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Julius

The Suikoden Thread

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After playing the first entry in the Suikoden series earlier this year, I was surprised to find that the only thread on the forums for the series is from 2005, when the PSP ports of Suikoden and Suikoden II were announced. 

I'm starting up Suikoden II later today for the first time after finding myself increasingly pulled back towards playing a JRPG, and thought it would be nice to have a space to record my journey with the game as I like doing with other threads, before I eventually get around to a more thoughtful and concise update for the Gaming Diary thread, and would like to get others onboard too to join the discussion, so I'm thinking of updating this post with things like the recruitment guides I use, any tips or tricks I pick up along the way, and so on, for reference if anyone else dives into the series too. 

I'll update this later with the recruitment guide I used and my notes from my time with the first Suikoden, but for now, it's onto Suikoden II! :D

 

Alright, without further ado, highlighting the games in the series, some of the names of key staff who worked on them, and I'll add helpful links or information as I make my way through the series for each entry that I can. I'll add the main titles for now and the spin-offs later, when I'll clean this post up a little more. For availability, I am mainly looking at this from an EU perspective, given that most on here are Europeans. 

Main series titles

SUIKODEN

Suikoden I and II arrive on PlayStation Store today – PlayStation.Blog

Quote

Treachery eats at the heart of the Scarlet Moon Empire. But is the Empire corrupt or its people just disloyal? 

Take the role of a young Imperial Guard in this epic tale of betrayal, greed and honour as he struggles to find the truth. Gather the 108 Stars of Destiny and lead them into battle to free the land from the grip of tyranny. 

Original release date: December 15th 1995 (JP), December 1996 (NA), April 1997 (EU)

Developed by: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo

Published by: Konami

Director: Yoshitaka Murayama

Producer: Kazumi Kitaue

Designer: Junko Kawano

Artist: Junko Kawano

Composers: Miki Higashino, Tappy Iwase, Hiroshi Tamawari, Hirofumi Taniguchi, Mayuko Kageshita

Most accessible on: PlayStation Network (PSP, PS3, PS Vita)

Also available on: PlayStation (note: will cost a small fortune); was also released on the Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows in Japan

Suggested recruitment guide: this one from GameFAQS as it contains minimal story spoilers

 

SUIKODEN II

How to Get the BEST Suikoden 2 Runes - Bright Rock Media

Quote

The Kingdom of Highland enjoys a tense truce with its neighbours. Political alliances have been formed and borders strengthened as the machinations of destiny grind onwards. 

Embark on a journey of discovery, learn devastating rune magic, control castles and command troops. Live the legend of the 108 Stars of Destiny

Original release date: December 17th 1998 (JP), August 31st 1999 (NA), July 28th (EU)

Developed by: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo

Published by: Konami

Director: Yoshitaka Murayama

Producer: Yoshitaka Murayama

Designers: Fumi Ishikawa, Junko Kawano

Artist: Fumi Ishikawa

Writers: Yoshitaka Murayama, Junko Kawano

Composers: Miki Higashino, Keiko Fukami

Most accessible on: PlayStation Network (PSP, PS3, PS Vita)

Also available on: PlayStation (note: will also cost a small fortune); was also released on Microsoft Windows in China

Suggested recruitment guide: this one from Suikosource which I am testing currently in my playthrough; unfortunately I could not find one as concise, detailed, and as spoiler-free as the one from GameFAQS for the first game, and so this does contain some story spoilers

 

SUIKODEN III

Suikoden III rated for PS2 Classics in Europe - Gematsu

Quote

Three lives from opposing forces in the Grassland War hold the fate of all living things in their hands. 

Can these three discover the secrets of the Flame Champion, find the True Runes and fulfil their destiny to forever change history? Experience this epic tale from three opposing viewpoints. 

