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Control monster-sucking bugs, mercilessly knife fauna to death in 'Monster Hunter 4'

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Monster Hunter 4
Monster Hunter 4

To people who are unfamiliar with the inner working of the Monster Hunter series, the idea of being able to jump and attack may not seem...well, all that innovative.

To people who are unfamiliar with the inner workings of the Monster Hunter series, the idea of being able to jump and attack may not seem...well, all that innovative. Not when Mario was doing it 27 years ago. But with a game that takes the basic idea of whacking a great big dragon with an exotically-shaped weapon into wondrously deep and complex heights, the concept of field maps running in three full dimensions (for a change) is quite novel indeed.

Monster Hunter 4, latest in the series of strategic action games that have enthralled Japanese gamers online for several years, will allow players to effortlessly jump across crevices and over smaller obstacles, something they can do automatically by holding down the slide pad in the direction they want to go. You'll also be able to go up to a wall and press the A button to put your character's body against it. While doing so, you'll be able to shimmy along the wall or perform a variety of actions that take advantage of your position, such as executing a kick-jump or other sort of attack.

Jumping attacks also take on new meaning with this gameplay system. If you hit a monster in the right place with a midair attack, you'll daze the poor victim, which will allow you to climb on the guy and start knifing it to within an inch of its existence. Doing this fills up a blue gauge onscreen that, when full, topples the beast and lets you deliver even more damage to it. Elmer Fudd you are most certainly not.

All this jumping news was revealed in the new issue of Famitsu magazine this week. Their 10-page preview also showed off a brand-new weapon — the sochukon (literally "insect controlling club"), a light, nimble weapon that lends itself well to sweep or slash-based combo attacks. The name stems from the fact that you can use the weapon to control ryochu ("hunter insects"), bugs that you can send out to swarm over foes and suck the "extract" out of them. This extract, which comes in one of four colors, can then be drunk to improve your offense, defense, speed, or stamina for a limited time. (You can also use the club to pole-vault yourself into the air, letting you strike airborne foes without needing to find an outcropping or something else to leap off of.)

Monster Hunter 4 is due out next spring for the 3DS in Japan.