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Monster Hunter is a video game franchise edited by Capcom in which the player controls a hunter in a wild world inhabited by a large variety of monsters, ranging from knee-high cat-like creatures to gigantic ecosystem-shaping dragons. As a hunter, the player is tasked with hunting down dangerous monsters, collecting their parts in the process. The newly acquired parts allow the player to craft a better gear, allowing one to hunt stronger monsters, which in turn grants access to even better gear, and so on.
The series is well known in the gaming community for the depth of its gameplay, its inventive monster design as well as its challenge, often providing players with a sense of accomplishment upon defeating a powerful monster. Monster Hunter gained a large following online over the years, especially after the release of World in January 2018 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which eventually sold more than 17 million copies worldwide  (including the PC version released in Summer 2018).
The first installment of the series, simply titled Monster Hunter, was released on PlayStation 2 on March 11th, 2004 in Japan, September 21st on the same year for North America, and finally May 27th, 2005 for Europe. It received mixed to positive reviews (scoring 68% on Metacritic), most critics praising the graphics and the online multiplayer but criticizing the controls and the interface.
The original Monster Hunter would soon receive an expansion, called Monster Hunter G, which was released exclusively in Japan on January 20, 2005. This version, which provided both new content and gameplay improvements, started the tradition of each major game getting an expansion and served as the basis for Monster Hunter Freedom (also known as MHF1) on the PlayStation Portable. Released on December 1st, 2005 in Japan, Monster Hunter Freedom was a surprising commercial success, as this port quickly outperformed the sales of both PS2 games released at the time and became one of the most successful PSP games in Japan. Monster Hunter Freedom was eventually released in the West on May 12th, 2006 in Europe and May 23th, 2006 in Northern America.
The second main game, Monster Hunter 2 (occasionnaly called Monster Hunter Dos), was released for the PS2 on February 16th, 2006 in Japan, but did not make it to the West. This second installment added several new weapons and many new monsters, in addition to expanding the categories of monsters by adding fanged beasts (Monster Hunter's equivalent of mammals) and carapaceons (Monster Hunter's equivalent of crustaceans). Monster Hunter 2 was later ported as Monster Hunter Freedom 2 (also known as MHF2) on the PSP with some content and gameplay changes. Released on February 22th, 2007 in Japan, Monster Hunter Freedom 2 was a even greater commercial success than MHF1, selling more than 2 million copies. Contrary to Dos, it was released in the West on August 28th, 2007 in Northern America and September 7th, 2007 in Europe. MHF2 received slightly better reviews than past games (scoring 72% on Metacritic), most reviews criticizing the loading times and the absence of online multiplayer. The former issue would be eventually mitigated in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite (known as MHFU among fans and as Monster Hunter Freedom 2nd G in Japan), an expansion to MHF2 comparable to Monster Hunter G which also added a Felyne (i.e., a bipedal, smart cat-like creature) companion, i.e., an AI-controlled Felyne character that assists the player during hunts to distract monsters or to heal the player. Both these changes were very well received, allowing MHFU to become the first Monster Hunter game to receive a score above 80% on Metacritic. MHFU was also a huge commercial success in Japan, becoming practically a cultural phenomenon with 3.5 million copies sold (only in Japan) by July 2009.
The third major installment in the series, Monster Hunter 3 (also known as Monster Hunter Tri) was released for the Nintendo Wii on August 1st, 2009 in Japan, April 20th, 2010 in Northern America and 23th, 2010 in Europe. It was received favorably (scoring 84% on Metacritic) and eventually became the most successful Monster Hunter game for home consoles at the time, selling 1.9 million copies as of summer 2012, benefitting from the increasingly positive reception of the series, the free online multiplayer and the marketing efforts of Nintendo for the Western release. The popular sub-reddit r/MonsterHunter was in fact created shortly after Tri's release in the West, and has garnered almost half a million of members as of June 2021. MH3 was also the game where Team Darkside, a famous group of Monster Hunter speedrunners, was initially formed, motivating a tribute video in December 2020 (shown below). MH3 (or MHTri) would become the basis for Monster Hunter Portable 3rd on PSP, which was released exclusively in Japan on December 1st, 2010. Both MH3 and MHP3rd would be expanded upon by Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (also known as MH3U among fans and as Monster Hunter 3G in Japan), released for both the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo Wii U in March 2013 in the West. Both MHP3rd and MH3U outperformed MH3 in terms of sales, the former selling more than 4.7 million copies (still only in Japan).
