Glistening reviews have been coming in from all corners for the highly anticipated Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate since its release a week ago. Citing the typically deep and complex, yet not totally inaccessible combat along with the diversity of weapon choices and the sheer daunting number of enemies to slay and things to do, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has seemingly improved over its already vaunted predecessor. Monster Hunter 4 also has had a not unusual, but slightly different journey to gamer’s 3DSs than some other games. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was released last week, but the game is a merely improved version of the original Monster Hunter 4 that was released in Japan in 2013. This got me wondering. I’ve always known that games often take this route of being released in Japan (where they’re conceived, designed, made, and released) so it’s always made sense to me. The part about this process that doesn’t necessarily make sense to me is how many games that get made and released in Japan that don’t make it to western shores. I wonder what the decision making process was like when it was decided to wait and buff up Monster Hunter 4 into Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. Why not just release the original when it was finished nigh on two years ago? I’m sure there are actual answers and this is just ignorance on my part, but it doesn’t seem to add up to me.
These thoughts made me wonder about how many other stellar games that Japan has come up with that we’ve missed out on. We were lucky enough to get titanic daunting games like Shadow of the Colossus and crazy frenetic action games like Super Smash Bros. (which is exactly the kind of wacky variety show-esque game that only Japan could conjure) from the Japanese, but what if there’s another game like Chrono Trigger or a crazy new Custom Robo that western audiences have been missing out on? Mother 3 is one such game. Mother 3 is an entry in the Earthbound series that the Japanese have adored since its debut. Released to critical and commercial acclaim in 2006 in Japan, Mother 3 was a smash hit. So why not release it to a broader audience? There are seemingly simple answers to this question beyond the financial and logistic realms. I think the most common answer would be that there is a difference in the culture in terms of what the Japanese like in their games versus what western gamers like, that the cultures are just too different from one another in certain areas. I think this is bogus. I don’t buy that for a second. I know that Americans would devour these games if they were released here and vice versa. I know that not all games released here are released in Japan because they’re supposedly too violent for a society that doesn’t necessarily appreciate that kind of thing the way that western gamers do.
This misconception would appear to be coming to an end, however. With technology allowing for unprecedented levels of communication between people all over the world, regardless of their geographic location, more people everywhere are becoming more exposed to new series, and games, and books, and everything in between. I think that Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is just the beginning of a new era in gaming where companies from all over the world will be more willing to take chances with their IPs when they see how incredibly successful they can be overseas. We can only hope that as the gaming industry grows bigger and bigger that more games will make their way stateside, to broaden the western gaming horizons because if I shoot any more brown people, I think they’re going to make some movie about me directed by Clint Eastwood with a fake baby or something.