Monster Hunter: Dynamic Hunting is a competent hack-and-slash title from the studio that brought the actual mega franchise to market. That’s a good sign. But, while all the mechanics are serviceable, in the early parts of the game, combat seems to suffer from weird design decisions that slow the frantic pace of battle it tries to conjure.

Over-the-shoulder perspective fighting games are nothing new on the App Store. Chair Entertainment, however, possesses the crown thanks to Infinity Blade [$2.99], a sharp and fast-moving action joint that prioritizes sword control. In that, you can hack wherever you desire and the movements will translate to the screen. Hunting doesn’t do this. You can only swipe your sword in two directions: north and south and east and west.

This is... odd because Hunting wants you to hit specific parts of the humungous monsters that it puts in front of you. In this sense, the game sort of requires accuracy, but the lack of fine sword movement makes this lofty requirement hard to fulfill. Instead of dancing around a monster and hacking at its ankles, I’ve instead been rolling almost aimlessly in circles until I accidentally slash at a behemoth’s legs.

To be fair, the early game, at least, isn’t so concerned with where you hit the monster, so long as you make contact. That makes this concern moot to an extent, but I think you can understand some of the frustration I’ve been experiencing -- I want to drill monster’s in their obvious ‘open’ places, but I can’t because I’m fumbling with a system not really built for you to exploit such fine details.

In addition to slashing, you can also pull off some defensive moves. By placing two tips on the screen, you’ll go into a guard pose. By swiping those two fingers, you’ll roll. If you slash after successfully pulling one of these moves off, you’ll perform a counter-attack, which are some of the most devastating moves in the game.

The study of monster habits is integral to the Monster Hunter experience, so that little fact nugget doesn’t come as much of a surprise. You’re supposed to know your foe and then act on its quirks or hesitations. And when you can conquer the sword and really get into the diving, guarding, and countering the game feels great -- it clicks.

The loot and grind components are fantastic drivers in the early going. You don’t level up in this specific joint, but you do earn loot from monsters each time you defeat them, which can then be used to make even better weapons and armor. Some of the enemies in the game are absolutely vicious, so it relies on this hooking you. As you beat more monsters, you can unlock more weapons to build, so I’m looking at this as the “leveling” component.

I think there is a hearty caveat that I should note about the guard and counter mechanics, though, and it ties into the game’s hearty UI. The entire bottom quarter of the screen is obscured by your health bar and the like, so when you place two fingers, you’re really eating up screen space and obscuring possible counter cues that may arise.

We’ll be doing a full review on Hunting in the near future and I encourage you to give that write-up a look. For this impressions piece, I’ve taken a narrow glance at the battle system in first "chapter," so you're not getting the full story here.

Who knows? Maybe there's a pivot point that can sway my opinion of the battle or maybe there's good justification for the rigidness and design decisions. Definitely check back with us later to get the full run-down of what Hunting as a complete product.

App Store Link: Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting, $4.99 - Available in the USA at 11:00 PM Eastern, earlier in other regions.

  • john doe

    I'm more interested to know how similar it is to the existing MH franchise? I own two of the PSP games, and enjoy them to an extent.

    • Bobopanda

      It's little like the actual mh otter than it has the same "plot" so to say you collect parts and upgrade weapons but there's only one area an it's a constant battle with the monster with a time limit of around 2-3 minutes also it has a ranking system After the quest based on: time(how long it took to kill), parts(how many monster parts you broke/tail cut), life(how much life you lost), and then mission bonus which i'm not sure of what it is of someone could enlighten me that would be great. So again it's a monster hunter but with quick short time span action which is exactly whats needed for a mobile game, short and sweet.

  • Klouud

    I don't want a mini game - I want full exploration like in the PSP version - comments?

  • Skye629

    I'm gonna wait for a sale I'll cash up $3 tops just to hear the theme and see the monsters on my phone......I'll continue playing Freedom Unite on my PSP till the next one is released in the US....

  • Andydoane

    Did you try it on an iPad yet? I saw that it said it wasn't "guaranteed" to work on an iPad.

    • Onigiri

       it worked well on ipad 2

  • http://twitter.com/omicron123 Christopher M

    Please tell me Gameloft is planning to clone this franchise. Gameloft could probably do it justice.

    This just seems like a half-baked cash-in effort - as if they couldn't be bothered to port the addictive magic to iPhone, so we're stuck with this junk. If they put Monster Hunter (in all its glory) on the iPhone, I would buy it without a second glance. This? Probably not.

    Seriously, developers, don't just clone Infinity Blade. Give us PROPER games!

    • Anonymous

      It's not like Infinity Blade at all though. It's a mix of the arena quests from MH and stuff like EX and super moves like a fighter. You still run around the arena freely so it has a good feel.

      I'd prefer a real MH too,but Japanese devs move slowly so I guess we have to start somewher, and. I bought this game to send capcom a message that yes we do like MH on iOS and want more.

    • mrtz

      you seriously complain about capcom cloning infinity blade etc and say gameloft could do it justice? gameloft's only skill _is_ cloning!

      • http://twitter.com/omicron123 Christopher M

        I'm not complaining that Capcom cloned something. I'm complaining about WHAT Capcom cloned.

        Infinity Blade is not the right thing to copy in this case - it misses all the grandeur and fun of exploration, gathering, and crafting that marked Monster Hunter's prior incarnations.

        Gameloft would clone the gameplay of Monster Hunter, and produce a full-featured, if rather small and ugly, game in a new franchise. Capcom has taken an existing  franchise and appended it to Infinity Blade's limited gameplay, resulting in nothing more than a timewasting minigame.

      • Bobopanda

        Umm sorry but I you look at the app store an check the top 25 that's what you'll see... A TIME WASTING MINI-GAME that's what makes a mobile game! It needs to be short and sweet. Take little time to get the hang of and appeal to the popular audience. Sure there are some exceptions like chaos rings and some rpgs in the store but even those have been watered down a lot from their predecessors to be quicker and satisfying in a short amount of time because that's what's needed for a mobile game to be successful I honestly think capcom made a wise move here with trying to appeal to a wide population so that it may introduce gamers to the series and may make them buy a full fledged mh game.

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  • Keth

    Could be an OK game, but im not sure what they were thinking making ridiculous controls like that... Failing to dodge 9 out of 10 times

  • http://www.facebook.com/PDawgy Jorim Nathaniel Palmer

    I have an iPod 2g MC model. Crashes when I enter my first battle. Guess I'll wait for an update.

    • Keth

      good luck with that... "“Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting” will only run on iPhone 3GS / iPhone 4, iPod touch 3rd Gen or more"

      • http://www.facebook.com/PDawgy Jorim Nathaniel Palmer

        Bah.. Time to upgrade my device. I was fooled when I read this: Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.1 or later." But realized my device wasn't supported when I read the game details...

  • Mgs2ss

    Come on, Capcom.  Give us a REAL Monster Hunter on the 3DS!  I hate that I still have to play my PSP from time to time to get my portable MH fix.

  • Lukes-awesomee

    i hav a ipod touch 3rd gen, full updated, and the game crashed ? when i click depart on quest the screen goes black and i end up at my home screen again :( help me?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2TCN4ALC3T7HA3BA24232WOV6I Matthew Keith

    Game is awesome just bought  it played through level 1 and is great as far as I can see. Fun pick up and play action game.

  • Velakarenkate

    will it run in iphone 3g? ... we downloaded it and it only played until the 1st battle... how come we were able to install it but cant play :?

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