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.
Welcome to the Digital World!
Digimon! I am a fan of monster collecting games, and out of the 2 well-known franchises..I definitely side with Digimon.
The Digimon franchise have underwent many gameplay changes, changing from each game. But Digimon World: Next Order is definitely an ode to the very first Digimon World franchise. And I LOVE it!
The story is very simple. And smartly simple too. The writers have cleverly hidden the main villain till the last chapter (though for a very short of time too). The Digital World is threatened by a virus that causes the affected Digimon to leave and forget the city. And so a digimon-passionate youth was sucked into the Digital World and journeys to restore the Digital City. The virus has also turned a few of the inhabitants to turn berserk and threatening the livelihood of the Digital World’s inhabitants. Unknowing that the mask behind the virus was a power hungry maniac who lost his mind..for a very childish reason too! The ending dialogue was a painful exchanges of awkward forgive you-forgive me…It was painful to go through, definitely an ending I did not expect (in a bad way).
SPOILER: Ending Dialogue video (Credits to Primera Espada)
Another SPOILER: I think Mameo is the main character from the first Digimon World (1). His clothes(yellow clothes and black beanie…Sounds familiar?)…and his love for Mamemon, which was somewhat of the mascot back in Digimon World.
The story was a simple but the breeding definitely wasn’t!
The Digimon breeding was so complicated, I had to have pen and paper with me and also the magical mr.Google.
Certain stats, precise reborns, specific conditions, causes the Digimon to evolve(digivolve) into a specific Digimon. There were times when I wanted a certain Digimon, following the laid out plan from my paper and the website…and still it digivolves into a being I did not expect it to. And then realized that it was because I had not let it poop in the wilderness enough. Of course, at end game, we get to manipulate this process through a game function.
Battles start as you touch an enemy. A circle ring will materialize and your two -mons will freely move in that ring, crushing the enemy with the power of the bond between the tamer and the -mons. In actuality, most of the battle system involves mashing the X Button at the right time and then do a finishing move that wipes out almost all opponent…so it was easy. And sometimes even when you have lost the fight, your partner will somehow fuse into one and become badass-mon and wipe the already weakened opponent. So…yeah, that was easy.
Of course, you need to plan before every excursion into the Digital World. Not enough food? Sickness awaits. Incompatible terrain? Sickness awaits. Haphazard pooping? Sickness awaits. Always carry a band-aid! or death comes a step closer for your -mons. But don’t worry, they get stronger than ever from each death.
I could keep on playing this game, but the ending has somehow dampened my mood to further delve into post-game so I only spent 3 hours on post-game. Besides that…after a very food stuffing abuse, my -mons were obviously too overpowered where the final boss and a few of post-game recruitable -mons were easily beaten. That certainly took much from the replay value…for me.
Fans of the first Digimon World, will definitely love this. The battle gameplay is a certainly a development update from the that game.(and another Digimon Re:Digitize on 3DS). There also various odes to the first game, from the system sounds to the characters.
Lost Odyssey: Hironobu Sakaguchi – A lost gem for SquareEnix
Lost Odyssey is one the few traditional JRPGs to be released on the Xbox360. It was developed by Mistwalker, which was headed by Hironobu Sakaguchi – the father of the Final Fantasy series. Lost Odyssey was his first RPG, since leaving Square Enix. This created a following and the anticipation for the game’s release from the fans of early Final Fantasy release, which was largely due to way the Final Fantasy series has changed.. Furthermore, the team developing this game also included the now-defunct Nautilus – developers of memorable JRPgs such as the Shadow Heart series (one of my favorites) and the Legend of the Dragoon (a highly acclaimed JPRG on the PSX). So what could go wrong? Nothing! I have thoroughly enjoyed Lost Odyssey.
Story! Lost Odyssey story was what stood out for me. Lost Odyssey follows a group of “immortals” take back their memories. The group is then joined with mortals who are closely tied to their memories. The story has a very emotional moments for me – Lirum’s Death and the epilogue. The epilogue really shows that every character in the party has gone through a very fitting character development. (I still fail to understand what is the purpose of Vaan where he is not really tied much into the story and yet is a main character – well, I will be playing the the Zodiac Age remaster to find out~)
The main story involves Kaim and his immortal friends regaining their memories – where they are observers from another universe. As time flows differently, in the current world, they are made to be immortals. And being immortals, is not easy. They outlive their loved ones, goes through changes of time and could only observe. Eternal rest is never easily attainable. Also with lots of power and time, the mind corrupts, therein created a threat to the land. And only the immortals could stop it. Equipped with the desire to protect their loved ones, his legacy, her love and her people. They fight.
