This review originally was
presented on lazy.GEEKS (6/16/03)
Well, in my last
review I covered one of my favorite Playstation RPGs, Wild
ARMs, so I figured today would be a good time to cover Suikoden,
the only game I have for the Playstation that could compare with
Wild ARMs that is not call Xenogears. Just like Wild ARMs, I
purchased this game when it first came out and have been playing it
off and on for all of that time.
The story of
Suikoden is not just the story of one world or of one character like
you find in most games. It covers a much broader area. As you play,
you find the 108 Stars of Destiny...pretty much they are 108 people
destined to change the land for the better politically and socially.
Of these 108 characters, about 50 or so have pretty large
involvement in the plot, and the remaining 58 have at least a minor
part in the plot. At the same time, the area of the world you are
in, is currently being ruled by an Emperor who is merely a puppet to
his wife, the Empress...Empress of Evil! You play the role of the
son of one of the top five generals under the emperor (I don't give
a name, as you have to pick your own name...no default name in this
game). On top of all that, there are runes in the world that will
affix themselves to a person and 26 of them grant unparalleled power
to their owner.
So with all that
information, here's what you get; You end up finding one of the 26
True Runes (the Soul Eater...the rune that governs death) in the
possession of your best friend, Ted, who ends up being accosted by
the Empress's men (well the Emperor's men, but we all know who's in
power here) and at the last minute, Ted passes the rune on to you
and you escape from the corrupt empire before you also get captured.
Confused? Well, there's more...next thing you know, you end up
joining a rebellion in order to stay alive, and things get even more
twisted and convoluted.
Long story short,
your rune is the most powerful of the 26 True Runes and the Empress
wants the Soul Eater more than anything and thus you are her prey.
By being so power hungry, she turns the Empire into a corrupt state
that denies freedom to too many, so the rebellion is started, and
due to some plot twists, you become their leader. You end up forming
alliances with several states that make up the Empire and several
races including the Elves, Dwarves, and Kobolds. All the while you
have to face the face that your father is one of the people you most
respect and he is also your enemy. If you're confused, good. This
means you must play the game...which is a very good thing.
The graphics are
typical of RPGs from this era. The in battle graphics consist of 2D
sprites on a 3/4 view field. The graphics look fairly good in
battle, and the special effects look pretty impressive (the magic
spells you cast look like they should...fire looks like fire, and so
In town, you get
the standard 2D RPG look with pretty nice graphics that let you tell
what is what and who is who. Nothing extraordinary here, but nothing
mediocre either. 'Nuff said.
The map screen
however is the one place where the graphics take a slump for the
worse. To let you see far enough on the map (it is a big world with
towns few and far between), they zoomed out to the extent that your
character is comprised of only a couple dozen pixels and towns are
not much bigger. This makes the map look pretty lame, but it does
it's job of letting you see far away successfully, so I can't
impressive graphics are found early on in the game when you enter
the Imperial castle. The floors are highly polished, as any Emperor
would like them to be, and when you walk on said floor, you see a
slightly distorted reflection of yourself. When I first started the
game, this is what truly caught my attention. It is truly a sight to
So, to wrap this
section up, the graphics are pretty much par in almost all areas.
They look like standard graphics for any 2D RPG of its day. Nothing
special and not much that is sub par. Plus, all the graphics do what
they are meant to do. I should also mention, the character portraits
(and all 108 Stars of Destiny and a good 20 or so enemies have
portraits) look really nice. You can tell by looking at the game
that some time went into the portraits...if only some of that time
was used on the world map screen, Suikoden would have been fine
In a word, superb.
In more words...well, the music has the proper feel for every
situation. The music in the Imperial capitol, Gregminster, feels
elegant and sophisticated. As if the Emperor personally picked out
his town's music. The music in the more run-down villages feels more
like the type of music the common people could afford to listen to.
It's not bad music in poor areas, it's just more rustic (or
red-neck). Meanwhile, in dungeons, the music feels tense and like
you are in great danger with every second you remain there. Even the
battle music is well orchestrated; when you fight weak enemies, it
feels like you should be fighting weak enemies; and when you face a
boss, the music makes you feel like you are royally screwed. In a
sentence, some of the best game music I've ever heard.
oriented sounds sound like they should. When you cast magic, you get
nice sounds that fix the spell. If you cast a fire spell, it sounds
like the gentle roar of flames burning, if you cast a water based
spell, it sounds like water dripping or flowing, and so on. I can't
really comment on if the death magic sounds right since I never
heard the sound of death, but it sounds pretty impressive. Also,
when you strike someone with a weapon, the sound corresponds to the
weapon used. Swords sound metallic, arrows sound like the whizzing
sound of arrows flying through the air, etc.
