Review By: Joel Fajardo
When Beyond the Beyond was completed shortly after the launch
of the original PlayStation, gamers were anticipating a timeless game on
a hopeful system from an established company. But Beyond the Beyond turned
out to be what most gamers dreaded-a new generation of games-away from a
Nintendo console, mind you-that lost sight of what was important in a video
game. Fun, primarily, and for an RPG, a great storyline and classic adventure.
It suffered in every which way possible and left gamers with a bad taste
for next-generation gaming and more historically in this industry, it left
them with an even worse taste for 2D games on a should-be 3D system. Because
it was not only the plot that suffered, but it was the graphics and sound
well, let's not get too absorbed into those loathsome times.
But beyond Beyond the Beyond (catchy, eh?) there was Suikoden. And Suikoden,
yes, it was good. It was the Messiah of the 2D classic gaming-if you will-and
it was the first pure RPG that was of a high quality on the next-generation
consoles. It was a huge game with simply a maddening spectrum of character
personalities. And gaining all those characters (108, was it?), and building
your own castle, and battling gruesome monsters. Ahh. It was a success in
all regards and instantly gave impunity to PlayStation for the miseries of
Beyond the Beyond.
Suikoden II, another Konami klassic, follows the steps of its predecessors,
and quite literally. There is simply no doubt that this is Suikoden II-the
graphics are virtually the same, the sound is identical (if not slightly
worse), the story is very much a clone of the previous game, and you still
collect the menagerie of characters that you did before. But don't shun it
just yet, because it is like Suikoden I as I just mentioned. And that makes
it a masterpiece. Fun and adventurous, riveting and shocking. The storyline
still is deep and emotional and everything else that you loved about the
first one. It still is that crazy game Suikoden I, just done a whole lot
better this time around, with nearly twice the hours of gameplay.
But I only plan to brief you on the plot before I go into the detail about
the game's other aspects that most of you avid gamers like to hear. You are
the hero, whose name you choose-for the sake of this review, let's go with
Zevorium, my character's name-and are a dedicated soldier of the Highland
Army. Political warfare is going on between the City-State and Highland,
and negotiations fail. A treaty is broken and Zevorium and (his best friend)
Jowy's camp is invaded. Go ahead, scream. Ah! To the gamer's surprise (note
the sarcasm), the two get separated and then reunite. The story unfolds from
It's all about politics and kings and treaties, betrayal and whatnot such
as the first game was.
If not for its excellent presentation, the game would not attract such a
large crowd. Before playing the game you are treated to a moderately nice
intro that briefs you on the game's elements. And when actually playing the
game, you notice that the quality of graphic design is only marginally better
than Suikoden I. Character design is essentially the same (Zevorium, this
game's hero, looks quite like the one from the original Suikoden) as are
the towns and cities. The architecture, however, is slightly more popping
and 3D than the first. So your eyes don't focus so much on the mechanical
flatness that was mildly apparent in the first. In addition, all the animation
is executed and drawn just as well as the first, with the addition of some
FMV scenes during fundamental parts of the game's story.
In respect to Konami, there are many ardent fans that simply cherish Konami's
tunes. Both in the Castlevania series and others. But save a few occasions,
I just didn't really feel that pizzazz that brings you into the moment of
battle or on the brink of tears. And isn't that what makes an RPG so wonderful?
It reminded me more of some scratchy MP3s that seemed just to be thrown into
the game at a moment's notice.
"Hey Ogasara," the game's US producer is called, "we forgot to put sound
in this game!"
"No problem guys, I've got some MP3s right here from some unreleased Saturn
But everything other than that is fine. Controlling the game is easy, but
tedious at times when you must incessantly equip and unequip party members-and
trust me, there are many. Also, the game's rune magic system is the same
as the first, so those who played the first will feel right at home with
This is where the game takes off though. That Suikoden II is so much like
Suikoden I is a wonderful thing when you get your castle. Building your castle
is so much more fun than the first time (or maybe only because it's been
so long), because not only are there tons of characters, but the regular
townsfolk clones also live in your castle. It makes your home look so full.
For those of you who aren't as familiar with this as the fans that I'm
addressing, at one point in the game you get your own castle. You can then
travel around the world and collect new characters, each with their own story
line. If you don't get them, that's fine. If you do, that's great! It becomes
a challenge to figure out how to "collect" some of the people though. A certain
bath-maker in Lakewest Town only likes people who enjoy a "nice and toasty"
bath. So you must go out and find a market that sells products that make
you steaming toasty. Only then will he join you. The number of characters
seems virtually endless, because you can collect over 108 this time. And
as any person whose played this game would tell you, you spend hours just
trying to collect them all-and further more, develop their special abilities.
This is what keeps you coming back.
The game in total is at least 40 hours long. If I had one complaint in all
that time of playing, it would be that for the most part-no, I'll just be
candid: the game is bone-dry of humor. Sure it's touching and emulates the
human ethos well, but comic relief is nowhere to be found. It's just plain
death after sad moment, after crying and after tears
But if you've read this far into the review, you undoubtedly understand
my respect for Suikoden II. It's a game with its own essence and spirit that
makes us reminisce of the classic Super Nintendo days, of which it closely
trails. But in terms of fun, in a world where 3D is now the consensus' choice,
Suikoden II is innovative in that it breaks away from that trend.
Not to be forgotten.