The idea of creating a main character that is an amnesiac 1000 years old allowed the writer to tell many stories – which was done through the dreams. Dreams are sort-of like a visual novel where Kaim, recounts his memories acquired throughout his thousand years. These short dreams were very, – highly emotional. I could remember the story of man who was imprisoned so long, burnt his eyes at the first sight of freedom and sunlight. Or the story of the “Upstreamers” who journeys a never-ending journey.
Each “Dream” Kaim has, serves a different moral to the story. Kaim was like a blank slate wherein his 100 years, he experiences different things – each teaching a different lesson and invoke a different emotion.
Youtube user ATYoD has uploaded all 33 dreams on his page.
Gameplay was very basic. Turn-based strategy, where in the battle characters would wait for their turn to beat the crap out of the enemies. Their Aim Ring System was relatively easy. The system allows for bonus damage or ailments atop of the basic attack. A perfect trigger would create most advantage. Think of it sort of like the GunBlade from FF8. Other than attacking, the battle is a traditional turn-based RPG where you command your characters to do an action. Skills, Magic and Item usage does not use/trigger the Aim Ring System.
Characters are divided into 2 types: Immortals and Mortals. Immortals are able to learn all skills by learning from the Mortals and/or from accessories. Much like the AP system of Final Fantasy 9. Although they are able to learn everything, the immortals are still locked to the traditional warrior/mage build. Warrior immortals can never be a mage and vice versa, which makes the infinite possibilities of skill build redundant as they can only be what they are determined to be.
It is very easy to be over-powered in the game, which I regretted. Having attempted the side quests/DLC before the final boss, puts you in a position where the boss is just WAY TOO easy. You would figure the side quests to be hard, but it wasn’t. I attempted them under-leveled and yet manage to survive battles that provide much EXP that slowly the party gets strong enough to finish through the side quest and then break the game.
Graphics were at the top during the game’s release. However, there were some who had issues on the loading times, though being patient, I do not find it much of a deal-breaker.
Nobuo Eumatsu…the godfather of Final Fantasy music scored this game. Need I say more? I enjoyed 2 particular OST – Howl of the Departed (Final Boss Theme) and “Dark Saint Battle”. It makes the near-ending boss battles seemed way epic.
“Howl of the Departed” has choir, rock and a rapping Satan – Who would have guessed choir and rap sounds good together. Though I am a simple mind…hair-standing choir chorus has always been present in game music and yet I find these soul-igniting choruses makes almost any battle music sound so awesomely epic.
“Dark Saint Battle” was only used a few times near the ending and yet it is so memorable. The use of a cowbell-like sounding instruments made it so unique and I couldn’t get enough of it. And of course, being a boss battle music, it tied to deliver an epic battle…but the Dark Saints weren’t that much of a threat and only confronted the party once, so the emotions the music delivered was not delivered through this battle. I mean it was just a battle against lesser unknown, none threatening, final boss lackey and yet the music used was so epic I would have used it on a much bigger, more awesome boss.
Story was great but I do not like the character design at all. Kaim has a weird, androgynous clothing on. Mack looks like a girl, especially if you equip him with magic-teaching accessories. Cookie sounded weird. Seth is a bad ass pirate…with a simple sun dress. And Sarah has glasses on – I mean Kaim could survive a meteor crashing on him and Sarah couldn’t get her eyes fixed?
Kiyoshi Shigematsu has really done a great job on penning these emotional and rich short stories. I much prefer them than the main plots of the game. I wished these dreams were narrated. I would think these stories, accompanied with emotional narration would create a more memorable, emotional impact.
I would think – with the battle system – Lost Odyssey was the true successor to the Final Fantasy series. I would think so as Lost Odyssey was created by creator of past Final Fantasies. I will rant about the Final Fantasy transitioning to an action-game in another post.