It’s a well-known fact that there can never be too much Suikoden. Shortly after the release of ‘Suikoden II’, Konami seemed to realise that consumers felt this way too and promptly released a pair of visual novels that were set around the events of that larger game and built on plot elements that would pay dividends when ‘Suikoden III’ rolled around.
It’s a miracle that we actually managed to review Suikoden IV in time for the ‘Summer of Suikoden’ fan-led event that’s currently pulling together to celebrate the series legacy and to try and convince Konami to release the remaining games onto PlayStation Network (or perhaps reopen the series for new instalments), what with the release of the game on digital services in Europe being plagued with an error that meant that the game wouldn’t load and after being pulled from PSN a complete delete and reload of the reissued game was necessary. Luckily we were able to pull our PlayStation 2 out of retirement and boot up the original disc to get the game going instead.
Many experienced gamers will tell you that the Suikoden series peaked with Suikoden II and not to bother playing past the first two instalments. I feel genuinely sorry for those who did so, because Suikoden III is a hidden gem that the UK has only just managed to get its hands on over a whole console generation later than its original release.
Swords and Poker is something of an odd duck, an excellent little mobile title that fuses RPG mechanics with Poker, but also manages to be a total rip off of another property, in this case indie mobile title Sword and Poker by Gaia Co. There appears to be some question online as to whether Gaia Co are involved in this latest installment of their franchise at all, with Gaia Co going dark, however Cozy Okada (founder of the company) gets no mention on the credits of this latest title.
Where the original Suikoden was a classic marred by a rough transition to the Playstation, its sequel is a masterclass of 2D gaming. Big beautiful sprites couple with outstanding storytelling to produce a game that manages to stand among the Final Fantasies and Dragon Quests of the time with pride.
The transition between the 2D rpgs of the SNES and Megadrive era into the Playstation generation was very much an interesting period for the genre. Some chose to try to bring three dimensions to the platform and flashy FMV sequences (both of which would date horribly) whilst others focused on producing more content on their 2D games that didn’t push the system to its limits. Suikoden firmly fits into the ‘more is better’ category for a number of reasons.