'koden korner

I would like to make a new thread on Suikoden since I nearly derailed someone else's nice thread talking about it. In this thread please post your experiences with Suikoden, your Suikoden opinions and any Suikoden-related ephemera that you may have in your possession. Has anyone played Suikoden on the Saturn and what is it like.

  • - Suikoden I: This is a good ass game, one of the shortest “RPGs” you can play, around 20 hours; the story has you leading a revolutionary army of cast-offs and weirdos that never feels very big. There are only around five boss battles. The main character gets a magic rune that makes him powerful but kills people who are close to him. A cool, stripped-down, punk rock RPG of a video game. Yoshitaka Murayama, the series' writer and creator, also did some programming on this. Jeff Gerstmann of Gamespot considered it “a good warm-up” for Final Fantasy VII.
  • - Suikoden II: This is one of my favorite games. It is remarkable in the way that all of the narrative action is triggered by the principal characters just reacting to one another. The game spends five (OK more like 10) hours establishing everyone's motivations, then winds it up and just watches it go. Is written by a person who had clearly ingested a lot of classical literature and history. Many plot points just feel like "OK this definitely actually happened at some point." The massacre that opens the game and serves as the pretext for a "defensive war" by the Kingdom of Highland is for example paralleled by the 1939 Gleiwitz Incident, in which Nazi Germany dressed convicts as Polish soldiers, had them "attack" a German radio station, then machine-gunned them. Has some interesting things to say about why wars start and why they seemingly go on forever once they do. You spend the first part of the game being pushed around by war, basically as a refugee, before accidentally inheriting a powerful magic rune that compels you to become a principal actor. You can recruit the hero from the first game. It uses pixel art on the Playstation after Murayama "wasn't impressed" with early demos of polygon models. There are dozens of bespoke animations in the game that are seen exactly once. You can end the game 3/4 of the way through, just walk away, if you feel like it. Like the original, there is no fluff, no sidequests, just the main story and recruiting characters for your army. You can play it rag-tag style like the first game or build a huge army and have a huge awesome castle to hang out in if you want. The characters look almost deliberately plain and uncool, basically anti-Nomura, compared with a contemporary like FFVIII. The music is outstanding if you like intensely melodic, pseudo-pop Uematsu-style stuff, or maybe mid-period Motoi Sakuraba, but it might not be for you if you prefer Hitoshi Sakimoto to Uematsu, though ironically composer Miki Higashino's music for Gradius compelled Sakimoto to want to become a game composer.
  • - Suikoden III: I played this one a long time ago and I know @yeso recommends it. At the time I was pissed off about the ugly polygons and 3D and no Miki Higashino music. The last Suikoden game written by Murayama, though they took his name out of the credits, apparently because he left before the game was completed. Another thing I was mad about. Has a "Trinity Sight" system where you switch between different parties, kind of like the part in FFVI after Sabin falls off the raft, but you are often observing the same event from a different perspective. I don't like the music at all.
  • - Suikoden IV: This was directed by Junko Kawano, character designer for the first Suikoden. I didn't really have a good time with this one though I don't remember it much. The only thing I remember is you can equip the True Holy Rune and run like comically fast
  • - Suikoden V: This was meant to be a return to form in the style of the first two games, so it's back to six-character parties and the music is OK. I know a lot of people like this one but I don't remember it.
  • Here is a pic of some early character designs for the main character of the second game that I took out of a Suikoden artbook I have.


    The Suikoden 1-2 punch is all-time for sure. Being able to recruit your hero from 1 (with the insane thing where the first letter of what you had named him replaces the first letter of McDohl. my hero, RcDohl) was incredibly cool. Least favorite thing about the series is you basically need Gamefaqs to recruit everyone although I think it got a lot more loose about having “missable” characters in the later games, they could still be fairly obscure. One of the best parts for sure is how quick the battles are (especially in 1 and 2) and how well the catch-up leveling mechanic works if you just recruited some low-level person you want up to snuff.

