Monster Hunter, the fantasy shoe cobbling sim that lets you cobble the most radical shoes in the world, has now existed since 2004, which I kind of find unbelievable right now. People have been asking me every few months since the very first game if I might get around to reviewing anything from it, and I've always said "Sure! Yeah! Sometimes soon I'll bet!"...it turns out my definition of "sometime soon" is an entire sixteen years. SIXTEEN YEARS. SIXTEEN YEARS THIS SERIES HAS BEEN AROUND. What!?! I never even tried playing it yet. There's already like ten of them. What the hell. How. I thought it was "new." I thought Monster Hunter was still a "recent" game series that "just" sold a million billion copies one day and "just" got a Part II all the cool kids keep talking about on their Playstation Portables and their Xbox 3's. JESUS.
The 13 Most GROTESQUE Monster Hunter Monsters!
But, you know what, sixteen years is also apparently how long it took for Monster Hunter to come out with more than just a handful of monsters that are really "my thing," so, there's that too! LET'S GO!!!!
Appearing in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, this is a pretty nice mantodean monster; its anatomy draws heavily from flower mantises, but its color scheme and name give it an "Egyptian Pharaoh" motif I've never seen done for a mantis at all!
What's particularly creative about this one is that every Ahtal-ka encountered in the game is a female, and the "nest" of a mature female is a huge mass of debris held together and controlled by thick, powerful strands of silk, like a humongous puppet!
An enormous elder dragon, this monster is initially encountered as a bulky, ponderous heap of moving sand and boulders, using weird vibrations to control soil and rock, hence its title the "Earth Singing Dragon." Its true underlying form is a much lighter, faster creature once exposed, and has an almost cracked, desiccated appearance. The chest is full of holes, the head kind of resembles an exploded "sand rose" selenite stone, and many of its extremities look almost like dusty, intertwined rope, including the long spider-like fingers of its "wings," which adapted into massive hands that generate its "earth singing" through their fingertips. That's all pretty gnarly!
The Shara Ishvalda also has a memorably terrifying face, with intense eyes and just enough of a "human" quality to feel kind of "wrong."
Appearing in Monster Hunter 2, a lot about this one is peculiar. It's a massive, bloated Elder Dragon that floats like a gaseous blimp, and it's so sluggish that, like a sloth, its body builds up moss, algae and other vegetation as a sort of camouflage. Further, the interior of its body serves as a nesting ground to symbiotic "thunderbugs," insects that bioluminesce so brightly they look like brilliant balls of light...and those that inhabit Yama Tsukami defend their nest by exploding, like living bombs!
Both Yama Tsukami and the related Yama Kurai here also happen to have tremendous mouths with unsettlingly human teeth, which of course it also where their explosive bugs fly out. A lot of people describe these monsters as resembling squids or octopuses, but the overall body shape, mouth placement and eye placement honestly makes me think much more along the lines of floppy-limbed frogs or toads, like one of those horned or "pac-man" frogs in particular.
I really like this one! It's a signature apex predator of the Rotten Vale, a filthy mire of enormous fungi sprouting from colossal heaps of monster corpses! Odogaron truly looks like the kind of thing that would inhabit such a place, its gnarled red flesh bringing to mind the face of a carrion bird or a flayed carcass itself. I really like the chunkiness of its teeth, similar to those a hyena uses to chomp through bone, and the overall facial structure - especially the eye placement - seems to be lifted from a moray eel! Also of note are its weird double rows of claws, having both long, scythe-like talons and shorter spikes that sprout from its knuckles. Head to toe, it truly feels like the kind of nightmarish thing that specializes in the carrion of dragons.
