PS1 Flashback: Suikoden

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I first played rpg’s around 1995 in a summer where I mostly would go to class during the day, work at night and come home, sometimes get baked and play SNES games… what a life! During this summer some games like Chrono Trigger were released and some previous titles like FF6 and Secret of Evermore got me more into the RPG genre. As the next generation rolled out and gamers were waiting for FF7 to be released, we were given a couple really good RPG’s to pacify us while we waited… one was Wild Arms and the other was Suikoden, there might have been more but these two I played… quite a bit!

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Suikoden is a RPG for PS1, but the graphics really weren’t groundbreaking for the PS1’s engine and they are more like a 16-bit game on steroids rather than a new 3d type engine. However this was greatly out weighed by a couple of defining characteristics. First the soundtrack is really good, now that we had CD games on the consoles the music really stepped up a notch over the 16-bit era in terms of kinds of sounds, with tracks featuring traditional instruments. The compositions seem to draw from what could be be a sort of Celtic European meets Chinese style… I don’t really know how to classify it because it’s just so original. The next thing is the story feels real and the characters are believable in the fantasy world created for us. I mean the sad note’s the story strikes feel tragic and the funny parts are either just stupid funny in a witty way or laugh out loud funny in a pure comical sense.

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There are some elements that make it feel broken as a game, but they are almost kept in on purpose… like calling menu’s menu0 and menu1 or item0 and item1… it makes no sense! It is funny that it uses index counters instead of normal numbering.

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The game features gathering 108 companions. After playing FF6 and being impressed with that cast, this number blew FF6’s cast count out the water completely. Plus you could lose a character in the war sections of the game, the game has a cool war mode at certain points where you have a mass battle that plays out like a card game with your collected characters as card sets to use. If you didn’t level them up good or you play the cards wrong some characters just seemed to always die, probably not leveled enough but they were actually done, dead, gone from the list of party members you can use in battle for the rest of the game… I thought that was pretty cool too.

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The regular battles are turn based and feature a cool combo system with party members and finding who combos well with others is a lot of fun. the game moves at a good pace and there is a lot of story to tell, as each character usually has something of real value to add, though there are some characters I just never leveled up for one reason or another.

You should watch a play through to see the game in action to see if you might like it… I found one here that is awesome, it features voice acting for all the characters and some commentary on the game and background of things without spoilers…

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