Monster Hunter is really, really fun. It's a series of A.R.P.G. (Action Role Play Game) games.
Monster Hunter games follow a similar, but vastly improving, style. First you create your own Hunter and you hunt down, fight, and slay (or capture, if you are playing a Capture Quest) monsters. The Monsters, upon defeat can be "carved" for materials needed to build armor and weapons to further customize your character. There are normally two gauges in the top left corner: Health Gauge and Stamina Gauge. Health Gauge shows how many hits you can take before "dying" (even though it's funny watching the cat-like NPC's known as Felynes carry your character to the Base Camp). Stamina determines how many times you can roll (or perform evasive maneuvers, for that matter) and/or how long you can keep sprinting, which dramatically increases running speed. Perfect if you are being chased by something out of your league.
You get a delightfully large arsenal of weapons to smite monsters with. Here is a list of the weapons I know of. NOTE: My experience with the weapons come from Third Generation weapons. And two Fourth Generation weapons. However the Fourth Generation is strictly Japan Only. How do I know about those Japan Only weapons? Wikipedia is the answer to any question you can think of. Figuratively speaking of course, not literally.
- Sword and Shield - This weapon is the weapon you start with in almost every Monster Hunter game (the only exception is Monster Hunter 4, exclusive to Japan). This weapon is fast, but most Sword and Shield weapons lack attack power. Unless properly upgraded, of course. It consists of a small sword in the left hand, and a small shield in the right hand. Both can be used for attacks.
- Great Sword - This weapon is my personal favorite. It's a large, heavy sword. Heavy, but slow. But what it lacks in speed it makes up for it's powerful attacks (some of the moves can be charged for additional damage!!!!). If properly upgraded, the Great sword can be the most powerful weapon in the game you are using it in.
- Hammer - A heavy hammer. It's faster than the Great Sword, but still a bit slow. This weapon can charge attacks, like the Great Sword, but unlike the Great Sword, you can still run around while charging. It also causes impact damage, which can stun monsters for a while if you hit them in the head enough times.
- Lance - A long heavy spear (or lance) AND a shield the size of a wall? That is the Lance. It's one of, if not the longest reaching close quarters weapon. It even has a stampede attack!!! Well, actually it's called the Dash, but anyway it cause your hunter to run straight ahead. Perfect for catching up the fleeing monsters or landing several hits. It drains Stamina though. It also has a uppercut for hitting airborne targets.
- Gun-Lance - Similar to the Lance, the Gun-Lance has the ability to cause explosions at the tip of the weapon. A lot of newcomers think that the Gun-Lance can fire projectiles when in reality it is incapable of doing so. Unless one count's the "Wyvern Fire" move to be a projectile, but it is simply an explosion four times the size of the normal explosions.
- Dual Sword - the fastest weapon in Monster Hunter. It looks cool and has a habit of attacking twice in one button press. It looks like it requires mashing the attack button over and over, but just press three times to get what you want. It can also power up for more moves.
- Long Sword - These swords look like Japanese Ninja Katana Swords!!!! They even come with a sheath. The sheath is cosmetic though and is simply for decorative purposes. Some of the moves it has are evasive. It also has a Spirit Combo where if press the "Block" button five times when the Spirit Gauge (only visible in the Long Sword is equipped) is full to pull off a awesome seven hit combo (the final hit causes a LOT of damage!)!
- Bowgun - These weapons can fire several kinds of ammo!!! From normal bullets to Pierce S rounds that can slice through a monster's hide as if it was nothing!!!! Or Para S bullets that paralyze monsters!!!! Or even elemental bullets that cause all sorts a weird things to happen!!! All Bowguns have three seperate components: Frame, which determines the weight and attack power of the round being fired, Barrel, which actually fires the rounds, and the Stock, which holds ammo. The Weight determines the type. Heavy Bowguns are perfect for snipers, Light is perfect for those who wish to "bring the hurt" with firepower while keeping a safe distance.
- Switch Axe - A Two in One weapon. In Axe Mode it has long reaching attacks but lacks impressive attack power. But with the press of a button, it transforms into Sword Mode!!! The Axe head is lowered and a medium length super sharp sword takes it's place. You want to stay in Sword Mode at all times, unless the vial on the sword needs to be recharge, in which case you want to be in Axe mode until it is fully recharged. Did I forget to mention that while in Sword mode you can cause elemental damage with each swing? It also has a overload attack where the tip of the blade causes a epic explosion!!!!
- Bow - This weapon is perfect for those who love archery. It can shoot arrows (which have coatings that cause various side effects in addition to damage), and you can use your next arrow as a dagger for close range attacks.
- Hunting Horn - Fight Monsters with the power of Music!!!! Every physical hit gives you a music note (which appears at the top left corner, just below the Stamina Gauge, the kind of attack determines the color of the note). Press a certain button when you have enough notes for a song and something cool happens (the color and combination of the notes determines what happens. Like two white notes equals a boost to your running speed.).
- Insect Rod - This weapon is Japan Exclusive. Basically a "bo" staff that causes cutting damage and impact damage, making it a cross between the Dual Swords and the Hammer. And true to the name, the Insect Rod gives you a giant beetle to command. You can send it to fight monsters for you!!!! Just mark the monster with a "pheromone bullet" and the beetle will strike the exact point of impact between the monster, and the bullet.
- Charge Axe - This is another Japan Only weapon. Basically a bigger, stronger, more effective version of the Switch Axe. This weapon is also a bit reversed. Instead of staying in Sword mode at all times with the Switch Axe, you want to be in Axe Mode at all times with the Charge Axe.
In addition to the weapons I listed above, there are also a few disposable items that can make fighting monsters (especially larger monsters) a bit easier. Here is a list.