    I was a big fan of 3 as well and thought the Trinity system was cool, especially with the weird characters like the semi-hidden dog you could play as or the clerk fella who just hangs around your town and clerks things. The callback villain who you control in the final scenario was neat to me at the time as well. Haven't revisited though!

    4 gets a lot of (mostly deserved) flak for being glacially slow and kinda boring. Playing on an emulator where you can fast forward in the boat would help a lot with the first, wouldn't do much with the second. It's hard to remember much about the story other than Ted from 1 showing up as well as your friend's alignment path changing depending on the choices you make. Oddly enough, the spinoff/sequel, Suikoden Tactics, fleshed the world out a little which made me appreciate 4 itself just a bit more.

    5 has a very slow start and although by most accounts seems like a return to form, it's the only one I never finished! When I played it I got to a part that I hate in every JRPG, where you're forced to form like 3 parties of characters you haven't touched to go through a huge dungeon. The leveling wouldn't have been so bad, but needing the money to kit them all out made me put it down at the time and I never revisited. Keep meaning to since this is definitely one of my favorite series' of all time. Excited for Eiyuden!

    Suikoden I->III amazing stuff. Will have time after holiday to write more.

    III is a little tough to get into bc of early PS2 awkwardness but it’s great. I like the big duck guys.

    V is good but it’s the most sentimental. Still has some of the surprising sense of danger and violence the other games have, but it’s a little less edgy in that regard.

    Would also say that the 3D games have a clear and uncomplicated design that I enjoy and really benefits from cranking up the texture res in pcsx

    I’ve only played 2 and loved it, despite coming to it many years after release. Never finished it. Want to. I just wanted to say it was fascinating reading the quick retrospective in @tapevulture#11727 opening post. Getting that whole history so quickly really reveals the nature of how these series can change over the years for better or worse. This really paralleled the history of FF, which I know much better.

    I'm a Suikoden poser…….

    I loved _Suikoden II_ when I was younger and while I've tried here and there to beat it I've never gotten nearly as far as I have in one longer playthrough when I was younger, pretty sure I got stonewalled by the last boss and would have needed to grind or something.

    I got ADHD and wasn't diagnosed until I was 23 (have you ever heard of a GAMER who had undiagnosed ADHD and couldn't finish JRPGS??) and _Suikoden II_ would not be the only dozens of hours long JRPG that I got more than halfway through if not immediately before the last boss and never finished, maybe sometimes because I'd not want to let the experience end just yet or wanted to do endgame stuff and didn't feel I was totally done unless I did that, but then I'd immediately drift away and never come back and eventually with a pang of regret delete my save file to make room for something. Also partly because I couldn't afford a second memory card and I had little tolerance for monotony and thus grinding was never an option.

    Examples include:

  • 1. Suikoden II
  • 2. Final Fantasy IX
  • 3. Chrono Cross
  • 4. Breath of Fire III
  • 5. Grandia
  • 6. Grandia II
  • 7. Legend of Dragoon, which is the funniest example, because I distinctly remember thinking "oh there's a lot of suggestion that this is the last save point before the last battle, I'm gonna.............. do this tomorrow" and then just never playing the game ever again lmao.
  • And I've only gone back to beat some of those when I was enough into adulthood to be able to find a copy on Ebay or emulate it or something, and I had the patience to tolerate grinding to manage to beat a game if I needed to. This even includes some of my favourite games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 7, Legend of Legaia... Like, I know pretty much every JRPG fan who has ADHD has at least one game if not several they say is one of their favourite games without ever actually having beaten it. That's ok!! I often wish I could get into a Dragon Ball style Hyperbolic Time Chamber with a PS1 and a CRT and just come out having beaten every game particularly from that era I've ever had even a passing interest in but I guess that's not realistic.

    ANYWAY. To some degree, though, I almost feel like I'm hesitant to really go deep back into Suikoden II 'cause I don't know if it will ever stand up to how good I thought it was at a kid, even if it is really good. I remember feeling that Luca Blight in particular had this overwhelming threatening presence in the game and that every encounter with him was chilling and brought a real sense of danger. Sometimes I think it's because I don't want to have to recontextualize that memory as just being easier to impress as a kid. I mean......... his name is Luca _Blight...._

    But also damn, who out there was more scared of Luca Blight as a kid than Sephiroth?? Who out there knows that George "R" "R" Martin didn't invent dark low fantasy, Luca Blight did?? Like share and subscribe if Luca Blight would beat Kefka in a fight

    Thank you all and welcome to the Suikoden Posters' Alliance.