Original release date: July 11th 2002 (JP), October 24th 2002 (NA), June 23rd 2015 (EU - PSN)

Developed by: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo

Published by: Konami

Directors: Yoshitaka Murayama, Keiichi Isobe

Producer: Noritada Matsukawa

Artist: Fumi Ishikawa

Composers: Michiru Yamane, Takashi Yoshida, Masahiko Kimura

Most accessible on: PlayStation Network (PS3)

Also available on: PlayStation 2 (JP and NA only)

Suggested recruitment guide: this one from Suikosource, which I have yet to test myself

 

SUIKODEN IV

Suikoden IV, historia de una leyenda marítima (a punto de resucitar en PS3)

Quote

As a young hero about to graduate from Naval Academy, embark on a journey of discovery as you search for the legendary 108 Stars of Destiny in the adventure of a lifetime. 

Sail a ship filled with crew members, shops and numerous mini-games. Fight group battles, one-on-one duels and tactical naval warfare. Navigate vast oceans, explore ports and discover beautiful islands. 

Original release date: August 19th 2004 (JP), January 11th 2004 (NA), February 25th 2005 (EU)

Developed by: Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo

Published by: Konami

Director: Masayuki Saruta

Designer: Junko Kawano

Artist: Junko Kawano

Composers: Masahiko Kimura, Michiru Yamane, Norikazu Miura

Most accessible on: PlayStation Network (PS3)

Also available on: PlayStation 2

Suggested recruitment guide: this one from Suikosource, which I have yet to test myself

 

SUIKODEN V

10 PS2 JRPGs We Want to Appear on PS4

Quote

In the land of Falena, a prosperous and beautiful country governed by the matriarchy and the benevolent power of the Sun Rune, civil unrest arises and the queen is forced to use the Sun Rune to quell the uprising...but at what cost?

Journey as the prince in an expansive quest uncovering the mysteries surrounding the Sun Rune, civil unrest and the dark intent of an unknown power in the greatest Suikoden saga yet!

Original release date

Developed by: Konami, Hudson Soft

Published by: Konami

Director: Takahiro Sakiyama

Artist: Kaori Fujita, Kizaki Sub-zero, Mikisato, Riya Hozumi

Writer: Kazuyoshi Tsugawa

Composers: Yoshihiro Tsukahara, Takashi Watanabe, Kuniyuki Takahashi. Chiharu Mukaiyama

Only available on: PlayStation 2 (unfortunately, for whatever reason, this never made its way to PSN)

Suggested recruitment guide: this one from Suikosource, which I have yet to test myself

 

Edited by Julius
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I've always wanted to play these games, but they're not readily available on consoles I own...

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2 hours ago, Glen-i said:

I've always wanted to play these games, but they're not readily available on consoles I own...

I have them all... (Except Suikoden 5 & Tactics)

Edited by Dcubed
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1 hour ago, Dcubed said:

I have them all... (Except Suikoden 5 & Tactics)

Thanks, but it's always the main issue with RPG's you have that I don't.

It's hard for me to really commit to RPG's if I can't play them whenever I feel like it.

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Unfortunately didn't get to put as much time Suikoden II today as I had originally wanted to, so I'm just creeping up on the 4 hour mark. It would be 5 hours, but to add to the series of unfortunate events, I went into my session today completely unaware about how the PS3's internal memory cards work for emulation of PS1 and PS2 titles, and as I found out an hour in at the first real opportunity to save my journey, I had filled up my existing one between Metal Gear Solid and Suikoden saves. To add insult to injury, you can assign memory card slots and rearrange them quite freely through holding down the PlayStation button, but for whatever reason you can't create a new one from there (I'm sure there's a technical reason I'm not fully aware of, but either way, it sucks when you can do so many other things with the internal memory cards from that position), meaning I had no choice but to quit out of the game to create a new one (meaning I took the opportunity to create a whole bunch of them). 

Anyways, as for the game itself?

