SUIKODEN II – Was it GREAT sequel?
Continuing on the Suikoden series, I will now be looking at Suikoden 2. As you can guess from the number, it is the second installment of the series. However, through a bit of internet digging, I have found out that actually, Suikoden 2 was written before Suikoden. Suikoden acted as a story that sets up the Suikoden universe.Was it a great successor to the Suikoden lore?
Riou (canon name for MC) and Jowy was youth soldiers of the Highland Army. At the night of their final day of camp, their corrupt officer staged an attack to break the treaties between Highland and Jowston. Cornered, the two youths jumped off the cliff into the river. Separated, Riou was found by the mercenaries – Viktor and Flik (returning characters from S1). And Jowy was saved by Pilika and her family in a neighboring town. Reunited, they journeyed back to their homeland only to be branded as traitors and put on death row. Saved by the mercenaries, they traveled back to the fort and found that Luca has invaded.
After an unsuccessful defense of the fort, the party made their way to city-state city of Muse. On their way, Pilika showed them a shrine that her parents guarded. Soon, both Riou and Jowy became true rune bearer. Riou with the Bright Shield Rune and Jowy with the Black Sword Rune. After the events in Muse, Jowy staged a betrayal against the city-state, an event that separates the two best friends.
At the end, Jowy revealed that his betrayal was for a greater future. He believed that one side had to win, and Highland were far more powerful compared to the scattered city-state – the more likely side to winning the war. He wanted to take the helm of Highland (which he did) and instill his idea of peace from within.
Love it. The betrayal of Jowy was the greatest plot twist. Jowy, after his betrayal, was viewed as an antagonist, only to reveal that he did what he did, was for peace. He picked a side that – at that time- was ideal for him to attain peace. One side had to win for it to end. For once, I connected with the “villain” of the game. Jowy was not all dark. If Highland won, will Jowy put the land under chaos and war or will there be peace that is no different as if the Riou won?
Luca Blight, however, was all dark. But his nickname “Mad Prince” was not without a good backstory. He witnessed his father turn coward and left him and his mother at the hands of the evil. He watched as his mother was raped multiple times and later discovered that they were hired by Muse. Thus, his hatred grew against the city-state and turning him into the “Mad Prince” – an embodiment of cruelty and blood lust.
The game has spinoffs, Genso Suikogaiden Volumes 1 and 2 and also have light novels. These titles may shed some light to my gripe against Windy and Barbarossa’s story and death. However, I am unable to read Japanese. So any references of spinoffs and novels that are not available in English, is purely based on synopsis found on the Suikoden Wikia page. And I found no story to answer my questions on the antagonists’ deaths as both character pages have their deaths go “last seen jumping off Gregminster Palace and no body was found”. They might have teleported away as I suspected or burnt to ashes along with the castle.
As Suikoden 2 was a direct sequel to Suikoden, the game retained its Chinese aesthetics. The MC even had the SunWuKong-like circlet. Also following tradition, the MC arms himself with a stick-like weapon – in this case, the tonfa. The small towns were also designed to be akin to the Chinese buildings. However, bigger cities and the Highland were more medieval.
I am very much in love with the song Reminisce from this game. It has many versions – the one I loved was from the Vocal collection. Even then, the song without the vocals (present in the game) has succesfully carried the emotions of Riou and Jowy, their memories as best friends, and their sadness because they have to fight – to uphold their ideals for the kingdom.
The battle system was similar to its predecessor. The return of 6 man party that can be made with the 108 recruits. The difference was that now each character is able to hold three runes – Head, Left and Right hand. However, the difficulty was not improved. In total, I had a game over once and that was the fight against Luca Blight. However, it was easily solved just by a re-shuffling of the party. During that arc, we got to choose 3 parties, thus using 18 fighters. The mistake I did was to putting too many strong members in the first two and I thought the third was to “finish him off”. However, only at the third fight that he got stronger instead of weaker. But for the subsequent boss fights and even the final boss, was very easy.
My Final Party:
What did I love- Most definitely, the story! It was to me one of the most enjoyable and deep story from a game. It deviates from the cookie-cutter save the “xxxx” formula of other games. The finding and recruiting of the 108 stars was also huge part of my enjoyment. I do enjoy a bit of collecting of characters without mindless grinding.
