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Suikoden (幻想水滸伝 Gensō Suikoden )
The game centers around the political struggles of the Scarlet Moon Empire. The player controls the son of a Scarlet Moon Empire general who is destined to seek out 108 warriors (referred to as the 108 Stars of Destiny) in order to revolt against the corrupt sovereign state and bring peace to a war-torn land. The game is loosely based on the Chinese novel Shui Hu Zhuan.
The game features a vast array of characters both controllable and not, with over ninety characters usable in combat and many more able to help or hinder the hero in a variety of ways.
Suikoden plays like a traditional console role-playing game, with the player moving characters across a landscape, advancing the plot by completing tasks and talking with other characters and has been compared to Beyond the Beyond and Final Fantasy VII.
The Hero may recruit up to a grand total of 108 new characters to his cause, although the battle system in Suikoden features six person parties in combat, with each character being individually controllable.
Combat triggers through random encounters and is largely turn-based in that both the player-controlled party members and the computer-controlled enemy combatants select their actions before the turn commences and, once the turn begins, carry out their actions in the order of their speed.
A variety of statistics determine in-game combat ability, including optimum weapon range. Weapon range requires the player to think about character placement in the standard battle formation. There are three ranges from which a character can have the ability to attack: Short, Medium and Long. Short range characters are typically swordsmen who have to be placed at the front row of the six party formation, while Medium range attacks can fight from either the front or the back row, meanwhile Long range attackers can attack from both ranges but benefit more so from fighting in the back row, usually due to either their low hit point total, their low physical defence, or both. They also benefit from being able to attack either the enemy's front row or back row in combat.
If all 6 characters lose all their hit points and are thus incapacitated, it is game over and the player must restart from a save point. Exceptions exist for certain plot battles in which winning is optional; the player can lose and the plot continues on, albeit in a slightly different fashion.
Weapons are unique to each character and require sharpening in towns that have blacksmiths. There are no weapon shops in Suikoden and equipment shopping is limited to armour and items. However, because of the need to sharpen a minimum of 6 characters' weapons at any one time, this can be a more expensive process than in a typical RPG. Information gathering and character recruiting is also a common place occurrence within towns. Wilderness areas such as the world map or dungeons generally feature random encounters with monsters that do not increase in difficulty as the player's party advances in level.
Runes are the source of all magic in the world of Suikoden. Characters have a certain number of spell usages per "spell level;" governed generally by their magic statistic. For instance, a character with 4 level 1 spell slots and a Water Rune could cast "Kindness Drops" (the level 1 Water Rune spell) 4 times. Other runes offer different benefits such as allowing a character to deal double damage at the cost of a 50% reduction in defence. Most runes can only be used in a limited capacity.
Two other type of battle system exist: duel battles and war battles. Both duel battles and strategic war battles are analogous to Rock, Paper, Scissors. In one-on-one duels, there are three commands: attack, defend and special. Attack beats defend, defend beats special and special beats attack. In strategic war battles, the four major groups are charge attacks, bow attacks, magic attacks and others. Charge attacks beat bow attacks, bow attacks beat magic attacks and magic attacks beat charge attacks. The 'other' command acts as a free special command enabling you to for example, learn what the enemy's next attack will be.
The Hero (named by the player) is the son of a Great General of the Scarlet Moon Empire, Teo McDohl. Teo is called away to fight a battle in the northlands, leaving his son alone under the guardianship of several family friends to begin his career in the Imperial Army. The Hero soon comes to realise through his missions and association with his leaders that the corruption within the Empire's top tier has led to a country where its populace is enslaved and unhappy.
Through his friend Ted, he comes into possession of the Rune of Life and Death (also known as the Soul Eater), one of 27 True Runes that govern various aspects of the world. The Rune, ruthlessly hunted for by corrupt officials within the Empire and their manipulators, force the Hero and his companions to flee the capital city of Gregminster.
This early chain of events forces the Hero to cross paths with a rebel organisation where he is sheltered, although he is only convinced of the need to struggle against the Empire when the hideout is attacked and sacked by Imperial forces. Recruiting the help of Mathiu Silverberg, a former Imperial strategist, the Hero's Liberation Army starts off as a small force working to unite rebel factions throughout Scarlet Moon, and eventually becomes a force large enough and powerful enough to bring down the Empire itself.
Suikoden boasts an extremely large number of characters with over 108 allied characters and numerous enemies and neutral characters. Many of the characters in this game would later go on to appear in other games in the Suikoden franchise. See List of recurring characters in Suikoden for a comprehensive list.
The soundtrack was published by King Records and released in Japan on April 5, 1996. It was composed and arranged by Miki Higashino, Tappi Iwase (Tappy), Taniguchi Hirofumi, Mayuko Kageshita and Hiroshi Tamawari. The soundtrack contained 2 discs and a total of 48 tracks.
At the time of its release Suikoden was considered to be one of the best RPGs on the Sony PlayStation, averaging a score of 81.73% on GameRankings culled from 13 reviews. IGN claimed the game was easily the RPG of the Year, stating that although its story was simple, the background visuals and music were beautiful and fantastic. It went on to say that it was easily one of the best RPGs ever made and one that never became boring. Rottentomatoes gave it a "fresh" rating of 60%, while Game Revolution gave the game an A- quoting in particular its astonishing musical scores.
Furthermore, RPGamer stated that the game was original, breaking out from the typical "Mysterious stranger saves the world" story-line, and also pointed out that it was a relatively simple game suited generally for "novices" and for "die-hard fans" of the series who hadn't played it yet and rated it a 7.
Gamespot gave it a 6.5 rating stating that although not ground-breaking it was certainly a good game, if short and easy. Gamespot considered the game as a "warm-up" before moving on to other RPGs such as Wild Arms or Final Fantasy VII.
The game's success led to the creation of the Suikoden franchise of games, novels, and anime.
Deus Ex creator Warren Spector has credited Suikoden as a big influence on his work, even as early as the first Deus Ex. He stated that the limited moral choices in the game, some of which turn out to be false choices, are what inspired him to explore the concept much further and attempt to offer meaningful choices that actually matter.
The game has also been compared to the later, popular Mass Effect series. Game Design Scrapbook stated: "I always found myself thinking about how close this game feels to something like Mass Effect. And yet it’s light-years ahead of Bioware in some regard."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 IGN: Suikoden Review (1997-01-22)..
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Gerstmann, Jeff (1997-02-25). GameSpot editors' review..
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Enright, James. Suikoden - Retroview..
- ↑ RPGFan Soundtracks - Genso Suikoden OGS (February 2000)..
- ↑ Suikoden..
- ↑ Suikoden: A long time coming (March 1997)..
- ↑  
- ↑ http://gamedesignreviews.com/scrapbook/suikoden-effect/
- Konami's Official Genso Suikoden Site
- Suikox: A Suikoden Fansite
- Suikosource: Your Source for Suikoden
- 'Suikoden' at MobyGames
- The Spriters Resource; Suikoden, A large collection of sprites from Suikoden
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