Capcom held a university-themed event Tuesday evening in San Francisco to introduce newcomers to the Monster Hunter universe in the runup to next spring's North American release of Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii. We'd already played the game at previous events, so we knew what to expect: Monster Hunter, looking nice (especially the large monsters) but not as nice as it could have on the PS3.
After spending some time with the three-level, English-localized trade show demo on-hand -- including a go using the very nice Classic Controller Pro, which is included in Japan's black system/game bundle -- we asked Capcom staff about two unsettled questions concerning the game's US release. The first was the matter of paying to play Monster Hunter Tri online, as the game eschews Nintendo's servers for Capcom-operated ones and is fee-based in Japan. We didn't receive a decisive answer, being told only that the publisher is "hoping" the game will be free to play in the US. We got a similar response when we wondered if Wii Speak support was 100% set for the domestic release -- Capcom's "hoping" to get it in, but couldn't promise anything.
The event did provide taste of what trying to coordinate a successful online monster hunt would be like without Wii Speak -- we found it nearly impossible to hear our fellow players (or the game) over the music being piped through the venue's formidable sound system.