Best of all, in
this game, ambient sounds sound wonderful. When you approach a
fountain, you hear that natural sound of water splashing and
flowing. And when you walk away from said fountain, the sound get
softer until it is no longer in your range of hearing.
is how a game is meant to be played. When you travel around town or
through the world map, it feels like any other RPG from the 2D era.
You walk, you talk, you buy, you sleep in inns, and so on. Nothing
too special, but that is not a bad thing at all...in fact this makes
it feel special.
When you enter
combat though, the game starts to shows it's truly great qualities.
There are three different types of combat in the game. You have your
standard party battles (when you face normal enemies and most
bosses). You next have the kingdom/army battles. In these, your
rebel army faces off against the hoards of the Empire. Last, but not
least, is the one on one duels. This is where you (or one of your
servants in a special instance) face off against generals of the
Empire and try to prove your own personal might.
fights are done in the glorious ways of old school RPGs. You have
standard actions such as attack, use magic, run like a sissy, etc.
Also you have a few innovative features. These include Unite and
Auto. Unite is when two or more people with special ties in your
combat party work together to deal extra damage, hit more enemies,
or cause status ailments to your foe. This adds to the strategy of
forming your party, since even if one character may seem weak,
he/she may prove useful beyond expectations when he/she teams up
with a friend or two (or more). Also, the Auto is quite fun as it
will have all of your people just physically beat down the enemies
without you having to give orders. This is nice when you face off
against weak foes and just want to get it over with without having
to run like a coward. Best of all, as you can tell from the unite
description, you get a nice large combat party...6 people to be
precise. It gives you room for a mage, some tanks to take the
damage, a healer, and a support player (someone to boost stats or
In army battles,
you play a complex game of paper, rock, scissors. Your main options
are either magic (attack magic, that is), charge (melee combat), or
bow (ranged attacks). Like in PRS, one is always better than
another. Bow beats magic beats physical beats bow. You can also
choose to have a spy see the enemies next attack (you only get so
many spies and they can fail you), send a bombardment from dragons
(once you find them), or try to boost your charge attacks with
tacticians. Your strength is primarily based on who you use to lead
each attack and how many troops you have (level means nothing). Even
though it is a quite simplistic design, it is fun beyond words...too
bad there are only a half dozen of these fights in the game.
Last of all in
combat is the duals. Like in army battles, there are only a few of
these, which is a shame as they are quite fun. Pretty much you have
three options and once again it is a game of rock-paper-scissors.
Defense beats special attack beats attack beats defense. You can try
to guess what your opponent will do by listening to his words
between each round. If your opponent says that he will crush you,
you can assume defense will be the way to go, but if he says you are
too strong for him, assume he's going defensive. Unlike army
battles, your level affects duels. So if you keep being beaten, it
usually means you need to gain some levels (there are no duels you
must lose; at least if you want the best ending; even if the game
continues with your loss).
Also, you get the
option in playing Suikoden to upgrade your castle...your rebel
forces need somewhere to call home. If you find someone who builds
elevators and you convince him to join you, your castle will have
elevators. Get a merchant in your castle and you can now buy things
from the comfort of your own home. Also, as your army grows, your
castle will be expanded (when you get all 108 Stars of Destiny, you
need a pretty big castle to house them all).
than those features, Suikoden is pretty typical of old school 2D
RPGs, but as they say (I don't know who says it, but they do) if it
ain't broke, don't fix it. 'Nuff said.
people missed out on this game since it was a 2D RPG in the era of
Final Fantasy 7, but it is never too late to relive a classic. This
game is not too much like it's 3D sequel of Suikoden 3...but once
again, not a bad thing. I have played this game a dozen times or so,
and still play it from time to time (I just finished playing it a
few months ago, for the 12th or 13th time). This game is perfect
blend of political intrigue, personal achievement, and military
strategy all in the setting of medieval fantasy. I wholeheartedly
recommend this game to anyone who feels they are a RPG fan. I
give Suikoden a 9.5 out of 10.