Typically, the Monster Hunter series is known for its difficult conquests and enormous monsters that require a whole team to put down. It’s very much a team-based affair that requires cooperation with other players and careful planning to ensure everything goes smoothly–and so everyone isn’t sent hurtling toward a Game Over screen immediately.

That’s why Monster Hunter Stories is such a stark departure from the norm. Capcom has tried something entirely different in the form of this colorful, friendly-looking role-playing game that’s more Pokémon or Yo-Kai Watch than anything else. It’s spawned its own anime to keep the target audience (read: kids) enthralled, and if you’ve been watching the series and find yourself enjoying its silly yet colorful new brand of Monster Hunter gameplay, you’ll likely want to get your hands on the title that inspired it as well.

You can choose to be a male or female “Monster Rider,” or an individual with a special connection to various monsters. While much of the world looks to exterminate them, there’s a vast majority of people in the world who want to live alongside them and work as a team, much like the wide world of Pokémon. There’s no hunting to be found in this game, unlike the main series; instead, you’ll journey across the world befriending monsters, fighting against others, and examining the inner workings of the people who inhabit the world.

Monster Hunter Stories trades real-time action combat as seen in the other games for turn-based Japanese role-playing game structure as well as a special weakness and strength system much like that of Pokémon’s or Yo-Kai Watch. You can collect various monsters throughout your travels to come aid you when needed and even hatch eggs to welcome more new monsters into the world. The message is clearly focused on preserving life instead of destroying it, and as much as it can be fun to do that in games, this refreshing take is pretty interesting as well.

It’s a much-needed, much more light-hearted twist on a series that can as well be off-putting and frustrating to newcomers, especially since the games have been going on for so long now and have had so many titles that anyone looking to just jump in can feel overwhelmed by the choices of games to start with and all of the mechanics within. Interestingly enough, it’s the latest handheld entry in the series since 2015’s Monster Hunter Generations for 3DS, which kept things true to the franchise’s roots. The franchise is now ten years old and this constant evolution provides plenty of reasons to keep coming back to it.

The anime series of the same name (except for the added subtitle) Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On is comprised of 48 episodes and follows a similar setup since it was inspired by the video game. It follows the adventures of five friends: Lute, Naviloo, Lilia, Ayuria and Cheval, as they raise their own “monstee” friends, ride them around the world and interact with the other monsters and human beings around them. It may be a bit paint-by-numbers given its setup, but it’s a lively and engaging romp that feels torn straight from the pages of “Roleplaying 101.”

Currently, there’ve been few rumblings of Monster Hunter Stories getting an international release, but it came out in Japan as of October 8. Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On is available in English to watch right now, however, if you so desire.

Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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