    Negative opinions on the games are welcome as well. There is a small online community around the games but it's pretty nostalgia-driven and there's not a lot of discussion on what makes them good or bad.

    @ttzop#11728 Hell yeah, I had AcDohl. Yeah I think if the series had caught on more the games could have been a cool playground lore-sharing space, you know, oh to get her you have to go back later but bring such and such character with you. But it is really hard to get them all without a guide. I think this point becomes an interesting one when thinking about what the "real" or at least intended endings are for I and II, since they change depending on whether you got them all, and the most common use case is of course playing the game once and not getting them all. In II for example the most narratively appropriate ending feels like the one you get if you _don't_ get them all, even though I never do that one for sentimental reasons.

    I'm very hyped for Eiyuden and I'm following the development closely. It's never going to be as good as II in my mind, so I'm trying to ignore the gut reactions I have about stuff like the characters being too anime. Just trying to enjoy it. I think it's also going to be interesting as a case study on semi-public game development, as all Kickstarters are. I backed it of course but I don't care at all about them meeting the milestones or whatever and would happily wait through years of delays for them to make the game they want to. Still Murayama took great pains to emphasize that the core team members are all pros and to just trust them. Personally I think it's going to be delayed and I have a morbid curiosity about how people are going to react to that

    @yeso#11733 Yeah I also like the duck folk, Sgt. Joe is the first thing I think of when thinking about the game

    @CidNight#11742 Thanks. I'd be really interested to read what you see the parallels as being. My assessment of the key figures, which admittedly combines my own assumptions with some factual info pulled from interviews and like the timelines of key figures leaving, is that Murayama was burned out after II. In one interview he says that he probably lost several years of his life from being overworked during II's development. He personally wrote every line of NPC dialogue in II and says he began hallucinating at some points and late at night could actually hear people speaking the lines he was writing. Higashino has said the amount of work she was assigned for II was "irresponsible" and after II, she hasn't really done anything with game music excepting some smaller-scale, one-off projects. Fumi Ishikawa hasn't really done anything. I don't know the anything near the full story though and I admit I'm inclined to victimize Murayama at the expense of the money-grubbers who obviously run Konami now.

    The way I understand FF's timeline is: Sakaguchi was pushed out after Spirits Within, Uematsu got tired of the huge workloads and lack of creative latitude and left, Nojima got tired of the huge workloads and left, and Kitase and Nomura have more or less ingratiated themselves with management by making profitable games. Like a lot of people my take is that the series has gotten worse as Nomura has become more powerful.

    @Gaagaagiins#11745 Totally get this feeling although I don't have ADHD. To me Luca works because of how localized the conflict in II, so the whole thing just feels more believable, and because analogues for his character are found pretty easily in a collection of history's greatest monsters, up to and including childhood trauma producing psycho adult. Luca would beat Kefka I'm pretty sure yeah

    @tapevulture#11762 I think this is all spot on about FF. I don’t think I have as much knowledge as you about the personalities involved, but I just thought it was interesting that, as in FF, you see these trends play out from game to game that are related to stuff completely separate from the game itself. Staff changes, cultural shifts, market shifts, new technologies and system generations can all have this huge effect on a series. Much more of an effect than you might guess just looking at the numbers tick up from 3 to 4 to 5, and so on. I agree very much that FF has struggled to keep me engaged since at least FF12, and if I’m being honest, my patience began to erode as far back as FF8. I remember feeling strange because I didn’t think that FF9 was a “return to form”, but instead somehow just felt even more foreign to me. I’m rambling at this point but thanks for your perspective!

