monster hunter stories

The Monster Hunter Stories Duology Has Found New Life On Modern Consoles

Free from a handheld prison.

When Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin launched in 2021, it was clear that CAPCOM had another hit spin-off on their hands. Its novel RPG mechanics and a deceptively simple combat system made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience for series veterans, and an approachable RPG for newcomers. Unfortunately, Wings of Ruin would be hamstrung by its limited platform availability. While the PC version was fantastic, the Nintendo Switch version was and still is riddled with performance issues and slowdown.

The first game is similarly limited by its platform exclusivity. Originally launching on the 3DS in 2016, Monster Hunter Stories was promising beginning for this spin-off series. Despite being well-received, the game hasn’t been freed of its handheld prison, only seeing a high-definition mobile port in 2018. The rapid growth of Monster Hunter World and Monster Hunter Rise have brought swathes of new fans into the fold, so it only makes sense that these charming spin-offs receive modernised and readily-available ports.

I’ve spent a good amount of time with both the new Switch version of the original Monster Hunter Stories, as well as the PS4 version of Monster Hunter Stories 2, so let’s dive into how each of them fares in their new homes.

monster hunter stories

Monster Hunter Stories on Nintendo Switch

Monster Hunter Stories is undoubtedly the game that fans are most interested in. It’s far from a stretch to call this edition of the game a remaster, featuring full voice acting, HD visuals, new content, an in-game museum, and content previously locked to the Japanese version of the 3DS original. Furthermore, this version of the game is going to be available on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

While I haven’t played the PC or PS4 version of this enhanced port, the Switch version of Monster Hunter Stories is simply fantastic. Gone are the jaggy, pixelated edges of character models and environments, replaced by much more high-definition assets. It closely mirrors the distinct smoothness of its sequel both inside and outside of combat. It really reinvigorates the whole experience from a visual perspective and pulls it in line with the standard set by Stories 2.

monster hunter stories

I’m also pleased to report that despite sharing a similar level of visual fidelity as its sequel, Monster Hunter Stories runs like a dream on the Switch. While turn-based RPGs aren’t as reliant on high frame rates, it goes a long way when it comes to overall presentation and the flow of combat. It just makes the whole experience feel more complete and well-rounded, while shedding the technical baggage that comes with the restraints of older hardware.

The gameplay here remains completely untouched, which is for the best. The original Monster Hunter Stories is undoubtedly more simplified than its sequel, but there’s a charm to the loop of collecting and training up Monsties to tackle new threats. There’s a real love and attention to detail put into each interpretation of series favourite monsters and how they fit into a turn-based combat structure. It’s an entirely different kind of take on the Monster Hunter world, a take that’s aged remarkably well.

monster hunter stories

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The package is rounded out with the aforementioned Museum Mode and the inclusion of content previously exclusive to the Japanese release. There’s over 200 pieces of concept art, character design, and music tracks that are previously unreleased. It’s just packed with interesting design tidbits and insights into how the team handled Monster Hunter mainstays with a new art direction. The additional content also adds a bunch to the experience, with new Monsties to recruit and post-game challenges to tackle.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 on PS4

While Monster Hunter Stories 2’s port is a less impressive package in totality, that’s because there isn’t much here to improve on. A lot of what I said in my review of the PC version in 2021 rings true for the PS4 version, it’s a sequel that does everything its predecessor did, only better. While it sports the same visual style as the original, the jump in detail across the board meant that the Switch struggled to deliver a consistent experience in terms of performance, limiting platform options to PC for those who didn’t want to put up with the issues.

The PS4 version remedies this, providing a near-identical experience on the PS4 and PS5 to what’s offered on the PC version currently. It might lack the uncapped framerate, but more than makes up for it by holding a steady 60 frames-per-second throughout the whole experience – a far cry from what the Switch could achieve. Again, it isn’t something that’s entirely necessary for a turn-based RPG, but does so much for the moment-to-moment experience and overall game feel.

monster hunter stories

This is all at no concession to the visual fidelity of Monster Hunter Stories 2. CAPCOM always had a winner on their hands when it came to the art style and direction of the original, but the sequel really takes it to the next level. It’s deeply colourful and wildly varied in its environments, and the attention to detail on Monstie and character models make the game’s presentation one of its strongest elements.

The game side of things is yet again, completely untouched. Offering the same enjoyable turn-based combat and Monstie customisation as the original, coupled with new combat features, weapon types, and a healthy addition of new Monsties to befriend and recruit. It’s undoubtedly the better game of the two, but playing them back-to-back has made it clear that Stories 2 is much easier than the first game despite growing in mechanical complexity.

monster hunter stories

My time so far with the enhanced ports of this duology has me excited to see newer Monster Hunter fans jump into these charming spin-offs for the first time. It’s always been a shame that each has been limited in terms of platforms until now, but it’s clear that CAPCOM have gone out of their way to improve each experience where possible to make them the definitive version of each game.

Monster Hunter Stories and Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin both launch on June 14th. The former will be available on PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch while the latter will be releasing on PS4, and is already available on PC and Nintendo Switch.