It's been nothing short of fantastic so far, holy cow! I have to start by mentioning the opening movie for the game, because calling it epic would be selling it short. It's a masterpiece in itself:  

Then I started the game after transferring over my Suikoden save data, which doesn't waste any time in getting going, as you are almost immediately pulled into the thick of it. Much of the game since then has been similar, there's no dilly-dallying at all (and there wasn't that much in the first game either) and it moves confidently and quickly from one plot point to the next, all the while not feeling rushed at all. It makes whirlwind moments like getting caught out in an ambush actually feel like a whirlwind, and its easy to get caught up in a moment. The key characters and story have been set up, I've seen some familiar faces from the first game (something which I've been vocal about loving in games before), and despite only being less than 4 hours in, it's completely gripped me. So much has happened in such a short space of time, yet every moment feels like it gets a chance to breathe, and it seriously reminds me of Chrono Trigger in this way. I'm very curious to see if this carries through to the end of the game, but if it does, it's going to take a lot going wrong elsewhere for me to not love this game. 

Because there is so much that I love about this game so far. Something which has actually had me audibly whisper "wow" to myself on numerous occasions is just how expressive and animated the characters are. Of the games I've played to this point I genuinely think this game blows many other pixel art games out of the water in this regard - and that's including games I love and hold in the highest regard when it comes to this, such as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. And the Pokémon Ranger games, weirdly enough, deserves a mention too. For instance, they put in the work to have Riou lean down to grab a rope from the floor, at another point he's crouching over and cleaning the floor, another time a character ties a rope to a rail, a character trips and struggles to get up, there's a hug, and a dog dives onto someone before snuggling up to them. There's also the accuracy and effort of adding "shade" where necessary which goes far beyond what was in the first game, which was minimal at best, often giving rooms a bit of a flat feel in hindsight. It is genuinely some of the best pixel art animation I've seen in a video game from that era, and I doubt I'll shut up about it anytime soon, so rather than continue to list these instances, if you want to see what I mean, just watch the opening credits sequence, backed by a beautiful track called Reminiscence

And it should come as little surprise that with Miki Higashino returning after her work on the first game, which had a soundtrack I absolutely adored, that my love for the music in this series has only intensified. There's Enemy Attack which is as panic-filled and chaotic as you might expect, and the opening of which really reminds me of some Final Fantasy tracks before the crazy woodwind comes in over the top dizzyingly; Days Past, which is about as melancholic and wistful as it could possibly be; the ensemble version of Reminiscence, a slower and strained version which just gnaws away at you; and Beautiful Morning, which initially serves as Nanami's theme before being used elsewhere, which is just incredibly jolly. And speaking of Nanami, despite being so early on in the game, I already feel so attached to these characters, they're just that endearing, and I have to highlight Nanami for being the most animated and funny of the bunch; that track captures her vibe perfectly. 

As if I couldn't praise this game more than I already have, they seem to have fixed things which I thought got in the way of the first game knocking it out of the park, namely inventory management and NPC's tagging along. In the previous game, as I mentioned in my Gaming Diary entry back in January, each character had a limited number of slots which would quickly fill up with equipment, leaving only one or two slots open for carrying health items. This meant you would have to unload items and reorganise your inventory almost every opportunity you got to back at your headquarters, but in this game, there's a shared inventory you can access outside of battle, which can carry up to 30 items. This is in addition to the slots each party member has (3 for equipment, and a further 3 for whatever you like), so even though you would still only have 48 items to carry between them at any given time as you would in the first game, the organisation of these items is so much easier, and you still have a space to dump items into back at headquarters (though I've yet to give this a go myself, but it looks like there are more options included this time around too). As for NPC's tagging along, in the first game, you might find yourself trudging through a dungeon to save a character who would then have to join your party to make their way back with you, which meant you would have to alter your party formation. That isn't the case here, as they wisely added a 'Convoy' which any characters who are only there to tag along can be placed into, rather than taking up a valuable space in your party formation. 