Due to its success on portable devices, the series would be developed almost exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS for half a decade, starting with Monster Hunter 4 (MH4), which was released only in Japan on September 14th, 2013. Western players eventually discovered this episode via the expansion, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (a.k.a. MH4U and Monster Hunter 4G in Japan), which sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, but was also the first episode in the series to ship more than one million copies in the West as well as the most acclaimed entry at the time, scoring 86% on Metacritic. A "best of" game, Monster Hunter Generations (also known as Monster Hunter Cross or MHX in Japan), was also released for the Nintendo 3DS on November 28th, 2015 in Japan and on July 15th, 2016 in the West with similar sales and reception. Its expansion, called Monster Hunter XX in Japan (released on March 18th, 2017 in Japan), only became available in the west as Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate (or MHGU) for the Nintendo Switch on August 28th, 2018.
The series eventually came back to home consoles with Monster Hunter World (or MHW), released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 26, 2018 and on August 9, 2018 on PC. Not only this episode offers drastic technical improvements over previous installments (such as environments no longer behind chunked in several zones), but it also thoroughly improved the interface, controls and tutorials, in addition to putting a greater emphasis on the story. It is therefore much easier to approach as a newcomer, and attracted a vast amount of new players towards the series. The success was also criticial, as MHW scored 90% on Metacritic, though some longtime fans criticized the story, the frequent tutorials and the lack of challenge in the endgame (hence why the user score is a bit lower than usual). The latter would be eventually fixed with free DLCs and the Iceborne expansion, released worldwide on September 6th, 2019 on both PS4 and Xbox One and on January 9th, 2020 on PC. MHW quickly became the most successful entry in the series, having sold more than 17 million copies worldwide and being also the first entry to sell more copies in the West than in Japan. MHW also has its own dedicated sub-reddit, r/MonsterHunterWorld, which has garnered 463k members since its creation in June 2017 (shortly after its announcement), i.e., nearly as many members as the r/MonsterHunter subreddit. The many improvements brought by MHW would later be reused in Monster Hunter Rise (MHR), a new episode released for the Nintendo Switch on March 26th, 2021 (which will also be released on PC in 2022). Not only MHR reuses gameplay/interface elements from MHW, but it also introduces more verticality in the gameplay and a dozen of new unique monsters all based on Japanese folklore. By the end of May 2021, more than 7 million copies have been shipped.
Monster Hunter also has (or had) its MMO equivalent on PC (but also various consoles, depending on the version), known as Monster Hunter Frontier (or MHF). Initially derived from MH2, MHFO evolved in its own way over the years, featuring a large amount of unique monsters, a unique weapon (the tonfa) and getting frequent updates. However, Capcom never published MHF outside Asia, making it barely known within the Western MH community. It was terminated on December 18, 2019.
Many non-official terms coined by fans became widely spread on boards dedicated to the series.
- Cart / to cart: one of the oldest terms used by fans, cart refers to how a hunter who just fainted against a monster is brought back to the camp from where (s)he started the quest, i.e., transported by Felynes (bipedal cats) on a wooden cart. A cart therefore denotes a single fainting, hunters being usually allowed to have up to three before failing a quest for good. To cart is to faint against a monster.
- Fashion hunter / fashion hunting: a fashion hunter denotes a hunter who intentionally mixes pieces of different armor sets for aesthetical purposes, at the cost of having (potentially) less interesting armor skills. Originally a niche trend, fashion hunting became popular starting from Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, due to the game introducing an endgame mechanic for reskinning armor pieces with the aesthetics of other pieces (a.k.a. transmog), effectively keeping the desired skills while having the desired aesthetics. The mechanic would later reappear in Monster Hunter World (2018, PS4/Xbox One/PC), Monster Hunter World Iceborne (2019, same machines) and Monster Hunter Rise (2021, Switch) through free DLC content.
- Clownsuiting: an older variant of fashion hunting, clownsuiting denotes the act of mixing pieces of different armor sets to create optimal sets of skills in a min-/maxing manner. The term refers to how these mixes usually end up with questionable looks. It was mostly used before the introduction of a transmog mechanic.
- Dooter: refers to a hunter wielding the hunting horn, a variant of hammer that can play short songs to buff the party. Most craftable hunting horns have a musical motif, i.e., they are typically shaped like wind instruments (bagpipes, ocarinas, etc.) though they are also occasionally shaped like string instruments. Nevertheless, the former and the Doot Doot meme inspired this nickname.
