Suikoden is a series very close to our heart, and without a digital re-release of ‘Suikoden Tactics’ or ‘Suikoden V’ we’re rapidly running out of titles we can easily access to review in time to take part in this year’s Summer of Suikoden event. Luckily an English Translation exists for the Game Boy Advance exclusive title, Card Stories.
Whilst the original Suikoden side-story ‘Suikogaiden Volume 1’ was very much a sampler of the world, companion piece and introduction to its leading man, Volume 2 is a much more fleshed out visual novel experience that delves deeper into the player character’s personal story and manages to tie in both elements of Suikoden II and III in a manner that bridges both games beautifully.
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.
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.
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.