    @CidNight#11772 yeah. I feel like the PSX Final Fantasies remain good in spite of some of the key team members‘ worst instincts. Kitase and Sakaguchi pretty clearly wanted to make game-movie hybrids and obviously their attempts at that, e.g. the FMVs in VII or the mouth movements for characters in the English version of X, pretty much fall flat when you view them these days. And furthermore I don’t feel that games as a medium were in any way really advanced by these attempts. But they remain really compelling stories. Nothing will ever diminish that VII, in a fuckin 1997 fantasy video game RPG from Japan, explored the consequences of the military industrial complex at the global (environmental catastrophe) and local (Cloud's life) levels. Pretty neat!

    I think it's really funny and fitting that a post about one JRPG franchise still somehow gravitated back towards Final Fantasy.

    @Gaagaagiins#11799 Haha, my fault this time.

    @CidNight#11859 Nonsense! I blame Final Fantasy.

    might be interesting to contrast FF with suikoden. After all VIII kind of smothered suikoden IIs release correct?

    One thing I think suikoden does differently from FF is commit to something like a real ideology or moral framework. I get the impression that when FF approaches those themes they're more of a style than something really believed. Could be bc FF always spins off into cosmic eschatological stuff whereas suikoden stays (relatively)grounded.

    In fact one of the reasons II and III stand out to me the fact that the PCs are more or less proles. Even in I and V the royal/aristocratic protags are under attack/slumming it. You also spend time building little communities connected to and supporting your field-going party's adventures. I like that cooks, elevator attendants, shopkeepers etc are part of your group.


    @tapevulture#11727 Is written by a person who had clearly

    Yes I think the games are very successful in expressing this. I love that the games include all these high, low, and oddball characters the way certain historical or picaresque novels do. Like mons and mdme thenardier in les miserables (THE NOVEL)


    @yeso#11895 I like that cooks, elevator attendants, shopkeepers etc are part of your group.

    This is a great point and a mark of something that does make it special. I wonder how many JRPGs manage to mostly avoid the fantasy trope of the playable characters being almost all staunchly benevolent aristocrats and royalty, or Heroes of Legend and Destiny. Spoilers for the first 5 hours of _Chrono Trigger_, but it only has one! Or two, depending on your definition of aristocracy. Crono is really just some guy who likes katanas for seemingly no reason and who is just a buddy of the real protagonist of _Chrono Trigger_, Lucca.

    Well, I guess technically Suikoden does that too... but it is definitely cool that with such a high number it has no problem including lots of normal folks swept up in the state of the world.

    I haven't been paying attention to it since near the beginning of the Kickstarter campaign, is anyone keeping tabs on how _Eiyuuden Chronicles_ is looking? I remember reading the pitch and thinking they were pretty open and frank about a lot of serious problems that have gone down with Kickstarter games, especially ones poised as spiritual successors to beloved dormant franchises. I wanted to back it but couldn't really justify spending the money on it.

    @yeso#11898 Yeah I love Kirke in the first game. He‘s like “well what I do is cut off heads,” and you go OK well will you join my group? And he’s like “are you sure? truly all i can do is cut off heads.” there‘s a nugget of profundity in that, related to your sense of worth being determined by your social class, and actually a theme of the first game, as a player, has to be that people can transcend their circumstances if only given the opportunity. in the first game I’m not sure whether that‘s intentional on the part of Murayama but in the second game I’m certain it is.

    actually intention is really important to me when critiquing games. to compare Suikoden and FF, first of all I don't know how to place FFVII, which is a political statement so plain that it's basically pure allegory. the world is run by an industrial conglomerate that converts the _life force_ of the planet into capital. the planet starts to die and defends itself by creating monsters to attack the humans. there's never even a mention of representative government or how shinra overtook it; it just is. the capital city is structured into two tiers: the rich live on top and have access to sunlight; the poor live on the bottom in filthy slums. shinra's scientific experiments go too far and accidentally create super soldiers that return to destroy it. etc. this is some jurassic park shit. in interviews with the creators they say the theme of the game is "life," whatever that means; anyway, it doesn't jibe at all with the basic premise of the story, so either they're being coy or someone, maybe kazushige nojima, snuck the criticism of capitalism in.

