On September 10th, the Monster Hunter spinoff Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Airou Village was released in Japan. (モンハン日記 ぽかぽかアイルー村 DX Monhan Nikki Poka Poka Airū Mura DX) I had the game pre-downloaded and ready, and as promised, I’ll give you my first impressions.
Luckily I found a couple of gamers on GameFaq who had also taken an interest in the game, because a lot of text in the game is in Kanji ( the Chinese looking symbols) and they are much more difficult, if not impossible for me to translate. So I had quite a lot of help watching the first two hours of play through on YouTube( Video here ) and by the comments made by fellow gamers on the forum.
First of all, the game is super cute. The felines are adorable creatures, all new to me as I never played the main Monster Hunter series aside from some demos. The visuals are good, colorful, exactly the way I like them. The load times, going from one area to the next, do seem a bit long for me, but not annoyingly so. There’s a lot of text, and it’s a pity I can’t understand what they are saying, as I’ve been told that it’s quite funny.
You start off with a small village and not a lot to do, but as the days progress ( there’s an in-game clock that runs a lot quicker then ours!) you unlock more and more areas and things to do. One of the first things to unlock was building a pier, from which you can catch fish. A good thing too, as the fish are a nice steady source of income. Strangely enough you have to catch more then fish, today I caught a bug net that way! You can forage everywhere, finding useful things and sometimes special stuff. You can fish, farm and mine in the game, but in a different way then what I had expected. You always have to give the feline at the facility some item first: you have to give the farm feline fertilizer, give the miner feline oil for his lamp. After you do, you get a number of times where you can mine or farm. With bait you can fish 20 times I think, so this all works a bit differently then in let’s say a Rune Factory game. It doesn’t feel like you have to do an effort to farm or mine, if you know what I mean.
All felines you meet have quests for you. There’s older lady feline, who you can talk to to bring new villagers to the village, provided that you collect certain items. A lot of them are fetch and bring quests, but some involve more. Like the one feline who wears a pig or poogie hat, who likes to see you riding a poogie ( after you first have to find it). The little pig isn’t hard to find, made me smile as it seems to be wearing a diaper. Such a cute little creature, riding it is a joy too, galloping and jumping around. I haven’t reached that part yet, but I think there will be poogie races later on!
An important part of progressing in the game is Culture Shock. Got me confused at first, but one of the forum members kindly explained that it means when your little character learns something new and (to him) astonishing. You get a comic book kind of exclamation on your screen, and culture points are added to your total. If you have earned enough culture points you are able to buy a new facility, the first one is the guild tent. Having the guild means you can now accept Village quests. For the first one you have to defeat two Velocopry, and while you run a sort of course the game gives you tips about which buttons to push for various actions. You will find things you can eat to get stronger, and find resources to pick up. At first, it seemed a sort of platform running to get to the other end, but after practicing a bit I think I’m getting the hang of it.