If you ever needed a summary of proof that Monster Hunter is huge in Japan, this Wall Street Journal article would be it. The international financial newspaper credits the incredible success of the PSP in Japan over the past year to Monster Hunter. It outlines the appeal of the series, summarizing the mechanics of the game which allow a group of friends play together in co-op mode to battle monsters and gather materials for weapons and armor.

Writer Yukari Iwatani Kane asserts that the Japanese are "uncomfortable with the idea of playing video games with strangers over the Internet," and Capcom "overcame that hurdle" by incorporating the Ad Hoc mode on the PSP into Monster Hunter. This brought in unconventional fans such as a 37-year-old Tokyo architect who held a "weekend retreat" with his 14 friends, which included a doctor and corporate executives, to play Monster Hunter together. Members of fan-sites such as Oyaji Hunters (Old Geezer Hunters in Japanese) "participate in regularly scheduled face-to-face get-togethers."

Statistics obtained by the WSJ from Enterbrain Inc. shows that as of June 8th, 9.3 million PSPs were sold in Japan, compared with 4.75 million units in February of 2007 before the release of the first PSP Monster Hunter game. The combined sales of the two games have reached almost 4 million, and they are the only PSP games that have sold more than one million copies in Japan -- Kane attributes these sales partly to the fact that each player needs one copy of the game to play together. The article finally ends with some negative observations, stating that "Capcom hasn't made a serious effort to market the games in the U.S." and noting that the next Monster Hunter game will be on the Wii, rather than the PS3.

Though the article makes some legitimate points, it is hard to trust someone that contradicts herself ("uncomfortable with the idea of playing video games with strangers" vs. "participate in regularly scheduled face-to-face get-togethers") lists "Evil May Cry" as a popular Capcom series.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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