I knew that Greg Noe—the virtuoso behind The First Hour—and I would get along just fine when one of the first comments he left on my gaming blog was this: “Suikoden II... best JRPG ever made.” Yes, I totally agree. Suikoden and Suikoden II make up a pivotal part of my gaming history, and without them, I have to believe I would not be who I am today. They taught me the importance of character and characters, showed me at a young age that politics were always at war, and highlighted the importance of the invention of the elevator. Plus, they were really fun. Collecting 108 Stars of Destiny and watching a castle expand to house all of them is something I wish was in every RPG about building a rebel army these days.
Something happened though. Let's call it college. Four years went by, and I missed out on Suikoden III and Suikoden IV, as well as many other videogames during my time of study and refining and dropping of majors. I didn't come back to the world of videogames until after graduating and getting my first post-college job, picking up Suikoden V at first chance. Alas, by that time, it was hard to find copies of the previous two games, and only got harder with each year that passed.
Flash-forward to 2011, and I was able to find a used copy of Suikoden III recently at my local GameStop. Honestly, I've been a little scared to play it, worried that I've built up too much internal hype over the years, but destiny's calling. It's now or never.
I tend to be conscious of the games I buy. When I plunk the cash onto the counter, I've usually made the decision to do so months in advance. I've read some previews, watched plenty of gameplay clips, and probably played a demo (if available). This is normal for people to do when they're about to shell out $60 and tax, but I tend to do my research even when the game can be bought for a Hamilton. What can I say? I'm kind of stingy. Chicks love a pennypincher.
I indulged in a blind-buy some time ago, when a game called Suikoden went on sale from the infallible PlayStation Network for a scant three dollars. I guess I can't really call it a "blind" purchase, considering I'd heard of the series, knew it was some sort of JRPG, and recalled some praise for it throughout the years. Still, this was a small triumph for my freewheeling, devil-may-care side. The side that grins mischievously as a tossed beer can ends up in the trash rather than the recycling bin. The side that saunters across the street with reckless abandon when the orange hand in the crosswalk orders me to halt.
I've finally worked up the courage to start playing this recklessly-bought game. Will it turn out to be as thrilling as the initial purchase, or will I pledge to never blind-buy again?
In April, Capcom shocked the world by announcing the sequel we all wanted but never thought we’d see: Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The Vs. Capcom series is always filled with surprises: another recent one is releasing Tatsunoko vs. Capcom in the America, which many thought would be a licensing nightmare. Capcom has crossed paths and punches with four companies: comic book titan Marvel, legendary Japanese animation studio Tatsunoko, fighting game rival SNK, and even Namco in a Japanese-only RPG. But what other companies should Capcom square off against? Here are five that I’d like to see. Keep in mind, I hope for all of these to be fighting games (sorry Namco x Capcom).
New Game Plus is probably one of the coolest, most obvious, and underused features in video games today. There is no better way to get me to immediately replay your game than to give me every single item, weapon, magic, and point of experience that I finished the game with at the start of the my next playthrough. Yes, it makes everything Win Button easy, but it is so very satisfying returning to the boss the gave you so much trouble the first time and one-shotting him into oblivion. New Game Plus should be a required feature of every RPG and adventure game.
For the unaware, New Game Plus means starting the game over but loading your characters from when you last beat it. You generally retain most non-story items and weapons, and keep your existing level and stats. It's generally a nice reward for conquering a game, but as we'll see, can also be used for a variety of reasons.
I've been going through my large collections of games lately, which numbers in the hundreds, deciding if I can pass any of them off to gamers who can actually appreciate them for what they are. Not only do I have tons of games, but for 95% of them, I also still have their original box and manual. This makes some of them rather valuable for the collector, and hopefully I can provide.
However, there are a few games which I simply can not give up, some are worth quite a bit, others... well, they're mostly just meaningful to me. Let's take a nostalgic walk through some of the rare, obscure, and classic games I own that I could never give up.
Suikoden Tierkreis for the Nintendo DS is the newest edition to the classic RPG series released last month. It's the first portable original RPG in the series and features all the mainstays, including 108 Stars of Destiny (heroes), turn-based combat, an epic story, and random battles. Tierkreis is German for "zodiac." What that has to do with the game, I do not know, something to do with the Stars of Destiny maybe?
This is of course a guest review by my friend Grant. He recently reviewed the first hour of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and offered to review his newest purchase. We're both big fans of the Suikoden series, though we've played completely different games. I've played 1, 2, and 4, while Grant has played 3, 5, and now Tierkreis. I keep trying to get him to play Suikoden 2 as it's one of the best games ever... but as long as he writes for the site, I don't care. Enjoy Grant's review of Suikoden Tierkreis.
Suikoden II is a rare PlayStation RPG that can fetch some pretty ridiculous prices on eBay, with sealed copies climbing over $200. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean the game is any good though, as I've seen friends pay many bills for mediocre games that triggered the nostalgia portion of their brain. Either way, Suikoden II is a Konami developed role-playing game on a Squaresoft dominated system and thus never saw sales for this odd sounding game that came close to most other games. The Suikoden series is still being developed by Konami but many fans consider this as the best in the series.
The game itself features an interesting political storyline with highly memorable characters. This description reminds me of Final Fantasy XII, but the difference between the two games is that in Final Fantasy XII the characters seemed far removed from the political scheming where in Suikoden II our heroes are right in the mix of things. The battle system is unique in that your team of fighters consists of six characters in turn-based combat. There are also 108 total characters you can recruit to your cause, a number that seems way too high but is actually manageable and keeps the game entertaining. When not in use, all your recruits hang out in an ever-expanding castle that also serves as your home base.
This is all extra information mostly non-applicable to just the first hour of gameplay, but I consider myself a Suikoden II evangelist and will take any opportunity to push it to the masses. Now let's get started with the first hour of Suikoden II.