    VII is a huge outlier and from that perspective i truly don't understand it. the rest of the series is pure spectacle and from the PSX onward are tech-driven spectacle (the least-enduring kind). although i'm not sure about X since i'm not done replaying it yet. i love VIII for...reasons, but as an example it's a story about teenagers who were recruited into a mercenary soldier training school straight out of an orphanage, the basic ethics of which are never once even discussed. as you say, style with no substance. the theme of the game is, officially, "love" (lol)

    the early suikoden games feel like proto indie games to me just in that they're _so_ purposeful and are largely the brainchild of one person with a clear vision, basically the opposite of FF. as moral statements they take one step beyond "do the right thing" and explore what "the right thing" really is. if you look at II, the right thing is probably something like: do the best you can in the situations you find yourself in, but don't go trying to orchestrate events or you'll become the bad guy yourself. a really smart observation on both history and politics actually. i'm sure there's a reference to Machiavelli to make here but i haven't read him

    politically they take the despairing view that events are largely driven by psychopaths who are either convinced of their own greatness (Jowy, Luca, Barbarossa) or just see everything as an opportunity for personal advancement (Gorudo, Rowd, the Tinto mayor guy, Shu). and they take the comforting but plainly incorrect view that these people can be defeated or learn the error of their ways. and that they are countered by literal heroes. Viktor is Pancho Villa before he turned into an asshole, for example. Unfortunately this kind of person never really existed and there are basically no revolutionary figures that I know of who didn't commit a massacre or some monstrous act at some point. Circling back to the idea that you should do the best you can, but always within a limited scope.

    The class stuff I don't know what to attribute to intent and what's just the product of adapting Shui Hu Zhuan into a game. But I can't imagine Murayama not finding it delicious to populate your group with executioners, sex workers, gamblers, thieves and others living on the margins of society. Again it's a really positive view of history, one that isn't borne out at all but nevertheless one that I find comforting and immensely entertaining. Suikoden 4 life

    @Gaagaagiins#11908 it‘s looking good in my view but who knows. i read the monthly updates. i don’t care at all about them delivering on schedule or whatever but i know delays and cutting promised features irks a lot of people. it‘s clearly meant to pick up where suikoden II left off. since the game was funded at 10x the level of the initial ask they added all these stretch goals to the game that actually don’t interest me much. for instance there‘s supposed to be this “companion game” thing they’re developing now that allows you to i think build a town and interact with some of the characters before the actual game comes out, i don‘t know. on the whole the character designs are a little too modern anime for my taste and i’m not big on the music they‘re shared so far since it’s pretty standard modern japanese game music which tends to blend strings with like tonally inappropriate nasty electric guitar noodling. i‘m about to find out how much of my love for II is murayama’s writing and how much of it is miki higashino music and pixel art, lol

    @Gaagaagiins#11908 this shark guy from Eiyuden rocks


    @tapevulture#11914 I feel that that shark guy will protect me

    @tapevulture#11912 I'm loathe to continue hosting a parasitic sideboard conversation about FF on a post about Suikoden but I feel I could make a case that FFX has a good deal of substance, at least, it resonates with me in a substantial way, even if I may have to inevitably admit it still abstracts things a good deal with more fantastical elements and what I personally read into it is probably reading a good deal, Into It

    Ok, this might be the place to ask the question that's been on my mind for awhile:

    I haven't played any Suikoden games because I feel like I should read Water Margin first. I've read the other three of the 四大名著, so I guess I have no choice but to read Water Margin eventually. However, it's really long, and I have a lot of other books to read, so that might not be for awhile. I mean, I am sure you don't need to have read the book to enjoy the games, but since I'm going to read the book anyways, I keep feeling that I ought to put the games off until I read it?

    Does anyone whose read the book and played the Suikoden games have an opinion about this? I've managed to keep myself from getting even a tiny bit spoiled about what the games are like (and therefore haven't read any posts in this thread thus far), so I have no idea how related they are to the book. Are they distinct enough that I might as well go ahead and play them?