How much do you know about Monster Hunter? For many, Monster Hunter World could have been their first title. After all, it brought a single entry to multiple platforms and offered many adjustments that would make the formula more inviting to newcomers. But, the series has actually been around since 2004. In fact, the original Monster Hunter kicked things off on the PlayStation 2 and was one of the earlier games to really get PlayStation console owners playing online.
The First Hunt
When Capcom made the very first Monster Hunter, it was doing something it had never done before. It made a game that was an adventure where people had to actually go out on hunts, repeatedly do so to get better equipment, and gradually hone skills so they could rank up. It also was one of the earlier games where online activities were critical to the overall experience.
In this initial installment, people only had six weapons. There was the great sword, the hammer, the heavy bowgun, the lance, the light bowgun, and sword and shield. There were five ranks of armor, with only 43 sets available to make. Only 40 monsters appeared, and some were only available via the online missions. There were no Scoutflies to help you find anything. You could only collect items when on a mission and not venture into the wilds to explore. You didn’t even have a Felyne (or Palico) to help you out, as the companion system wasn’t introduced until Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.
Rather, it was all about you and the monsters. Or, if you were playing when its online option was actually accessible, you, up to three other people, and the monsters. Plus, it gave us Rathalos.
The Monster Hunter PS2 Legacy
The thing about Monster Hunter PS2 is that it ended up being a pretty divisive game. People in Japan loved it! They thought it was absolutely great. They enjoyed the flow and monsters available. Capcom eventually released the Monster Hunter G expansion a year later, adding monster subspecies, dual sword weapons under the sword and shield category, G-rank quests, a school, and other quality of life changes. Its servers even stayed online until July 2011, just over seven years after the game’s debut.
Outside of Japan, people didn’t end up digging it. The worldwide release was actually an improved version of it. While this didn’t mean all of the Monster Hunter G content was there, some of its improvements were. People who went into the Sword and Shield category could find some dual blades. You could auto-sort your items. However, since it didn’t take, its servers went down sooner. They closed in 2007, about three years after the North American debut and two after the European one.
Since the servers are down worldwide, this means people who pick up the original Monster Hunter PS2 release are getting a stripped down version of the experience. While current installments have mostly universal content, events aside, this one divided them up. You had Kokoto Village offline quests and Minegarde Town online ones. If you can’t go online, then you wouldn’t see creatures like Lao-Shan Lung. Also, it means all of the event quests from the past are inaccessible. Since there weren’t patches back then like there are now, it wasn’t like Capcom could push an update when the servers went down that gave people everything.
Appreciating the Past
There are certain games that are interesting, due to their nature as time capsules. Monster Hunter is an artifact from an earlier age. While it might not be as fun as Monster Hunter World, it helps us better understand and appreciate what the series has become. Unfortunately, it was never released digitally. It also wasn’t a huge success outside of Japan. This means finding copies isn’t necessarily difficult, but the prices can vary wildly. Expect to pay anywhere from $14 to $35 for a used copy. Also, its legacy lived on in Monster Hunter Freedom on the PSP and Monster Hunter G on the Wii.