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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Game Music Showcase: Monster Hunter

Monster Hunter is, alongside Pokemon, one of the biggest crazes in Japan, featuring the same compulsive gameplay, though in a vastly different environment and context. While the goal in Pokemon was to catch, raise, and probably cuddle with your little colorful monsters, in Monster Hunter your goal is to hunt or capture some far less cuddly ones with various weapons and tools. In a way it's like a boss battle simulator; each of them have specific movement and attack patterns. The main attraction is co-operative hunts for up to 4 players, it's been that way since the beginning, and monster hunting still remains a popular pastime in Japan.

It's way more interesting than we're making it sound; the addictive aspect of Monster Hunter is killing the aforementioned monsters, getting materials out of them to build new weapons and armor, and then setting out to kill even more powerful monsters to forge even better equipment...the cycle continues. There are tons of subtle stuff in the series; it's something you have to try for at least a few hours to get a feel for.

Namco approached series producer Capcom when interest for Monster Hunter spiked up during its third generation of games, and from then on, each Monster Hunter game has had a medley on Taiko no Tatsujin, whether on arcade or on console. The medleys 'expire' however; on the arcade, each of them are replaced with a newer medley when one is released, and on the console side, the newest medley available is always used in a console Taiko release, never reverting to an older one; and never in any Taiko songlist do two MonHun medleys coexist. It makes some sense; since the medleys follow the same basic structure and are always bookended by the Monster Hunter theme song and the BBQ Spit tune (which are slightly different each game, but you get the idea). In selected occasions, non-medley MH songs have appeared in Taiko gaming, starting from a Monster Hunter Cross song (Generations in the rest of the world).

The collaboration between Taiko and MH is still going strong; sometimes you may see Taiko-themed equipment or accessories in Monster Hunter as well!


-Monster Hunter series-


 Monster Hunter Medley (モンスターハンターメドレー) (Tri)
Allx4 (159)x5 (229)x6 (348)x7 (657)
 Taiko 13, 14, Taiko Wii 3, Taiko +

 Monster Hunter Medley (モンスターハンターメドレー) (Portable 3rd)
All consolex4 (158)x4 (212)x5 (400)x8 (733)
Taiko 0x3 (158)x4 (212)x5 (400)x8 (733)
 Taiko 0, Taiko PSP DX, Taiko Wii 4

The first medley, despite the name, is actually more focused on Monster Hunter Tri, the first game in the 3rd generation of the series released exclusively for Nintendo Wii. The game is set in a tribal fisherman's village called Moga Village, who is under threat by earthquakes that threaten to sink the island it is on. As the hunter, your aim is to get stronger and find the source of the earthquakes, to put a stop to it. Tentatively, the village's problem is an electric-spewing dragon known as the Lagiacrus, who is also the game's flagship monster. The medley goes from the main theme, to the Rathalos battle theme (pulled from 1st generation Monster Hunter), then the remaining majority of the song dedicated to the Lagiacrus battle theme and the Proof of a Hero (Tri edition) song, before ending with the ubiquitous BBQ Spit song.

A slow and easy 7* Oni with sparse clusters, but the BPM shifts can take some time to get used to. The difficult part in this medley is the Lagiacrus theme, where there are a couple of long 1/12 note streams to get used to.

The second medley uses new music from Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, and appropriately, debuts on Taiko Portable DX. Lagiacrus out of the picture, this game is in Yukumo Village, a traditional Japanese setting which is in danger of being attacked by another lightning-based monster, a wolf named Zinogre. In order, the medley plays: A Hero's Proof 3(tri-) version, to the music that plays when you're spotted by a monster, to the Highlands battle music, to the Zinogre battle theme, to the uplifting Felyne March theme (which plays in the ending cutscene), and finally to a new BBQ music. The dancers are also different. Instead of Cha-Cha from Monster Hunter Tri and Felynes from Monster Hunter Diaries, the dancers are Felynes dressed in armor exclusive to Monster Hunter Portable 3rd. The notes on the new medley are also a lot harder and faster than the original (contributed by the faster and harder Zinogre theme), and was bumped up one difficulty star.

 Monster Hunter 3(Tri)G Medley (モンスターハンター 3(トライ)G メドレー)
Allx4 (168)x5 (262)x6 (420)x7 (637)
 Taiko 0.5 to 0 M, Taiko Wii 5, Taiko 3DS 1

The Monster Hunter console games have typically followed a pattern of three games per generation, an original game or sequel, then a portable version, and a 'G' version, which is seen as the penultimate and most complete of the Monster Hunter games in that generation before a new official sequel is released. This is based off Monster Hunter Tri G, and is the third Monster Hunter medley in Taiko no Tatsujin, probably the final one from the Tri generation of Monster Hunter games. The story and setting of this game is identical to the Wii version.

Since Monster Hunter Tri G was released on Nintendo 3DS, it would seem fitting to have its medley released on the 3DS first as well (like the Portable 3rd medley being released on PSP DX first). It is extremely similar to the first two medleys, bookended the same way as Portable 3rd's medley with the Hero's Proof opening and meat-roasting BGM at the end. Even the Lagiacrus battle music is repeated in the middle of the medley, from the original Tri. The only difference in this is the addition of the theme song for Tri G's signature monster, Brachydios, and the epic trumpet music that plays in the opening cutscene of the game.