I really like this one too! This tropical looking wyvern seems to combine a potoo bird with a chameleon to beautiful effect with a lot of personality and simply wonderful biological details. Admire that prickly, lump chameleon skin a while! And how about the cool sucker-looking discs on its flesjhy wings? And its rainbow tail? And its big, bright, sticky pink tongue?! Maybe you feel that this is a cuter and more whimsical monster than it is a grotesque or nightmarish one, but personally I find that this design hits quite a few weird, witchy, halloweeny, hobgobliny buttons missing from a lot of this series, not to mention the disgusting horror of anything that wants to eat you without any teeth, and then there's the fact that this monster's major claim to fame is being so poisonous! It not only spews toxic saliva from its mouth, but that cutesy rainbow tail can swell up like a firehose and spray noxious, purple ooze as well.
If Pukei-Pukei qualifies however, then I really can't get away with leaving out Chameleos. This one is a more straightforward "giant chameleon" interpreted into a dragon, but in such a lovely fashion! The fat, rugose wings really match a chameleon's aesthetic quite well, as does the tail broadened into that massive multi-fingered clutching appendage. Coolest of all is the long, pointed face of course, and not only does it have a chameleon's usual snapping tongue, but it too has a poison ability. In this case, it's a toxic fog rather than a fluid, and it uses the flapping of its wings to waft the nasty miasma wherever it needs!
This is a pretty imaginative design for a dragon, honestly. Covered in thick, black scales that almost make it appear more insect-like, it completely lacks eyes but has a pair of luminous antenna-like horns that can "fold open" from its skull. Most unusually of all, its furry wings are covered in powdery scales, like a moth or a butterfly, which it deliberately scatters in order to better sense the surrounding environment. Unfortunately for everyone, these scales also carry a virus that drives other living things into a "frenzied" state.
So it's a blind, disease-carrying moth-dragon. That's awesome! What's not as awesome is that it's officially supposed to molt into a different monster, the Shagaru Magala; a highly inferior design with a more conventionally draconic face, a gaudy gold coloration, and worst of all a set of eyes! EYES, AGAIN! MY OLD NEMESIS!
This is another Rotten Vale monster, but this one specializes in the collection of bones! It's a big, burly bruiser related to another monster that doesn't do anything cool with bones at all, and both of them are somewhat related to the Deviljho. The Radobaan is unique however in the thick, gooey black slime secreted from its skin, almost identical to tar, which allows it to affix bones to its body as protective spines and armor. What appears to be a huge row of "teeth" is even a spine and rib cage, if you look close!
This is yet another corpse collector, and we're even skipping over one more - the spider-like Nerscylla - because as much as I like spiders, the Nerscylla admittedly feel a lot more conventional than this creature. Nakarkos is a more recent addition to the games that, when first encountered, appears to be a two-headed skeleton dragon. In realiy however, Nakarkos is an octopus-like, tentacled cephalopod dragon, its single actual head is often kept buried in a huge pit of bones and its other two "heads" are just skulls and vertebrae adorning two powerful tentacles, which can spew an adhesive slime from their tubular tips. This slime is used not only to attach bones to itself, but of course allows it to incapacitate prey at a distance.
At first glance, the Baruragaru looks like a somewhat conventional "water monster" design, a sinuous lizard with spiny, fish-like fins, toothy jaws that kind of remind you of a barracuda without actually looking anything like a barracuda, and those lovably floppy-looking rubbery flipper limbs. But then it shoots out its long, chameleon-like tongue, which is actually tipped in a lamprey-like secondary mouth. It goes without saying that it uses this to drain blood and other body fluids from its prey, but in a fun twist, it will also attack the smaller monsters that most importantly include the smaller, flightless "bird wyverns" it shares certain habitats with.
These wyverns are the Gendrome, Iodrome, and Velocidrome seen here, and each one actually functions like a different "powerup" to the Baruragaru. The bloodsucker will gain paralyzing abilities if it feeds on the Gendrome, poison if it feeds on the delightfully slimy Iodrome, and "blood based" attacks if it feeds on the Velocidrome or a human player, which I guess means that's just the effect of draining regular blood.
