Suikoden

Overview

The best-selling role-playing title has made the journey from overseas and has docked on a Playstation near you. Suikoden is a wildly popular and addictive game and Konami has privileged the American market by bringing the title to the U.S. All I can think to say is, thank you, Konami, and it is about time we started to get the quality Japanese titles here in the old motherland.

Suikoden is every role player's dream game. There is a ton of action, battles and brainwork all snugly packaged into a nice little CD. The story of Suikoden starts out with the great warrior, Teo McDohl, speaking with his son. Teo wishes for his son to follow in his footsteps as a great warrior fighting for the Empire.

All is well in the Scarlet Moon Empire until one day trouble breaks out to the North and the great Emperor decides to send Teo to resolve the situation. Before leaving on his mission, Teo decides that his son is now man enough to join the forces of the army. Since Teo is going away on a journey, his son is assigned to serve under one of the other Generals in the army.

Your job is to take the role of Teo's son and guide him through the missions he is assigned. After a few short missions, you realize that there is something going on in the ranks of the Empire's army. Are you working for the wrong side? Is the Empire now the real enemy?

Gameplay

Suikoden is the best role-playing game since The Legend Of Zelda on the old NES. If you take all the things that made Zelda such a hit, power it by the 32-bit Playstation, and put it on a CD to make the worlds virtually limitless, out will come Suikoden. This game is so addicting that I keep seeing my watch hit 3 o'clock twice in the same day.

So let's talk about what you actually do in Suikoden. You take on the role of Teo's son. The first thing you will do is enter your name, and that becomes the name of the character throughout the story. Let me just say real quick that I thought it was very cool how the characters actually address you by the name you enter throughout the game. Now, I'm sure it was no huge feat to do this, but it just shows Konami's attention to detail and their commitment to making the game experience as real as possible. Now that you have a name, it is time to start taking on some missions to move your way up in the world.

Before Teo leaves, he assigns a warrior to stay by your side in all the adventures you will encounter. So you and your warrior go to see the General for your first assignment. The General gives you your objective and you are off.

The game is basically controlled from two perspectives. You have a traveling perspective and a battle perspective. As you maneuver through the worlds, you have the typical, top-down view of your character. When you are confronted by an enemy, the view shifts to a close-up of you, the rest of the people in your party and the enemies. During the battle sequences, you have control over every action of every member in your group. For example, if you are traveling with three other members and you are confronted by an enemy, you can choose each person's attack or magic and which enemy it is directed to. I know it sounds a little complicated, but it is very easy to get the hang of this.

As you venture out on your missions, you will encounter many people. Some people are good and some people are bad, but almost everyone knows of your father. This is helpful in some cases and detrimental in others. You will collect items and gain strength, experience and other characteristics from the battles you win. Also, money is plentiful if you look in the right places and defeat enough enemies. In every town you visit, there is some sort of service that you can buy. For example, you can visit the blacksmith and pay to have your weapons sharpened so you will inflict more damage on you enemies during battles.

Another item you will find in your journey is crystal. You can take crystals to a shop and have them attached to your weapons. Once a crystal is attached, your weapon now has special powers that inflict an extensive amount of damage to your opponent. These are very useful and also have cool effects when used.

This only scratches the surface of all the aspects of this game. I don't want to give away too much, because there are some serious plot twists that may surprise you. This game has a bit of everything in it and if you want to know these secrets, you are just going to have to go buy it (which, by the way, I strongly recommend).

Graphics

The graphics in Suikoden are all hand-drawn and have a bit of that overseas look to them. The enemies are very detailed and quite imaginative. You will battle everything from giant snails to killer bunny rabbits. The battle scenes are fairly plain and the deaths were indicated by the character just disappearing, but, other than that, I have no complaints. For this type of game, graphics are important but they don't need to be spectacular. Just create an environment that will draw people in and you will be fine. That is exactly what the graphics in Suikoden do.

Bottom Line

Suikoden is one of the most addictive games that I have ever played. It is a different kind of addiction -- not a competitive addiction, but more of an "I-want-to-see-what-happens-next" addiction. There is so much in this game that I can't even begin to explain everything, but it is very easy to get the hang of it. My only complaint, and it is minor, is that all the conversations are text-based. There are too many comments that don't add anything to the game, so you have to continually cycle through someone's useless, smartass comments. This game is a must-buy for any role-playing fan and a highly recommended title for adventure fans. If you have never played this type of game, Suikoden is a great game that everyone can play.

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