Easier compared to the first two medleys and has less notes too. This is more of an update than anything else; like Monster Hunter which is constantly updated with a more complete and newer expansion pack, the same occurs to Taiko, proven by the removal of Portable 3rd's medley in favor of this new one on Taiko 0's July 2012 update, Codename Katsu-Don.

 Monster Hunter 4 Medley (モンスターハンター 4メドレー)
Allx3 (162)x5 (265)x7 (586)x8 (722)
 Taiko 0 M, Taiko 3DS 2, Taiko Wii U

Replacing the previous MH-related medley on Taiko Momoiro, this is based off the 4th generation of Monster Hunter, released on September 2013 as a Japan-exclusive game for the Nintendo 3DS. Shortly after its arcade debut, this song was made available to play for Taiko Wii U users as a DLC song starting January 2014. Unlike its predecessors, you are not tied to a single, central location in MH4, but rather traveling to multiple places on a caravan to discover the secret behind a mysterious golden shard.

The three new tracks between the main theme and the BBQ Spit theme are the general battle theme in the game's first area, the Ancestral Steppe, and versus Gore Magala, MH4's flagship.The final song is an uplifting ending song from the game called 'Setting Off Breeze', very much using the same style as Proof of a Hero from Tri. This is also the first Monster Hunter Medley to not have custom dancers. Graphical collaboration efforts are not seen until 3DS2, where a battle with Gore Magala itself can be triggered in the story mode, using this song and providing you with two Airou team members.

Pattern-wise, the Monster Hunter Medley's Oni mode feels closer in difficulty terms to the Portable 3rd medley, as both feature lots of 1/16 clusters in between. However, the lack of long clusters and stamina-unfriendly sections result into this medley being easier, despite being still worthy of the 8th star. The person behind this song's notechart (as well as the ones for the MH 3G Medley) is atsu, who is himself a big Monster Hunter fan as well!

 Monster Hunter 4G Medley (モンスターハンター 4G メドレー)
Allx4 (185)x6 (253)x7 (491)x9 (758)
 Taiko Wii U 2

Continuing the line of Monster Hunter medleys, this one is the very first ones from Capcom's monster-slaying series to be introduced on console Taiko first (though ironically, the source game is on the 3DS while this medley is on Wii U), as a Day 1 free DLC song.

This selection of songs is inspired by the definitive version of the series' fourth installment, which for the first time in the main series is available only on a handheld. As such, while we find familiar tracks from the previous medley in the line (with MH4's version of 'A Hero's Proof', the theme song 'Setting Off Breeze' and the returning BGMs 'Being Spotted' and 'Cooking'), we also find a couple of tracks that are exclusive to the 4G edition of the game: an abridged version of the theme for Dondruma Town (ドンドルマの街) and the Battle BGM played against the Seregios (セルレギオス), one of 4G's new monsters.

Monster Hunter 4G Medley is currently the hardest in the series, thanks to the heavier implementation of modern notechart gimmicks such as different time signatures and increasing scrolling speed changes in select moments of the song.

 TraBelna ~from Monster Hunter Cross~ (トラベルナ ~モンスターハンタークロスより~) Reo Uratani feat. Cat-girl Katy (CV: Reina Ueda)
Allx3 (77)x4 (131)x5 (231)x7 (358)
 Taiko 3DS 3

The third Taiko game for the Nintendo 3DS is the first one to receive a non-medley Monster Hunter song, coming from the mid-sequel known in Japan as Monster Hunter Cross (モンスターハンタークロスより).

Released in Japan on November 28th, 2015, this portable entry for the 3DS revolves around the titular "Cross", as old and new elements are crossed over in both old and new ways, such as the new battle styles and special moves for each of the existing weapons and the ability to play as felyne hunters. According to series director Shintaro Kojima, the cross is also a symbol that divides an area in four different parts, and so does the game itself with four villages, four large main monsters and four different fighting styles, with their own variation for each of the weapons. Later on, the game has been set for a Western release on July 2016, under the name of Monster Hunter Generations.

TraBelna is the ending theme for Monster Hunter cross, sung by Reina Ueda (上田麗奈) as the in-game Cat-girl Katy and choreographed with its own ending music video, with her and the game's chef felynes dancing to a number of locations and different situations/monsters, each of them winking to the series' past and present lore up to MH Cross's release. The title is a portmanteau of "travel" and the name of the base village "Belna" for this game. The melody of TraBelna also takes remixed inspirations from the village's background music. While Katy/Ueda sings in "MonHunese" both in the game's ending MV and the Taiko no Tatsujin inclusion, an alternate Japanese-lyricked version also exists as an exclusive hidden track in the soundtrack.

Being a non-medley, this song fares out the easiest one of the series, mostly consisting of either single notes or 3-note clusters. If you're playing on Oni, however, watch out for the final scrolling speed burst!

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