over again, but it wasn’t long before a blow achieved the sub-quest of wounding its head. From that point on the creature seemed legitimately wounded – stumbling while still working at charges, dragging itself from the screen as it ran into a hole I couldn’t follow it through to escape. This is also when I realized paintballs have a shelf life and had no clue where the monster was, leaving me to move from location to location looking for it, getting attacked by stray Jaggi along the way.

Monster Hunter Tri
Eventually I found the monster, sleeping amongst a pile of bones and guarded by sentries that I dodged and swung a torch at while quickly running up to gain a few more headshots on the beast before it rose in a fury. This went on for quite awhile, with breaks for more food and herbs to keep my stamina and health up – and always sharpening that damn sword.

This is about the point where I began giving more appreciation to a game I’d normally ignore – I’m just more anime sci-fi at the end of the day. Pursuing this monster, with the possibility always present that it might elude or escape, given the set amount of time I had to kill it within, created a situation where there was nothing else in the game that mattered but me and this beast and our quest to kill one another.

All the item management and endless tasks the game offered, which I thought would be the focus, just fell away to the narrative of the hunt. It was so damn satisfying to watch the beast finally go down, swiveling and shrieking before finally hitting the ground and staying there. And it wasn’t a guilty moment, like slaying a Colossus – as if I’d taken something unquestionably magical from the world.

This was one of those hunter respect scenarios that Predator’s shriek about. I hadn’t cheated this beast of its life, I’d played by its rules, tracked and stalked it, wore it down, and ultimately prevailed.

The thought that this is only scratching the surface of what the game has to offer me this week with more hunts and exploring the online aspect, well I honestly didn’t expect to be enthusiastic about looking deeper into any of that, but here we are.


  1. And to thinkg that unless I get the game as a gift I won’t be able to play MH3 until the last trimester… do enjoy the game in behalf of those of us who can’t.

    Comment by EdEN — April 25, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

  2. Nice. I started playing through the single player (I’m not as interested in multi-player games) campaign myself this weekend. The line about launching combo attacks at thin air made me laugh. I was doing that plenty!

    I can’t figure out the “pointer” controls and getting the monster info from it though. :\ I’m using the new Classic Controller Pro that came with the game but it still asks you to use the Wiimote pointer somehow… I find the button layout weird however and think it’ll take time to get used to. I kept using items when I was trying to do something else like take out my sword.

    The fast disappearing bodies is tough too, because you can’t carve them up when you’re being attacked and if you fight the other monsters instead of salvaging resources they are gone. Then again using items is difficult when monsters are attacking as well. I accidentally dropped some of my raw meat and was unable (or didn’t know how to…) pick it back up…

    Once I’ve got enough into the game I’d love to try it out online, maybe we can hunt some Jaggi together! I haven’t even looked at how the online part works yet, do you need friend codes? I guess I should find a USB hub so I can hook up the WiiSpeak thingy that came with Endless Ocean 2 (which is funny because I am afraid to play that game…)

    That brings me to the part of the main quest in Monster Hunter Tri, hunting that GINORMOUS Sea Dragon! I’m too scared to hunt anything in the water! Ahhh! I imagine there will be a point in this game that I get to that will require me to go into the ocean to hunt some monsters and I’ll stop playing. But until then… I’ll be trying to get some cool ass armor and hunting these land carnivores for food & profit! :)

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — April 26, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  3. I’m using the new classic controller as well, was equally confused at first but I figured that pointer bit out eventually. When you see some monsters you open your monster notes so that the book is in the corner of the screen, and then you actually still use the wiimote and aim it at the monster in question and click and drag it down to the book.

    We definitely gotta hook up for some hunting! I don’t have WiiSpeak though so it’ll be a quiet adventure on my end :(

    Comment by Jamie Love — April 26, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  4. Great summary of what those first, tentative steps into Monster Hunting really feel like. Don’t be afraid to take the game at your own pace. Thankfully when you are ready to venture online the community is one of the nicest ones I have ever experienced.

    Comment by Michelle — May 6, 2010 @ 7:23 am

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