Old Classic Still Has Some Fire Left In It
Suikoden wasn’t the PS1’s first RPG, but for all intent and purposes it should have been. Beyond the Beyond was the title that beat Suikoden out of the gates, and it was a god awful title that did nothing to elevate the genre into the 32 bit era. Suikoden, however, would become the first great RPG title in the system, and it was the title that paved the way for a long running series that spanned more that 5 titles.
Irony would have it that Suikoden would also fail to bring the genre into the 32 bit era, (Something that FFVII would later get credit for) Suikoden was more of an ode to the 16 bit era. A 2-D RPG held back by simplistic conventions of the era, but polished to perfection, in a way that it gives – let’s say – FFVI and the Lunar games a run for their money, but falls short when compared to the behemoths of the 32-Bit era.
Today, in 2007, the game is still worthy of a play if only to appreciate the subtle, but yet beautiful artwork, and the excellently told story, of 108 stars (characters).
Opens the Show for the 32-bit Era RPG’s But Looks 16-Bit All The Way
Suikoden, visually looks 16- bit, so instead of comparing it to games like FFVII and Grandia, it would be fairer for the game to be compared to games like Chrono Trigger and FFVI.
Art Work wise, the game does not match the brilliance of those fine titles, but as far as 2-D graphics go the game is top class in terms of its technical mastery over the art. Large 2-D sprites accompany large colorful words. The design while almost flawless leaves something to be desired in the creative department as the game doesn’t take enough risks to break from the mold. It’s a shame because this is also true for the rest of the games in the series.
While the mishaps of the rest of the series won’t influence the score of Suikoden, Konami has always kept the series from breaking out of its traditional art style. Other series such as Final Fantasy, take bold and unpredictable directions in terms of artistic vision with new each entry.
That the game does not imitate the FF series is perhaps its strength in some ways like storytelling and game play, but artistically the games does not break any new ground. The Sega CD, Genesis, and SNES JRPG elite have the game beat on that department.
Interesting Story, Not Quite An Award Winner but Good Nonetheless
Suikoden won’t win any literary awards, and the Series’ peak in this category came in the 3rd Installment which broke all rules of convention in order to deliver a truly riveting moral plot that taught players a lesson about War and Hate. Suikoden, however, stays in a fairly simple path. A forgivable trait for pre FFVII RPGs, but when you consider that FFVI delivered an epic and dramatic tour de force two years earlier, it makes you question why Konami didn’t go for all of the marbles with its first 32 bit RPG.
The idea of building your own castle with your own Army is compelling, but it wasn’t fleshed out as much as it could have been. Still, the game features pretty compelling tale, provided you haven’t played any other game in the series.
Suikoden, basically provides a straightforward story that deals with war in an epic medieval setting. Nothing much happens here that is out of the ordinary, but it is a well told story.
Plays Old-School With a Twist
It might sound like I am being tough on the game on the other departments and well…I am going to come down pretty hard on the game on this one too, besides the 108 character collect-a-ton, the game did not do much to evolve the genre. In fact, Chrono Trigger and FFVI did more to push the genre forwards than Suikoden did. Battles are sometimes challenging, the big army battles play more or less like a Strategy RPG, as long as you level up you will be fine.
Sounds 16 bit Too
The compositions are actually very good; however, the aural quality is not. If it looks like a 16 bit RPG and plays like one it’s safe to say that it will also sound like one. In fact, the deeper I got into the game, the more that I began to wonder whether this game was originally intended to be a SNES RPG.
Suikoden The Old School Of The 32 Bit Era
If you walk into Suikoden expecting a full blown 32 bit RPG you will be disappointed, Wild Arms the next big RPG at that time actually made bigger strides to that end. However, if you walk into the game looking for a polished 2-D traditional RPG then you will be delighted to find that Suikoden is one of the better 2-D RPGs you can play.
Polished. Battles require a degree of strategy, but the game sticks to the tried and true “level up a ton” in order to succeed in the game, collecting 108 characters was a refreshing diversion at the time of the game’s release.
Great Looking 2-D RPG, however, I still think some SNES and Sega CD RPGs look better. Other 2-D RPGs like Wild Arms in 1997 and Alundra in 1998, looked much better.
Once again the compositions are very good, but the aural quality doesn’t match up, and it’s probably the bottom of the barrel of its era in the category only Shadow Madness probably sounds worst.
It fares better here than in other categories, and in an RPG the story is crucially important. Suikoden provides an engrossing tale from start to finish, even if it isn’t a memorable one.
As with most RPGs of this ilk, this is a once and you are done deal. However, hardcore “completists” will find the quest to find 108 characters compelling.
One of the better 2-D RPGs you can play, and one of the hardest to find these days. In the series, only Suikoden 2 is rarer. Suikoden had the misfortune of coming around in the era of the Grandias, FFVII’s and Panzer Dragoon Saga’s, when it clearly seemed it was stuck in the era of the Chrono Triggers and FFVI’s.
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