Monster Hunter was on the verge of change in the late 2010s. The next generation was going to change the formula, making a more open world with all-new mechanics for movement and tracking. Unfortunately, this new style of game would require a new engine, making it all the more difficult to bring back old monsters. Luckily for us, before Monster Hunter went into the future, it celebrated the past.
Monster Hunter Generations is, like any anniversary game, massive. It packs in the most popular monsters from prior games into a single package, but of course, we don’t care about the guys coming back. Generations has a relatively slim profile of new monsters, but nearly all of them are winners, bringing in cool new gimmicks and amazing takes on old types of monsters. Let’s start simple and build our way up!
Our first monster really shows just how good Gen’s originals are. The Maccao is in the vein of the previous games starter bird wyverns, and like them, it is a relatively weak but quick pack hunter. While I love the Jaggis, Maccao is my favorite of its type. I adore the coating of shaggy green feathers all over its body, especially where they contrast with its strange, armored hands. Of course, Great Maccao’s most notable feature is its oversized tail, which it stands on to “punch” with its feet, like a kangaroo! The Maccao can even spring itself forwards off of its tail. I love it. I love my feathery kangaroo lizard.
Our next bird wyvern is actually a bird, an owl to be precise. On the surface, Malfestio is simple but fun. I love the swept-back head crests, providing a jester-like look. This fits Malfestio’s role as a trickster, less prone to head to head brute force and more prone to throwing around powder that causes confusion, reversing your controls! Furthering this trippy theme, apparently you can get high by eating its scales.
The most interesting thing about it, however, is that despite resembling an owl, it is proportioned and moves similarly to other dromeosaur-like bird wyverns, running along the ground when it doesn’t fly. It’s a cool detail, and adds a lot of personality to something that could otherwise just be a weird owl!
After over a decade of games with dinosaur-based monsters, we finally got a sauropod! It’s a good one, too. I like the elaborations on a sauropod’s basic bodyplan, with the big crest or sac on its head and their weirdly thick tail. While their feet don’t try that hard to match actual sauropod feet, I like that they got their thumb claw in there! Seeing these guys walking around really adds to the atmosphere of the Jurassic Frontier, a region particularly populated with dinosaurian monsters.
Most generations of Monster Hunter have one mascot monster, one creature that represents that entry in the series. Generations has four, and they’re all pretty interesting. First off is the most standard in concept, effectively an electrical Rathalos, but the execution makes it interesting. The crest is okay, and the stun-gun tail is pretty cool, but what’s most interesting are those wings. The butterfly-like pattern on them is incredible, elevating the whole design. It doesn’t even quite look like a Monster Hunter design anymore, standing out in a good way.
The second of Generation’s flagship monsters is one of the series’ relatively few mammalian monsters, and by far the largest of them. Despite mammals being rarer, this fits right into Monster Hunter’s roster by virtue of its prehistoric influence. Gammoth is rather simple in concept, but very nice in execution, with all kinds of unique features. The oddly rocky skin on its legs pick up compacted snow the same way a bee’s legs pick up pollen, and they help accentuate the bumpy surface of the crest and tusks. Its body shape is very odd, exaggerating a mammoth’s humped back and short legs to create a very strange organism, topped off by a massive, fluffy tail. Mammoths didn’t have big tails, so that’s extra neat.
Its most interesting feature is the spines or claws within its trunk. That’s bizarre on a whole new level! What would those even be? Keratin spines like a rhino horn? Ossified cartilage? What a weirdo!
The one new leviathan of Generations, Mizutsune is, plainly, gorgeous. It’s not quite as unique as Astalos’ beauty, but I really love the mother of pearl fins on its head and down its back, and the purple fur coating its underside is pretty fascinating. Leviathans aren’t placed within Dinosauria by the official taxonomy, but that could totally be feathers. The neat thing about those bristles, however, is how they fit with Mizutsune’s themes. The creature exudes a soapy, slick substance that makes the ground slippery and creates bubbles, and when it soaks its bristles, they look like a scrubby brush for dishes! Brilliant!
Another clever feature is those massive hooked claws on its front limbs. Those are used to keep traction and control on the ground that Mizutsune slicks up with its soap! Also brilliant! It’s not my favorite design in the game, but it’s probably the most clever.
Glavenus is, on the surface, just another cool dinosaur. It has a nice face clearly inspired by Carnotaurus, and a fun gimmick in its tail being a massive sword. The really cool stuff happens when a Glavenus bites its tail or scrapes it on rocks, igniting it. This is obviously cool in terms of game mechanics, but what I want to talk about is the design!
Not only does its tail glow, adding a lot more orange to its color balance, it gets a little bit of glow to its scales! Contrasted with the blue tint of its horns and head plates, it creates a bold, almost cartoonish color pallet. I love it, and there’s few things with coloration quite so striking in the series.
Narkaros would normally be my number one monster, and by all rights it should be. There really isn’t anything I don’t love about it. It’s an “elder dragon”, but one that is clearly a kraken! A kraken completely covered in the bones of actual dragons it’s eaten! Most of the time, its full body is under its bone-strewn pond, only exposing two tentacles that use dragon skulls like puppets! The “eyes” in the skull’s sockets are just bioluminescent spots like those that cover its body. That’s another really clever twist!
When the monster’s body actually does come up, it’s lovely. Its antomy isn’t that unusual for a squid, but the placement of those tentacles alongside its mouth, with their toothy ridges, is interesting, and the color scheme is just killer. That beautiful lilac really stands out on its drab body. It also like the odd sawfish-like ridge over the head, presumably the upper jaw of some huge dragon with a skull naturally shaped like that. What an awesome concept with a glorious execution.
So I saved this for last for a reason. This is the ultimate boss of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, the one you can only meet after everything else on this page and dozens of other fearsome beasts. Normally this role would be taken by some dangerous elder dragon, but instead Generations summons up a mostly normal praying mantis. Why?
Well first, let’s talk about the design! Apparently, Ahtal-Ka is the empress of mantises, and it shows. She has an Egyptian motif, with wings resembling those found on some ancient Egyptian art and the classic blue and gold color scheme. She takes after the more exotic mantises like devil mantises and such, who have strange, elongated eyes like her. Her environment supports this ancient and powerful vibe, an abandoned ruin with some architecture that suggests a more advanced civilization once lived there. It is from these ruins that Ahtal-Ka creates her claim to fame, pulling together girders and other scrap to manifest the Empress’ Throne.
Yes, this monster, using her golden thread (likely inspired by real-life golden orb weavers), creates a mech. And the mech is a monster too, like any other, not just a humanoid figure with no personality. I can’t handle that. It’s brilliant. There are several designs I like more in this game, but as a concept, it’s hard to beat this. Long live the Empress.
Enjoyed the nostalgia trip offered by Generations? Check out my other Monster Hunter articles covering the entire series!