My only genuine issue so far is a holdover from the first game where text speed can vary quite a bit, and so double-tapping X to get through the dialogue and view the next line, in instances where you have a choice of dialogue, can result in you accidentally selecting the first option without even realising. Heck, even found a bit of an exploit to sleep at Inns for free completely by mistake! :p 

It's rare that a game pulls me in and so plainly makes the case that it's something special this early on, and yet here I am wanting nothing but to book the rest of the week off and be completely consumed by this game. I'll have to see if it lives up to its early promise, as I know there's still plenty to go, but so far so great!

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Continued my Suikoden II journey the last couple of nights and have now passed the 10 hour mark, having acquired what I imagine will become my castle.

I'm absolutely loving it. The pixel art has continued to blow me away, the most recent example was when something got thrown up in the air and fell to the floor, it was brilliant. Something I've also noticed since my last post regarding the "shade" is   when you step into little pockets of light, such as light filtering through trees, there's a short but noticeable colour transition for your character from dark to light. It's such a tiny detail which really shows off just how polished this game is, every time I notice something new like this I can't help but grin, just realising how much passion was clearly poured into this game. Couple that with memorable moment after memorable moment, so many wonderful standout scenes, and I seriously struggle to imagine this game somehow fizzing out by the end. It hasn't pulled its punches on being a war story, and is so much stronger for it. 

I need to highlight some cool events in the story, so I'm popping them in the below spoiler tag: 

Spoiler

I can't believe he's back, that's one hell of a reintroduction! 

So good. And then we get that awesome slow vertical pan and just get to see the guy floating as he chills with his organ:

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Hoo boy. And that scene where he brings Daisy back to toy with Viktor, great stuff. 

Something that I mentioned last time was the storage, and yeah, it has started to become an issue again. While it's still much easier to manage, I haven't seen a storage space for my items (such as the one in a base) for a good 5+ hours at this point, and so have been lugging around a full inventory, but I imagine that will change within the next hour or so. While yes, you can abandon items if you find something else you want instead, it's a bit of a pain to have that message asking whether you want to keep an item or not pop up every single time, and it's meant replacing gear with slightly better gear but not being able to build it up, which I felt was important to an extent in the first game, just considering how many characters you'll probably want to kit out. However, something I really do like, and which has made this somewhat manageable, is that when you buy items from stores you can either place them in your bag (shared inventory) or equip them directly to party members. If you're replacing an already equipped item with your purchased item, for example better headgear, then you get the option to either place that item in your bag or sell it immediately to the shopkeeper if you don't want it taking up valuable space. Little touches like these make some of the systems in the first game seem archaic by comparison! Also helps that I'm completely flush with potch without even trying :laughing:

Having a lot of fun with the battles too. Attached the Double Beat rune - which allows a character to double their number of attempted hits in a standard attack - to Nanami, who already hit twice before, so is attempting to attack four times :p I thought of attempting to stack it (not sure if it works), but figured the other one might be better off shoring up another party member. But speaking of battles, I've got to share one of my favourite Unite attack animations so far: Riou and Nanami's Family Attack (the one below is a rare one where Nanami also gets to recover some health). 

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Also, this wouldn't be without one of my posts without mentioning music, so here's some more excellent music: Radat Theme, White Deer Inn Theme, Coronet Theme, the returning Moonlit Night Theme, and Dandy Richmond - one hell of a theme for a private eye, that's for sure! 

Plenty of returning faces, but the new characters feel just as strong, and there's so much connective tissue which makes it all feel so natural. There is something I want to touch upon after having recently visited South Window and Radat, it's speculation more than anything, but it definitely belongs in a spoiler tag:

Spoiler

Okay, so there's an inn called the Toran Inn in South Window, and the Toran Republic was where the first game took place. There have been increasing mentions of it too, such as in Radat, where we learn that Toran is connected by a river to the south. Not to mention a hell of a lot of returning faces from the first game. 

Are they going to pull a Pokémon Gold & Silver and allow us to visit Toran? Bigger question: are we going to get to see Tir?! 

Continuing to have a great time with it, already looking forward to my next session :D

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