- Swag axe: a fan term referring to the switch axe, a transformable weapon which hunters can play either as an axe, either as a large sword, each mode having its advantages (e.g., the axe mode has a better reach). The swag part likely refers to the visually impressive moves of the weapon as well as its lack of defensive capability.
- Funlance: a fan term for the gunlance, a unique type of lance that can also shoot explosive shells from its tip. A niche weapon in most games, the gunlance gained in depth as the series evolved as well as a dedicated following: a subreddit r/Gunlance currently garners around 6.9k members. Though the gunlance is usually not the best weapon in terms of DPS in most Monster Hunter games, its over-the-top, explosive playstyle is often regarded as one of the most enjoyable, hence the term.
- Tri baby / World sperm: mostly used on 4chan, these terms mock players who started with a certain generation of games but act as expert hunters or hardcore fans, often because the associated games were perceived by old timers as offering less challenge/depth than previous installments. Tri baby denotes hunters who started with either Monster Hunter 3 (Wii, 2010 in the West), also known as Monster Hunter Tri, either its expansion Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Wii U/3DS, 2013), while World sperm denotes players who discovered the series with Monster Hunter World (2018, PS4/Xbox One/PC) or its expansion Iceborne (2019 on the same machines).
Due to its large following, Monster Hunter has spawned several minor memes among its community that are often depicted in fanarts and video clips.
Plesioth's hip check hitbox
One of the earliest monsters in the series, the Plesioth is a large piscine wyvern that can fight both on land and from large bodies of water, notably thanks to its powerful water jets. Though it is usually considered a mid-game monster, the creature is infamously known among hunters for its hip check, i.e., an attack where the Plesioth puts itself sideways and strikes with its hip. In early games, the hitbox (i.e., the 3D area where the attack can damage the player) was known to be unexpectedly large, leading to players being sent flying off without even making physical contact with the Plesioth on screen, even if they stand behind it. This frustrating hitbox, which was still present in Freedom Unite (PSP; shown in bottom left video), led to many fanarts and video clips (sometimes involving in-game footage), with notable examples shown below. Ulterior games eventually fixed the hitbox, though hunters still joke about it online.
Deviljho ("angry pickle") / Bazelgeuse ("B-52")
The Deviljho is a large and extremely dangerous brute wyvern, i.e., the Monster Hunter equivalent of a theropod dinosaur. First introduced in Monster Hunter 3 (Wii, 2010 in the US), it quickly became a fan favorite due to how it would appear by surprise in quests targetting other monsters, a feature that has been kept in all subsequent games. Being an endgame monster, Deviljho is usually too powerful for the hunters to survive its attacks or hunt it in addition to the target monster(s) upon first encountering it. Moreover, it has a peculiar relationship with the Qurupeco, a bird-like monster that can mimic the sounds of other monsters, much like the real-life lyrebird. Qurupeco uses this feature to attract other monsters to fight its aggressors, including the Deviljho. Funnily enough, the Deviljho can also attack the Qurupeco. The Deviljho also became famous among fans for its tendency to feed on anything, including its own severed tail or a slain member of its own species. In Monster Hunter World, it can also grab other monsters and use them as weapons. Due to all these fearsome features and its green, dented hide, the Deviljho has been nicknamed "angry pickle" by fans and spawned many fanarts and video clips (shown below).
The very idea of an invading and too-powerful-to-hunt monster was renewed in several games released after MH3, most notably in Monster Hunter World (PS4/Xbox One/PC, 2018) with the Bazelgeuse, a flying wyvern that generates explosive scales and drops them on its preys much like a bomber. This monster, which appears in all environments during High Rank quests in Monster Hunter World, is often referred to as B-52 by fans.
"Je suis monté" / French hunter
Released exclusively in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013, Monster Hunter 4 introduced more verticality in the gameplay, an evolution which stayed in all subsequent games though the mechanics evolved over time. In addition to rougher environments, faster climbing and jumping, hunters could also enjoy jump attacks and trigger a mounting mini-game after landing several successful jump attacks on a monster. This mechanic, which is in practice a button mashing mini-game, allows hunters to topple the mounted monster and create an opening if they win the mini-game. While monsters can usually be toppled through other means (such as continually hitting the legs), a monster toppled via the mounting mini-game stays on the ground for a longer period, making it an ideal tool for beginners. In Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, the expansion to MH4 which was eventually released in the West in early 2015 for the 3DS, players have automatic phrases upon performing certain actions during multiplayer gameplay, including upon starting the mounting mini-game. The default French phrase upon mounting is "Je suis monté !" ("I mounted !"), and due to the game having no default translation for default phrases, many non-French hunters were surprised by it. The phrase eventually became a small meme among fans, often associating it with a stereotypical French man.
