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The Best Pokémon Knockoff of the Century Just Landed on Nintendo Switch

Still a lot of adorable fun.

Monster Hunter Stories
Capcom
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For most of its two decades of existence, the Monster Hunter series offered a simple if alluring premise: fight the monsters, defeat the monsters, and turn the monsters into powerful potion. It’s a gameplay cycle that’s served the franchise well, but in 2016, Capcom decided to try something new with the Monster Hunter games. And that new thing was Pokémon.

Originally released for Nintendo 3DS, Monster Hunter Stories was a major change for the franchise (albeit one that didn’t necessarily stick in the long run). Inspired by Pokémon, the game strived for a more symbiotic relationship between humans and monsters in which the protagonist with the job title of “Rider” is tasked with collecting monster egg fragments, hatching new besties, an then battling them against wild monsters or online opponents.

Now, in a major win for both Monster Hunter and Pokemon fans alike, Stories is available on Nintendo Switch with a fresh coat of paint and some other nice quality of life enhancements. Here’s why this remaster is worth checking out.

Upgraded for Nintendo Switch

The game’s cutscenes look particularly excellent in this Nintendo Switch remaster.

Capcom

This Nintendo Switch remaster is is the perfect opportunity to get into Monster Hunter Stories. The game’s 3DS era graphics are enhanced for the current console generation. There are a few rough spots (while picking up items and pilfering treasure chests, I noticed my character would sometimes start glitching), but for the most part, the graphics have been upscaled perfectly. The game’s cutscenes, in particular, are improved with Pixar-esque majesty.

An emotive new voiceover cast (available in English or Japanese) also punches-up what can sometimes be an overly instructive script.

“That's why to you, I must implore,” says the stout and bearded Chief Omna, who looks like a Legend of Zelda gnome and speaks in Zelda riddles. “Never forget love and amor!”

As an added bonus, the Monster Hunter Stories remaster also features several monsters that were previously exclusive to Japan, including the gnarled dragon Teostra, the armored Kushala Daora, and the hairy chimera Rajang.

Monster Hunter Meets Pokémon

Stories feels like a natural extension of Monster Hunter's unforgiving saga.

Capcom

Ultimately, the universal truths about love, friendship, and nature that form the core of Monster Hunter Stories give it a universal appeal — even if it sometimes feels like an attempt to imitate Pokémon.

While other recent games like Palworld and Temtem pay tribute to Pokémon's eclectic creatures by copy-and-pasting them into slightly tweaked universes, Monster Hunter Stories benefits from being grounded in its own franchise. By the time Stories arrived, the series had already built a vibrant world teeming with unique fauna. In this sense, Stories feels more like a natural (and cuter) extension of Monster Hunter's unforgiving saga.

The game's turn-based combat works as a simplified version of Pokémon's core battles.

Capcom

That said, Monster Hunter Stories is still pretty Pokémon. The game's turn-based combat works as a simplified version of Pokémon's core battles. While pitting one of your monster companions against another creature, you'll have three types of possible attacks: power, speed, and technical. Any of these attack types may trigger a “head-to-head,” a more intense battle round that could either inflict additional damage on your enemy or cause a draw. You can somewhat anticipate these head-to-heads by predicting your enemy's next move, but they aren't always obvious so battles typically contain a level of novelty.

Successful battling with your companion monster increases your Kinship level, which in turn strengthens your Kinship Skills special attacks. If you prefer a more pacifist kind of bonding, don't worry. You'll also be urged to nurture your companion “Monstie” while pursuing an overarching quest to stop the Black Blight, a dark mist that corrupts susceptible monsters and can infect entire villages.

But, while Stories does have a heartwarming plot paced well with Final Fantasy-esque drama, it's not the real draw of Monster Hunter Stories. The game's appeal is in its fun and energetic interpretation of Pokémon, which nonetheless manages to feel proudly Monster Hunter — especially with the upgrades included in its Nintendo Switch port.

Monster Hunter Stories Is Available Now on Nintendo Switch.

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