Definitely the grisliest creature in the series, the Vaal Hazak is an ancient dragon and the Rotten Vale's most powerful inhabitant, even capable of controlling the deadly "effluvium" miasma of the vale and absorbing it into its body to spew from its mouth in a more concentrated, more toxic state. Though it has a decomposing, "undead" appearance, you probably guessed already that the Vaal Hazak simply wears a tattered, rotting skin over its body, in my opinion the most fashionable use of carrion thus far, and the illusion of a living corpse is completed by its fleshless, bony lower jaw.
This is a characteristic borrowed from the real world Stoplight Loosejaw, an abyssal fish that seems to have contributed to the Hazak's overall skull structure and prominent, translucent teeth. In the loosejaw, this "floorless" mouth cuts so much drag from the surrounding water that it is thought to snap up prey much faster than other fish, but that doesn't quite explain how this adaptation works in the Vaal Hazak's favor, unless it is sometimes prone to hunting while submerged in liquid and we simply never see that demonstrated.
Back when the original Monster Hunter took gaming by storm, this was the monster everybody wanted me to see and eventually review. This classic was sort of the token "creepy" monster of the setting, everything about it designed to evoke what regular weirdos think is gross or unpleasant in nature. A colorless, eyeless, slime-coated troglodyte, its stretchable neck and circular, gummy maw both evoke the pop culture image of a leech or lamprey, an intention all the more apparent from the large suction cup on its tail, which it uses to dangle from ceilings! Its most prominent attack is electricity, but of course a thing that looks like this would also have acidic saliva...and, of course, a thing that looks like this would also be a parasitoid! The Khezu apparently paralyzes other monsters to implant them with their embryonic larvae, which live as parasites until the host expires or the larvae are large enough to gnaw their way out.
It's a pity that we apparently never actually see this happen in a Monster Hunter game. Instead, there's just a quest to retrieve a "Khezu Whelp" from a dead monster, represented by an icon of a jarred specimen, though possessing this item amusingly enough drains your HP as you attempt to cart it back.
As a monster designed to be "grotesque," the Khezu feels very much like a signature icon of the series and does a good job of combining numerous animals that tend to weird people out. However, I genuinely do find its design completely outclassed by its replacement in Monster Hunter 3...
I love Gigginox. When it comes to almost every other creature in this franchise, I feel that they're "objectively" very cool, very fun ideas, but none of them really speak to me on too personal of a level; none of them are the kind of thing I'd want as a signature Pokemon partner, my ultimate measure of personal quality, except however this one. It isn't even as simple as the fact that it's a "leech dragon" even leechier than the Khezu, because a lot of leech-based monsters in popular culture can kind of miss the mark for me; especially when they're just simple tubes with scary mouths and little in the way of personality.
>Gigginox, however, does a leech monster right; even if it still has the usual "toothy ring" mouth borrowed more from a lamprey, it's a flat, rubbery, squishy and ridiculously stretchy monster; just look at its mouth flaring open! I love the broadened hammer-like shape to its head, the thick and gummy edges to its wings, the knobbly frog-like digits and how its widened scales help to evoke annelid-like segmentation! It also has strange, luminous heat sensitive organs instead of eyes, and an entire second head for a "tail!"
And while it may not have the parasitoid gimmick of the Khezu, we DO get to see what a Gigginox's babies look like!
The stumpier, wingless "Giggi" would almost be forgettable designs if the didn't have those darling little flippers, presumably where their wings will eventually grow in. Flopping around like baby seals, they emerge from gelatinous egg sacs the Gigginox periodically deposits even in the midst of battle...though if you're thinking of attacking the poor babies before they even hatch, some of the sacs are infertile decoys booby trapped with poison, or in the case of the Baleful Gigginox (which I used for our main image), booby trapped with electricity.
I don't even play this series, and I'm sad that Gigginox has thus far been left behind almost entirely in Monster Hunter 3, its remake and maybe one spinoff that nobody cared about. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Khezu and Gigginox should be core staples of this series!! I am not in the Monster Hunter fandom but I am in both the monsters and leeches fandom, giving me supreme authority to assert that a Monster Hunter game without Gigginox is no Monster Hunter game at all!!!!
MORE HALLOWEEN FEATURES: