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Review By: Joel Fajardo
Developer:   Konami
Publisher:   Konami
# of Players:   1
Genre:   RPG
ESRB:   Everyone

Upon playing Suikoden, I have finally realized that it is not just wrong to believe that a book can be judged by its cover, a person to be judged by their looks, but a game to be judged by its developers, because what Konami has done is brilliantly pulled off making an irresistibly grand RPG to bring them to their finest hour. Suikoden is not just your typical rent-it-a-day-beat-it RPG, but is a magical experience that not only leads to burning love, but also family death, hateful betrayal, resurrections of forgotten pasts, and emotional crisis. Easily noted, Suikoden I must say is the closest video game to bring me to tears.  Though I did not weep, I found myself close to at times. You take the role of the son of the emperor’s most trusted general, General Teo. Naming your character, as mine was named Jeril, you are to become part of the kingdom and service to the emperor by starting off completing simple tasks such as going to an isolated island and also to the nearby mountain where you are told to capture thieves. Suddenly, one of your closest friends saves you as you are about to be killed by a giant ant woman. Using one of the 27 True Runes you are saved, but to the cost of losing the confidentiality that he once desired. So as you can imagine, a party member turns you traitor and he is killed. You get the rune and go off to where Wendy can’t get it. There are many gaps that I left and many details that have yet to be filled, but that is rather your job to discover after you buy this great game.

Graphically, Suikoden isn’t one of the most impressive games seen to date.  2D characters are flat and have absolutely no movement when walking. They look rather frozen with their shoulders stuck to their side as they jiggle back and forth to travel. The towns, another disappointing aspect can all be summed up by three words- imaginative yet boring. Sure they may be creative; they may be interesting to see all the different living styles of dwarves and elves but theses little villages look dull and plain. Dwellings consist of bland, primary colors, and flat unrich backgrounds. The sceneries are plain, but show imagination, leaving me in belief that it was just due to a slight problem, that Konami was not able to fully express their ideal image of what Suikoden should look like. Definitely the most grotesque aspect in the graphics category must be awarded to the overhead map. I can honestly say that those developers must have been getting “high on life” when they decided upon the main map because this map deals with flatter that flat, cardboard cutout, paste and slappin’ images. There are virtually about 6 colors on the screen at once- green, light green, brown, light brown, red and blue. The trees look like little lakes of sewer green pond scum that just happened to be floating by. Now if you want to talk about disappointing intros, then this game is the one to quench your gossip. Long gone are the expected and demanded intros of Wild Arms or the ultimate 2D intro of Saturn’s Guardian Heroes. You are left with little scenes showing different kinds of battles and a black screen with riddling unsolved mysteries of life. Oh well.

One enjoyable aspect in the graphic category is the magic spells. Cool animated effects are seeing from the splashing of water, to the burning of fire, down to the zapping of electrical shocks. Remarkably, a seldom used system is brought upon the game. When certain magic spells are executed in a certain consecutive order, dazzling spells take place where there is a combination of two spells in one, merging them. A quite enjoyable addition to a great game.

Onomatopoeia. Buzz, splash, crash, grrr, roar. The sound on Suikoden is so unbelievable that only hearing is believing. Take for instance that you approach a waterfall. Nice, correct? Now pretend that you hear it from a distance. Cute, right? Now take for instance that as you get closer the sound gets louder and louder, and as you get farther, the sound gets lower and lower. Simply put the effects are the most detailed heard, though a great many people might argue that. The fluttering of the birds wing, the meowing of the cats, just goes to show that down to the tiniest of acute details, one thing that Konami put much time into was making sure that you were in a lifelike place at all time while playing Suikoden. Henceforth, the music is equally as spectacular. Every town, every dungeon has its own tune, mostly related with classical and opera. Beautiful orchestras play and riveting music dazzles you as you walk through the towns. Sad music motions as party members die, tuning to the violin softly to comfort you at a time of loss. With nothing less than near perfect sound, Suikoden succeeds in bringing you to imitative new world.

Gameplay is a two way street in your opinion, actually. How do you decide how the control is? Is it by the inadequate movement or is it by the striking battles when controlling your character? Well I’d like to discuss both. Walking around, whereever it may be, is not a simple task. You take your character, Jeril, and move along flat, spiritless world. It’s quite hard to explain, but you can’t get to some parts of the screen because almost like an invisible barrier keeps you from moving to certain places. For example, you are in a town with a cemetery on a mountain. It’s understandable that you can’t get to the cemetery, but when you can’t even get within the full distance of the mountain, that’s just sad. Not just that, but the characters move sluggishly, and slow when traveling. Even when flying, you are tortured and subjected to cruel punishment by having, let’s say, a small little dragon take forever just to travel three inches across the screen. On the positive side, the battles are dignifying. Control is smooth and crisp, clean and clear, just plain suave. You command all your attacks first. Then they are executed in order of who has the greater speed. It’s simply divine to see two people attack nearly at once, making the battles quick and engulfing.

Who would have ever thought of having a story where a young boy is against the empire? Well actually a lot of people, but that is beside the point. Suikoden succeeds in bringing to mind what I have never seen before, and done in fashionable and majestic way. Actually having a part in history, Suikoden’s story in fact partly comes from a piece of literature in China, known as The Water Margin. This story tells of Chinese citizens of all classes being oppressed by the government in different ways. What ends up happening is about 102 people move to an isolated mountain and fight the system. So for those of you who have played Suikoden, you can see where the main idea of the game came from. Genso, in translation, mean fantasy, while suiko means water margin and den means story. Roughly put together it means fantasy of the Water Margin story. Now tell me… what game has that kind of roots behind it? There are so many interesting aspects to tell about. Basically, after you get your castle on an isolated island, you can recruit people. There are up to 108 people that you can recruit each having their own personality/story, from maids to blacksmith to exotic dancers. You name it. They got it. By getting new people, what you are doing is enlarging your army. You can hire people; you can ask people to help out. It’s all-amazing. Recruit several different kind of engineers and you get elevators, bathtubs that you can bathe in (!), or get artists to paint for you, or musicians to play. It’s simply inspiring. In addition to that, everyone contains a small part in the story, thus everyone having a small ending where you are told only in words what becomes of them. Another interesting aspect is the battles. There are THREE different kind of battles: turn based, strategic, and one-on-one. During different intervals in the game, you will be required to fight different ways. Usually fighting turn-based, you are forced, during a war, to fight in almost a Dragon Force kinda’ style. This is where it comes in handy to have all those recruits. Different people help you in different ways, like magician for instance use…uhh magic! Also, when there’s a heated conflict, it’s down to person against person where you fight in a Dark Savior fashion. Truly magnificent.

Now how fun and involving can a game really get? Well that you wouldn’t know until Suikoden is on your PSX. Sadly, the game lasts about twenty hours. Short, yet sweet, I say. There’s so much to do and so much to see that you will never put down your PSX controller until the games ends. There is so much tragedy through life and death, that every quest ahead pains you as you proceed. This is one game that PSX owners can’t miss.

Replay Value you ask?!?! How dare you ask such a question!?!? You should be ashamed of yourself. It is not even questionable if you are going to play this game again because you will. There are 108 characters for crying out loud, and the first time around it’s impossible to get them all and seeing their ending, resulting in a major mental conflict in your head, if you should go do homework or play it again… Play it again!

To rap it all up, Suikoden is not just a game but rather and experience. A game that has such originality and could possibly be the best RPG if it had outrageously good graphics and great length. Though it doesn’t, this is a game so unimaginable, a game so involving, that upon its completion your heart is left aching…

Overall: 8.7
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