Give me hot fish / Misheard OST lyrics
Another minor but ancient joke among fans comes from the musical theme for the white Fatalis. Canonically the strongest monster in the Monster Hunter universe, the white Fatalis is a very old dragon with a complete control over thunder, occasionally creating local thunderstorms to zap the hunters. Due to its status, the white Fatalis is usually one of the last monsters players can hunt in a Monster Hunter game, and is also one of the first monsters in the series whose music theme features choirs. Many fans have joked online about what the lyrics were about, often mishearing the first lines of the theme as "Give me hot fish / Bless me hot fish / Put some salsa / On the hot fish / [Screams of pain]" (below, left). The hot fish meme barely spawned parodies or fanarts, contrary to aforementioned memes, but is frequently used among fans in online boards, Youtube comments and the likes. Other themes in the series have inspired similar jokes, such as the main theme for the Safi'jiiva, a massive red dragon that was released as free DLC for Monster Hunter World Iceborne in Fall 2019. The main refrain in this theme is typically misheard as "he's a gentle simple sailor" (below, right).
Other notable content
Iceborne's Alatreon controversy
The Alatreon is an elder dragon that belongs to the highest tier of monsters in the Monster Hunter universe, a.k.a. black dragons, due to its seemingly supernatural ability to control all elements of nature (fire, ice, thunder, dragon, and even water in Monster Hunter World Iceborne). It was first introduced in Monster Hunter 3 (Wii, 2010 in the US) as its final boss. In July 2020, Capcom released a free DLC for Monster Hunter World Iceborne adding a fully revamped Alatreon, which was initially planned for May 2020 but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new Alatreon triggered a controversy among fans upon its release due to a special attack it uses roughly every 6 minutes, named "Escaton Judgement". If the hunters do not deal enough elemental damage to the "blazing black dragon", the entire party will be wiped out by an elemental blast and fail the quest if the party has at least 3 hunters. If they manage to deal enough elemental damage, the blast will be weakened, allowing hunters to survive it by healing themselves during the blast. It is worth noting that speedrunners from Team Darkside managed to survive the Escaton Judgement at full power (bottom left video). Though this new Alatreon was praised by speedrunners for its large amount of moves and accurate hitboxes and for how it forces players to play aggressively, it nevertheless frustrated more than one hunter. This divisive monster spawned several lenghty threads and memes in the process, notably on r/MonsterHunter and r/MonsterHunterWorld. Gaijin Hunter, a YouTuber well known among fans, also commented the controversy (bottom right video).
In late 2016, a movie adaptation of the series directed by Paul W. S. Anderson was announced. The first pictures of the shooting became public on the Internet in December 2018, and showed Milla Jovovich starring as a member of a UN military team (shown below, left). These early images prompted negative reactions from fans, most of them considering that a realistic military unit had nothing to do with the series, due to most of the ingame equipment being borderline unrealistic or outlandish. The synopsis at the time was about the military unit being warped into the Monster Hunter world, but no picture of said world was available at the time. As more details arrived, it turned out the movie would feature many prominent characters and monsters from Monster Hunter World (PS4/Xbox One/PC, 2018) and a few monsters from Monster Hunter 4 (3DS, 2013). The movie was planned for a release by the end of 2020, and should have been played in Chinese theaters starting from December 4. However, the movie got quickly censored in China due to a joke which has been perceived as racist towards the Asian community . The incriminating lines come from a small exchange between two soldiers early in the movie:
-Look at my knees.
-What kind of knees are these?
The pun derives from an old rhyme used to make fun of Asians. Due to the many countries where theaters were closed in late 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the movie has also been released on several streaming services and received a mixed reception, scoring 46% on Metacritic. It currently holds a score of 5.3/10 on its IMDB page. Fan reception is mostly negative, many criticizing the pacing of the story, the odd changes in scales of both monsters and weapons (the Rathalos being much larger in the movie than it is in the series), poor use of some story ideas and strange jokes.
 PlayStation LifeStyle – Monster Hunter World Hits 17 Million Sales, Resident Evil 7 Crosses 7 Million Units Sold
 The Hollywood Reporter – China Box Office: ‘End of Endless Love’ Wins Weekend After ‘Monster Hunter’ Yanked from Cinemas
 Capcom – ""Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate" Becomes the First Title in this Series to Top One Million Units Shipped in Europe and North America!":https://www.capcom.co.jp/ir/english/news/html/e150414.html