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Review - Suikoden I+II (PSX) (Read 1783 times)
Nightcrawler
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Review - Suikoden I+II (PSX)
Oct 7th, 2015 at 7:14pm
 
Suikoden I+II:

For many years I've heard all about the Suikoden series. I played a bit of the first two a long time ago, appreciated the 2D RPG gaming style, and had it on a rainy day list. I finally started the series. However, I ended up disappointed with the first game. I only finished it because the core battle engine was pretty decent, and it was short.

After seeing that the second game addressed much of what I didn't like about the first, I decided to play that one as well. Suikoden 2 was much better all-around. I generally enjoyed it, and it did play well. However, it started to became clear by the end that ultimately the Suikoden recruit 108 formula doesn't agree with me. I do not think I will be playing any others in the series. Having so many characters leads to poor development, useless characters, tedious recruitment and leveling time, and being a bit ridiculous in determining which characters a party should be made up of. Both games were the same in this respect. I understand that is the staple of the series and all others would be more of the same.

Story:

In Suikoden, there wasn't much at all. I thought there was going to be more after sampling the first hour or two years ago, but there really wasn't. As soon as you become leader, it's nothing more than recruiting and attacking the 5 generals. Even with the story moments that were there, it was anti-climactic and there was no payoff. The big confrontation with your father, for example, was short, not very emotional, and thrown under the rug in a heartbeat. That's the way most of the game played. It also suffered terribly from too many character syndrome. There was 108 characters, and probably 100 of them were throwaway, 5 more were cardboard, and maybe 3 had any character at all. I knew there were many characters, but I thought the core was going to get developed. Total let down.

Suikoden 2 improved greatly in the story department. There was a story this time, and plenty of it. It was well sprinkled throughout the game. The story and relationship between the three main characters was the core of the game. It developed nicely. Although, a few things didn't sit well with me. I could never shake the fact that Jowey blatantly murdered someone in cold blood and his friends just seemed to overlook that. He also seemed to flip-flop a little too much on what he was trying to accomplish, and how moral he was going to be about it. Probably another script edit would have take care of much of that. The script could have used touch up in several areas. They gave it a good try this time around to provide character development for more characters. Ultimately though, it was an impossible task to have 108 meaningful characters. I found myself wishing there were only 20 or 30 and couldn't care less about the rest.

Graphics:

Normally, I love to see 2D on the Playstation, however Suikoden stunk of low budget. The graphics didn't even seem finished. I've seen more animation and detail in most 16-bit SNES games. The sprites were larger here, but everything was so drab, dry, and lifeless. There just wasn't much to see. Very disappointing.

Suikoden 2 once again improved things immensely. The budget must have been much higher. The animations and details were dramatically improved. Everything was polished and lively. Battle was also hugely expanded with the amount of effects and what not. These were some really nice 32-bit era 2D graphics that I think can pass the test of time. Great job graphics team! You redeemed yourselves!

Sound/Music:

Great soundtrack here in Suikoden. Many unique, varying, and catchy tunes. There could have been a larger selection, but what was there was good so I didn't mind. This was easily the best part of the game. If only the rest of the team put in as much effort as the composer! Sound effects unfortunately, were nearly non-existent. Only the bare basics were present and nothing more.

I think I prefer the soundtrack of the first game more, but Suikoden 2 was strong competition. If I recall it may be because Suikoden 2 used the MIDI type synth on Playstation rather than the recorded audio of the first game. Nonetheless, there were a number of good tracks. The music matches the emotional tone of the scenes too, which doesn't always happen in games. I think there was more variety in the second game as well. Sound effects were much improved too. No complaints.

Gameplay:

Inventory management in the first game was terrible. It reminded me of the first Shining Force. I was constantly out of space, and constantly shuffling items back and forth between characters. You couldn't even buy a new piece of armor without inventory management because a specific character had a free slot. It was extremely tedious and clunky. It made the game annoying the whole way through.

The battle engine was the saving grace of the game. It was fast and easy to pick up. It reminded me of Grandia, which is one of my favorite games. Unfortunately, the fact that there were 108 characters and so many possible combinations of runes, and unit attacks, dragged it down quite a bit. You never knew who you should be using, or what skills to use, without wasted time and trial and error. With a cast so large, it was down right tedious. So, much of my game was spent with a few people I picked early on and I never really got to explore the full potential of the engine.

Suikoden 2 once again was an overall improvement. They kept the battle engine basically kept the same, which was the best part of the first game. Thank heavens they also fixed the inventory management troubles as well. It was a much more playable game that way. Really, the core gameplay mechanics are pretty good. I really like fast battles in RPGs. It keeps them from becoming tedious.


Summary:

Overall, I think the first one could be skipped, except for it's use in fleshing out Suikoden II. Otherwise, it's forgettable and not worth the time. Making Suikoden II your entry in to the serious might be a better idea. It's a pretty solid game and you will either enjoy it or dislike the recruitment formula. You'll know from this game if it's worth trying any others in the series.

Suikoden I - Nay!
Suikoden II- Yay!
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