_Recently, I’ve started replaying Suikoden 5. My streams of Suikoden 5 have led to an epidemic of interest [in, like, two people] in playing or replaying games in the series themselves. The high exposure to the series as a whole as of late has got me to thinking about how much I love the world of Suikoden. Further thinking made me realize how much I love vast, intricate, detailed worlds, and that Suikoden was just one of many series with those that I loved.
_The history of Suikoden is wrought with strife and conflict, like most RPG’s are…actually, like most any story is. Protagonists and antagonists usually quarrel with one another, or at least have dissimilar goals and/or methods. Like many RPG’s developed by the Japanese, it has a fantasy-like setting, with mystical runes being the magical force of the world. All of the games share a similar theme of a small force rising up against an evil regime. As a standalone game, it all seems like standard fare, true [Although even as standalone games, many of the Suikoden games still stand out as very solid RPG’s experiences]. It’s once you start to delve into the series as a whole that Suikoden starts to really stand out amongst the pack.
_Many video game series, not just RPG’s, are sequels in title only. Seeing a game with a number on the end is less about continuing an ongoing story as much as it is stating that this game will be thematically similar in style and gameplay to other games in the series [This is the main reason why many gamers are irritated when a sequel in a series is radically different from its predecessors. If people buy a new entry in a series that was normally a 3rd person shooter, but find that it’s suddenly first person, they’ll often be annoyed even if it’s good. If people wanted a FPS, they’d have bought something they knew was an FPS. Not meeting peoples simplest of expectations sometimes can be very damaging]. Examples of series like this include, but are not limited to, Dragon Quest, Zelda, the Tales Of games, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto…there are a lot of ’em. As long as people can buy a Zelda game with the knowledge that they’ll be getting a hookshot of some kind and will be exploring around 7-10 dungeons, they’ll pretty ok with the plot being the same story of the conflict of Tri-Force pieces and shit. The Suikoden games are not like these series.
_So…the Suikoden games are connected. Big fucking deal, lots of series are connected. It’s hardly some rare occurrence or anything. The Halo games all form one large story. Mass Effect too. Xenosaga. Kingdom Hearts [lol]. The place where Suikoden differs from these series is that it’s not based around one grand narrative, but is closer to a history of the world. You’re never fighting to save the world, but rather just to save a kingdom, or free a peoples. The events that take place in each game is more of a story on how a royal family fell out of power, or how territories came together to form a new kingdom. The world map isn’t a map of the entire world, but just a map of the kingdom. The games all have a very contained feel to them. Events that take place in one city are known in other cities, because they’re not continents and oceans apart. And the more games in the series you play, the clearer of an image of the world of Suikoden begins to form. Countries and kingdoms mentioned in previous games become the focus of later games. Some character development takes place gradually over the course of the series as they appear in more entries. The most unique thing about the series is that the actual order you play the games in actually matters very little, but playing more of the games opens your eyes to more of the world contained within.
_If you’ve ever played a Suikoden game, you’ll know that there are many aspects of the games that I didn’t touch upon here. That’s because I wanted to make this post short and sweet. I don’t want it to seem like I’m beating people over the head about this stuff. This is more of…a kind of suggestion or a push. These are the elements of the series that appeal to me. If this sounds like something you might like…maybe download Suikoden 1 on PSN for the low price of…I forget how much. It’s pretty cheap though! And if you’ve played the games before, maybe this can serve as a gentle nudge towards delving back into the series…except 4. It’s a bit too bland to justify replaying over any of the other games =P