- Flash Bombs - Hand thrown grenades that cause a blinding flash to appear. Throw it at monsters to blind them. WARNING: Does not work on monsters that do not have eyes, such as the Gigginox.
- Sonic Bomb - A hand thrown bomb that causes deafening sound-waves upon exploding. Use it to stun some monsters and make others monsters retreat.
- Dung Bomb - One of the weirdest bombs in the series, the Dung Bomb emits a foul odor when detonated. Monsters can't tolerate the smell for long and retreat to put some distance between it and the point of explosion. Use it to scare away unwanted attention.
- Pitfall Traps - perfect for Capture Quests. When a Large Monster steps on it, it gets trapped in a hole in the ground. It cannot do anything until it crawls out of said hole. WARNING: Does not work underwater. It also does not work on the Nibelsnarf monster. It also will not work on monsters categorized as Elder Dragon Class.
- Shock Traps - Similar to the Pitfall Trap, Shock Traps activate when a large monster steps on it. However, when activated, they cover the monster in electricity, paralyzing it in the process. When a Monster in wounded and in this trap or the Pitfall Trap, you can through a Tranq-Bomb to capture the monster, thus completing the Capture Quest.
- Potions - Restores a moderate amount of your Health Gauge. These are vital to success.
- Mega Potions - Restores twice as much health as the normal Potion. This is perhaps the most important disposable item in the franchise.
- Antidote - Cures Poison. I probably should have mention earlier that some monsters, such as the Gigginox can poison your character. Poison eats away at your Health Gauge until you drink the Antidote.
- Pickaxe, Bug Net, and Fish Bait - These three tools can be used to mine for ore (Pickaxe), Catch insects (Bug Net), and go fishing (Fish Bait. WARNING: Some Fish will only respond to certain kinds of bait).
Another reoccurring feat about Monster Hunter is that there are a several environments with different monsters, and different themes (complete with a different set of rules). Like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate has the Tundra, which lowers your character's Stamina unless the bring a few Warm Drinks to raise his/her body temperature. Likewise, the Volcano in the same game will cause your character to overheat, losing Health in the process. This can be prevented by bringing, and consuming, Cold Drinks.
The series has several monsters, each with unique abilities. Here is a list of a few notable monsters. (NOTE: because full voice acting is absent in exchange for speech boxes, most of these monster's names have no pronunciation whatsoever. You are welcome to try pronouncing the names if you want).
- Lagiacrus - This is the first large monster you encounter if you are playing a Third Generation game. Leviathan class. In Monster Hunter 3 Tri/Ultimate's (they have the same story) story, Moga Village is plagued with earthquakes. Sadly the earthquakes are anything but natural as the tremors are thought to be caused by the Lagiacrus. It would make sense because the Lagiacrus is huge, happens to be and aquatic ambush predator, and Moga Village is literally built on top of the water. The Lagiacrus is first seen in the Quest "Guts: it's What's for Dinner", but the player is told to AVOID engaging the Lagiacrus at all costs, and continue with the objective.
- Alatreon - Monster Hunter Tri/Ultimate's "Final" Boss. Even though more Monsters are unlocked after defeating it for the first time. Elder Dragon Class. This Monster is a elementally unstable dragon. It looks like a giant black classic European Dragon. With the horns of a Bull. It has a Flame attack, Ice attack, Thunder attack, and even a Dragon attack. Projectiles launched from monsters are elemental and can cause Blights, which weakens you hunter in some way. Because of it's "muilti-element" nature, It would be VERY difficult to get a armor set that can easily withstand the punishment Alatreon brings with it's dangerously unpredictable moves.
- Gigginox - This monster is by far the weirdest looking. It looks like a cross between a bat and a leech. With the head of a leech, the everything else of a bat, no hair whatsoever, and a tail that looks identical to the head. It's movements are so alien and creepy not a single monster comes close to matching it's movements. It crawls around on the ceiling!!! Almost all of it's moves will poison your character. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate introduced a yellow subspecies that instead of poisoning your character, paralyzes your character. When you recover from the paralysis you get Thunder-Blight, which means that you might be stunned by the next attack.
- Nibelsnarf - This monster by far has the most funny sounding name. Despite the fact that it is Leviathan Class, it does not swim (Every other Leviathan Class Monster lives underwater). Well, at least not in water. It swims through it's sandy home in the desert as if the sand was water. It looks like a giant frog. Covered in sand. it even has the ability to shoot a tornado made of sand out of it's mouth. Not only does it send your character flying, it also infects your character with Water-Blight. Water-Blight drains the Stamina Gauge faster. This Monster is the only one with a uvula. They gave it a uvula because when fighting the Nibelsnarf, the only thing you see is it's mouth. Which takes up most of it's body.
- Rathalos - This monster is perhaps the most appearing monster in the franchise. It made it's debut in the very first Monster Hunter game and has appeared in EVERY game since. It looks like a dragon, but it is actually Flying Wyvern Class, not Elder Dragon Class. It has a tougher, rarer variation called the Azure Rathalos which is blue in color, and gives up the materials needed to make tougher and stronger armor.
There are plenty of monsters besides the ones I named, and Quests that involve slaying or capturing (or both) just about all of them. Also there are quests that involve collecting things such as plants. WARNING: All Quests have a Time Limit. Good news is there is a thing called Free Hunt which enables you to "Hunt at your own pace" by removing time limits. Free Hunt Mode also enables you to fights monster for the fun of it (after all, bashing monsters, slicing and dicing, and "laying the smack-down" on monsters twenty times the size of your character is fun. At least for me) Also you can fail a Quest by "dying" three times. Some Quests only allow one death. And other quests are failed as soon as you die.
for more info, videos, and screen shots, please go to GameStop.com or Nintendo.com (for Monster Hunter Tri and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate only.).