Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto says the Wii U update is a logical fit based on Wii U's dual-screen setup. "When we decided to make the game on the Wii U, we actually brought out the game on 3DS first – the 3DS version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate came out in Japan about a year ago, so the game was designed from the very beginning to have that two-screen interaction. So when we made the game – although it was based on Monster Hunter Tri – we felt like we had put so much new content into the game that it deserved the chance to be played by more and more people. The Wii U was a perfect fit because of the fact it has the two screens and you're able to do cross-compatibility between the 3DS and the Wii U. It just made a lot of sense for us to bring that experience into the living room, into the HD realm."
Admittedly, I'm not a big Monster Hunter fan, but there's no denying the power of the Wii U GamePad as a tool to better facilitate dispatching gigantic beasts. Players can customize the entire touch screen, pulling elements from the game HUD down onto the GamePad – an obvious improvement only possible with the bigger touch-screen of the Wii U.
Easily the greatest use of this feature was inventory management, not particularly an exciting thing to talk about but perhaps one of the greatest issues facing monster slayers. When you've got a backpack full of 50 items and you desperately need to find that potion or suffer certain death, having a quick shortcut on the WiiPad is incredibly useful. In fact, this exact scenario saved my bacon when I was fighting this big lion-cat-bird thing.
"We made it so that you can customize the Wii U GamePad screen to how you want to play, so actually if you don't want to put anything on that second screen, you don't have to. So if you don't want the map on the main screen, you can put it on the Wii U GamePad, but if you just want to use the GamePad as a controller and look at the big screen, you can do that too. It's really all about providing player choice and making it possible for player's to customize it the way they want."
Networked play between the 3DS and Wii U platforms was a smooth experience. With three 3DS units and one Wii U player, we went on a quick hunt and slayed monsters with relative ease. Those who own the Wii U and 3DS games can transfer data between devices at any time.
But if you want to play on Wii U all by your lonesome, that's possible too – you just can't play on the GamePad only. This decision to omit off-TV play, one of the Wii U's most interesting features, was to maintain that two-screen experience, Tsujimoto told me.
Much like Capcom's previous 'Event Quests,' Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be bolstered by free DLC after the game launches. "In regards to new content people can be looking forward to, we're going to be releasing free DLC quests for players to enjoy. We definitely have a lot of free DLC content in the wings, prepared for the players out there; they can definitely look forward to enjoying new content frequently as the game goes on."
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate launches on the 3DS and Wii U March 22, 2013. A free demo will be available on both the 3DS and Wii U on February 21.