Since the middle of last year, Polygon has been publishing outstanding oral histories of the Street Fighter series, and it recently published a related oral history for the Capcom vs. SNK series. A lot of details of the internal workings of Capcom and SNK alike came out of it, including some unexpected words about the Monster Hunter franchise. There is a claim in there that Monster Hunter may have begun life as an effort to create a game like Animal Crossing at Capcom.
The Capcom vs. SNK oral history spends a lot of time actually discussing the decline of fighting games at the end of the ’90s and into the 2000s and how game developers started to move on from the genre. In a throwaway line buried in the interviews, legendary artist Akira “Akiman” Yasuda discusses what then-Capcom General Producer Noritaka Funamizu decided to work on as a new project: “Funamizu was also a big fan of Animal Crossing, so I think he wanted to make something similar to Animal Crossing, which some way or another ended up becoming Monster Hunter.”
Noritaka Funamizu was an executive producer for the original Monster Hunter, and if Yasuda’s claim is true, it would not be completely shocking. After all, lots of video games start out as one thing and become another thing entirely, such as when a project originally intended to be a Resident Evil game transformed into the Devil May Cry series. More wildly, Square’s Final Fantasy Adventure apparently began life as a tennis game. It is utterly plausible that a project inspired by Animal Crossing could somehow morph into Monster Hunter at Capcom.
There is even one minor shred of evidence to back this possibility up. In 2018, Monster Hunter series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto did an interview with The Guardian in which he explained that the original Monster Hunter was one of three titles (along with Auto Modellista and Resident Evil Outbreak) intended to “experiment with online connectivity,” and a game like Animal Crossing would also fit the bill for such experimentation. There is, theoretically, a path from which an Animal Crossing-like game could have become the fierce, action-packed series we have now.
Still, since we can’t currently find concrete evidence to back this up, we’re classifying this one as a “rumor” for now. It sure is amusing to think about in any case.