Monster Hunter is a game which I feel more people should play; how convenient that the latest iteration is being released on 3DS in the West this weekend, eh?
You often hear people hailing Shadow of the Colossus as one of those amazing games where every fight is a boss fight. Likewise, we all know of games like WoW where you kill beasts and turn them into weapons and armor to make bigger, better weapons and armor to take on bigger, better beasts. Marry the two ideas together and you have Monster Hunter: a plethora of weapon types, a massive catalog of weapons and armor, and an army of monsters from which to build them, married with a deep and rewarding multiplayer endgame. Monster Hunter, for all its actual simplicity, is a game which has incredible length, both online in the Guild Hall and solo doing quests for your village elders. There’s even a farm for you to tend to between epic bouts of being a badass, for those of you who want to get your Harvest Moon/Farmville on.
As much as I love Monster Hunter, every time a new game is released, you’ll hear me quietly sobbing in the corner knowing that it’s either another Nintendo exclusive, and I don’t want to buy a Wii U, or that it’s Japan exclusive, so my gaming circle refuses to play it. Fortunately, I have a 3DS, due to the relatively low cost and reliability of the console. Also, it has Pokémon. Which I like to remind people about whenever I get the chance.
In an effort to convince you to pay more attention to one of my favorite franchises of all time, and in the vain hope of getting a little more interest among Western gamers (traditionally, the series has struggled to gain much of a following outside of Japan), I present to you a list of the top 10 badass monsters from the franchise. Having poured about 1000 hours into the series over the years, these ones still make me swear every time I have to fight them alone – and cry silent anime tears of manhood every time I win.
Note – I won’t be featuring stuff like Fatalis, the big monster at the end of the first Monster Hunter game here. It’s basically just a big ol’ boring dragon that doesn’t do much except take damage. Likewise, Rathian and Rathalos, while pretty cool, aren’t badass enough to sit in this list. No, not even in their Silver and Gold forms…
10. Gigginox (Special mention: Khezu)
Wyverns that inhabit the Tundra, Gigginox live in darkness and thus have degraded vision; they detect their prey via body heat, then attack with poison. When excited, their color changes and parts of their body harden. They’re also extremely fertile, laying innumerable eggs.
Gigginox are blind, cave-dwelling wyverns which you’ll come across in one form or another fairly early into a Monster Hunter game. In some games it might by Khezu, which can electrocute and paralyse you; in other games, it might be Gigginox, Khezu’s nastier cousin which spits poison at you. The problem with this monster isn’t just the poison which rapidly saps your health. It can chill on the ceiling of the cave to avoid your blows, and belly flop onto unsuspecting Hunters, dealing massive damage. If you piss it off, its skin hardens and dulls your blade.
All in all, Gigginox are just class-A Dicks.
It looks like its double-headed, and indeed can attack you easily from both directions; but in actuality, one head is actually the tail, where it gives birth to live young. If you’re not careful, these little leeches will attach themselves to you and start sucking your blood. Now there’s a thought to give you nightmares, and one which Freud would have gone to town with. Always travel with a second hunter to help cut them off, otherwise you’re in for one heck of a fight.
Also known as fire-pike wyverns, Agnaktor use their tough beaks and great strength to burrow through rock, and sometimes even cave ceilings. Agnaktor are encrusted with hardened lava that can soften from the heat when they spit magma or burrow underground.
Agnaktor (Agnakti? Agnaktors?) are one of those monsters which make you smile, then make you frown, then make you swear. In that order. Not only do they wear lava as armor, they can burrow through the ground and attack you from the ceiling.
That said, Agnaktor aren’t actually hard to beat – they just frustrating. They camp in the lava where you can’t attack them without ranged weapons, and when they’re low on stamina, they flee to go feast on smaller monsters and recover their strength. If their armor is liquid, it burns you. If it’s solid, your blows bounce off until you break the armor. All in all, they’re more annoying than difficult.
Fortunately they only live in volcanoes; so if you feel the urge to go kill one, pack your finest fire-resistant gear.
Flying wyverns that have evolved to live in thickly wooded areas, Nargacuga stalk their prey from the shadows with ferocious speed and dogged tenacity, and their massive tails are as dexterous as they are deadly.
Think of a black panther. Now make it a wyvern. Now give it the face of a bat. Now make it faster. Now give it steroids. That’s Nargacuga, and that’s before you piss one off.
Not only are Nargacuga one of the faster monsters in the franchise, but they’re one of the meanest, too. They can fling large spikes from its tail which hurt like hell when they connect. Hit them enough times, and they’ll enter rage mode, where their eyes glow bright red, Terminator-style, leaving a trail of light to show you where you’re about to get blindsided from.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Nargacuga are nocturnal, and like to live in trees. They’re fantastic at sneaking up on you, and like to pounce and try to eat your face. Always carry sound bombs to throw in case your partner finds themselves trapped under one of these terrifying beasts.
Kushala Daora is a unique wyvern which hasn’t been spotted outside of the Japanese releases since Monster Hunter Freedom 2. It has the power of wind, which can blow back hunters and render you useless for a crucial few seconds while it swoops in to attack.
Also, its skin is made of metal, which rusts when the wyvern ages. This metal, combined with the fact that you can’t get close if it has its way, makes for an interesting battle at the best of times. I’m equal parts excited and terrified at the prospect of dulling my blade against it once more when Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is released this weekend.
Fanged wyverns whose bodies are streaked with electricity. Sharp claws and strong limbs allow them to thrive in mountainous terrain. During hunts, they gather numerous Thunderbugs to boost their power and enter a supercharged state.
Zinogre are the first wyvern breed in this list which can’t attack you from above. This is a good thing, because these things are a pig enough as it is without the extra threat of aerial attacks.
Zinogre have the irritating ability to collect and discharge static, electrocuting the hell out of you and your friends. If you see one summoning Thunderbugs towards itself, you have two options: either run in and try to deal massive damage to stop the summon, or run away to avoid the massive damage which you know you’re about to receive. Despite their hulking size, they are extremely agile, and have lots of sharp bits; let them enter rage mode, and those sharp bits will stick out even more…
Aww, it’s a unicorn…
No. Just no. There is nothing “aww” about Kirin. They’re a take on the Chinese Qilin– a beast so rare, so magically powerful that rhinos are still being poached today in the hopes that their horn might bestow upon the user its miraculous healing powers. Just like the legends of old, Monster Hunter‘s Kirin are something of a magical creature. And in Monster Hunter, magical monsters equal big fucking trouble.
To call Kirin difficult is to understate the fight quite dramatically. Not only do they gallop and trop around you like a demon, but they have this fantastic ability to not only lightning at you that actually damage you for just being near it. Also, no matter how good you are, no matter now sharp your blade is, your weapons just bounce off Kirin, leaving you huddled and crying on the floor as you break your PSP in half – before snapping the UMD in half for good measure.
There’s a trick to defeating Kirin, however. In MH2 it was the Death Stench – a powerful and mystical set of armor which effectively turned you into the Grim Reaper and let your blade pass through this damned thunder horse, allowing you to actually kill the damned thing. Much like Kushala Daora, I’m excited to take this on in MH4U.
The dreaded, nomadic Deviljho have no specific territory of their own. Their muscles swell if provoked, revealing old wounds. Needing to feed constantly due to high body heat, they can hunt nearby animals to extinction.
So I got to the end of the campaign in Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, and thought right – I’ve killed everything so far with relative ease. The Village Elder who gives you the quests turns around and says, effectively, “look, we’ve got this quest for you, but it’s gonna be a tough one.”
This should be alright, I think to myself. At worst it might do an inch of damage per hit, but I can take that.
One hit took off about 80% of my health. The second hit came 2 seconds later.
I died. A lot.
Deviljho are quite literally a brute wyvern type. They’re terrifying to look at, and they hit like a jackhammer. When they enter rage mode, they hit even harder, glowing with dark intent and showing off the scars left by those before you; one of them is still standing – remember that…
And Deviljho are the just the biggest of the relatively small monsters on this list. Remember that as one towers above you, before devouring your face.
A giant dragon, few have seen Lao-Shan Lung and lived to tell the tale. When one is the rampage it wreaks havoc on all in its path. The guild has built a fortress to repel the beast, but will it hold?
Examples of Lao-Shan haven’t been seen since 2009’s MH2 Freedom Unite – which is quite impressive, considering when you attack one, you can only really hit its foot. It’s also our first dragon on the list, and boy is it a big one…
in Freedom Unite, Lao-Shan likes to crawl along the ground towards your fortress where you get to attack it in the face with a giant drill called The Dragonator (got to love the weapon names in Monster Hunter). That still doesn’t tend to kill it – in fact, it’s impossible to kill in the first 25 minutes of the battle before you can Dragonate it – you can only repel it. The problem there is that unlike other monsters you repel, damage isn’t carried over between encounters. Kill it or don’t: it’s your choice.
2. Shen Gaoren
A giant Carapaceon with an equally giant monster’s skull on its back. Prone to roaming and fiercely territorial, any intruders will be met with opposition, so nearby forts or towns must be warned of their presence.
Shen Gaoren also haven’t been seen since 2009’s MH2 Freedom Unite – which is possibly a good thing, considering the size of them. I mean come on, they wear Lao-Shan skulls as armor.
Shen Gaorens are surprisingly passive. They’ll mostly ignore you as they proceed towards your fortress to destroy it. The plan here is to simply attack the foot until it collapses long enough to be hit in the face; definitely bring a friend to help you out though – there’s enough legs for 4 people to wail on them with.
Seriously though, Shen Gaoren is no laughing matter – Dragonate it and hit it with the fortress’ cannons if you can, and maybe you can repel it long enough to gather your strength for round 2. You may be able to kill it the second time around…
If you’re lucky.
1. Jhen Mohran
Rare ore can be mined from these enormous dragons’ backs; thus they are considered prosperity symbols. They swallow vast amounts of organic material and are always surrounded by scavenging Delex, which sailors use to locate them.
The pride of place goes to Jhen Mohran. These beasts are so freaking huge that you have to attack one from a boat. You can get on its back and start mining it for ore, and it doesn’t even notice. A Jhen Mohran is quite literally a beast. I won’t talk about the battle too much, as it’s truly an epic one every single time you do it – but yes, there is a Dragonator on the boat, and oh yes, it’s satisfying…
With hundreds of different species in the series, there are, of course, plenty of contenders that don’t feature here. I’d love to see what people consider their favorites.