Did it successfully acted as a foundation for the series? Yes, to an extent. Suikoden 2 had returning (and cameo appearances) of characters from Suikoden. However, the story only go so far. The kingdom that Tir McDohl saved acted as a closed off kingdom. And not willing to be involved in the conflicts in Suikoden II. Therefore, I would say that Suikoden has successfully acted as a foundation, as in it created the environment to the next game. Suikoden served as the basis of the in-game lores, however, has very little effect on the story of Suikoden 2.
Based on 1 of the 4 great literature of Chinese culture: How did it do? ‘Water Margin’-ally Great!
I have decided to revisit my love for the Suikoden series. HUGE huge fan of the Suikoden series. Suikoden was the first ever Konami RPG game. In actuality, Suikoden 2 was written before Suikoden. The developers decided to write a prequel as a mean to get experience on in-game development. Thus, it meant that the story of Suikoden sets up the whole Suikoden universe. Did it successfully acted as a foundation for the series?
In this game, you control a silent protagonist, whose canon name is Tir McDohl. His adventure started as he was enlisted into the army, serving under a corrupt commander. His best friend, Ted, bears a true rune, which the evil court magician wants. In order to protect the true rune, Ted passed the true rune unto Tir and acted as a decoy for his best friend to escape.
With the true rune in hand and as a fugitive, Tir was founded by the rebel army. He succeeded Odessa as the leader of the rebel army and went against the kingdom to bring peace and rid corruption to the land. Major portion of the game was Tir going around enlisting help for the rebellion.
The once beloved king was believed to be under the magic of court magician, started making strange decisions. However, at the end, he was merely acting out of affection for the court magician. A love story for the antagonists. His power was the Sovereign rune, granted him the power to transform into the final boss of the game. After being defeated by the rebellion, he grabbed Windy and jumped off the castle – never to be seen again. Windy had the power to transport herself, I am sure she can just teleport away as they sky dive from the castle walls. Did they die? Or survive?
The story was great – the politics, the plotting. It was a fresh take on traditional save the princess RPG that was abound during the era. However, I did not have love for antagonists’ story. King Barbarossa reason to being an antagonist was merely out of love whose feeling came about as the Windy looked like his late wife. Really? The kingdom and its citizens versus feelings for a look-alike who did not reciprocate the same feelings he wished. Bad BAD king, to think he was once a ‘beloved’ hero.
The game has a very oriental vibe incorporated – from the music to the aesthetics. Mostly due to the main characters’ choice of clothes. They even had the Tir redesigned to using a bo staff instead of sword in order to stay to the oriental premises of the game design. This decision to go oriental was due to the game being based on the chinese novel, 水滸傳[Water Margin].
Water Margin is a story of outlaws, 108 to be precise, forming an army against invaders. It is one of the great four classics of Chinese literature. The game borrowed much of its foundation from the book. The game was set to 108 stars of destiny forming an army and fighting against an enemy.
In this game, we can recruit a total of 108 characters to fight with. But at the end of the game, we were forced to take up Viktor and Flik as final members against the final boss. So out of 50(or so) fighters , we only get to pick 3 favorites. Not to mention, we are pretty much stuck with Gremio for majority of the game.
Battles in this game is just a basic 6 man team formation with the usual: Attack, Magic, Item, Run options that you would find in a japanese RPG. Runes allow the modification of a character that essentially any character would work the same (unless they have unique runes). Unique runes are visually different yet none of them really stand out, damage and utility wise (other than the Falcon Rune).
The game was very VERY easy. Bosses drop like flies. Even the final boss. Too easy that there was no challenges ever posed in the game. And no grinding ever required to achieve those boss-smattering status Not even the mini games were hard. Actually the mini game, Chinchirorin, was purely lucked based and the only annoying aspect off the game.
The story. It goes against the cliche “save the princess/world” story that you would hear of countless times in Japanese anime/games of the old era. And being an avid lover of collecting/recruiting type of games (ie Digimon, Pokemon), I really love the recruiting aspect of the game.