Suikoden II – A Classic That Will Never Get Old

This one’s about Suikoden II. If you’re expecting a full on rant though, you’re out of luck. Because this game is amazing. There will be 2 parts of this review, a spoiler-free part and a full-of-spoiler part. I chose to do it this way because it’s actually impressive this game hasn’t been spoiled over the internet like Aerith’s death in FFVII, and I really, REALLY would like everyone to play this gem without getting spoiled.

The Visual aged very well. For a game released in 1998, the sprite and the colorization looks very pleasing to the eyes. Each characters also has their own battle animation and battle stances that looks very cool or simply adorable. Hell, this game looks even cooler than some recent 3d games.

While I think the music isn’t anything special and not something I’d play on youtube on repeat, it fits the game and the atmosphere very well that it makes the traveling around the world or backtracking ( and there were a lot! ) a very pleasant experience.

There are 3 kinds of gameplay in this game, Normal combat, Duel, and Major Battle. Let’s look at each one of them.

Normal combat is your classic turn-based, with 6 people in a party, and you choosing each of their action on their turn. You can use normal attack, rune/magic attack, or Unite attack, which is a combination attack between 2 or more people that have a special relationship in the game ( for example, Riou, the main protagonist with Nanami, his older sister ). This encourages you to try out different party composition as you have 108 people you can recruit. The combat also flows really fast for a turn based game, as usually 2-3 times people attacks at once. The one thing I love most about the combat is that you can use the “Auto” option, which makes all character attack randomly with a single press. This really makes grinding for exp and money a breeze.

Duel is a battle between 2 individuals. The system is really simple, you can either Attack, Defend, or Wild Attack. It works like rock paper scissor, Defend > Wild Attack > Attack > Defend. What makes this fun though, after each turn the opponent will say something like “Taste the sharpness of my blade!” and you can guess what the opponent will do. I seriously enjoyed this part and I wish there are more of it.

Now, tha Major Battle. The weakest part of an otherwise amazing game. Major Battle is a mock RTS battle between 2 armies. Each unit have a commander, and 2 other people to strengthen their Attack value and Defense Value, or even give them special skill like healing. Like Ni No Kuni 2, you can have more commanders or strengthen your current unit by recruiting people.

What I don’t like about this is it’s way too random. Each unit had their own value of Attack and Defense, the higher your attack against the enemy’s defense, the more likely your attack hits. But it’s actually so frustrating when you have all of your units attack in a turn and none of them hits an enemy ( This actually happened to me once ).

The pacing is also really slow as most of your unit can only be able to move 1 tile each turn and were often clumped together, so it’s unlikely that you can do actual “strategic” move by using formations and stuff. Attack animations that takes a long time also doesn’t help the the case..

Honestly I wouldn’t even call it a large-scale army battle, it’s just a gimmick or another mechanic of story-telling, as most of the time you only attack or move your units around until story sequence triggers where either one of the armies retreats or something else happens. I think only in the last battle you have full control of your unit and the battle, and even then all you need to do is move one of your unit into an enemy base, which isn’t that hard to do.

Next let’s talk about recruiting people, my favorite part of the game! Game dev seriously needs to learn on how to make side contents from this game, because it’s seriously great and much, MUCH better than 90% of recent games, my only complain is that I wish there are more of them. You can recruit up to 108 people to join you in this game, a lot of them joins automatically, others you have to go out of your way to recruit them. Some of them also requires you to do a side quest before they want to join you. The side quests are seriously great and fun to do, it ties directly into the people asking for them and develops the character for you to know them before they even join you.

Each, and I mean each and every single one of them have their own personality, quirks, backstory, and motivations no matter how small it is, expressed through their dialogue, portraits, or even battle stances. One of them wants to be a dragon knight, one of them wants to pursue their love in first sight,one of them is looking for a place to sing, one of them wants to open a restaurant, one of them is a pervert unicorn that’s obsessed on virgins, and this all goes on for all 108 of them. This is what makes the game such a unique and profound experience, the large cast of very likeable characters that you can recruit to join your cause. You can found out more about them by paying a private investigator to investigate them, but honestly I’d wish it was made into side quests. I wouldn’t mind spending 200 hours+ just to get to know more of these 108 people.

“Wait, isn’t it a pain in the ass to level those 108 people?” Absolutely no! Because the way exp works in this game, there is very little need to grind. Lower level party members would receive massive exp after battle so they catch up very quickly. The game is also easy enough as long as you keep upgrading your gears.

Another cool thing you can see is if you walk around the castle during downtime, you can see your people live their own lives. Maybe it’s about a teenage girl having a crush on one of your general, maybe you’ll see a dog being hanged upside down like laundry.

I do have some other complains about, such as too too many backtracking between towns but there aren’t any ways to fast travel until halfway through the game, or the very limited backpack, or random boss fight like giant pest rats or skull dragon, and some others but I’m willing to give them a pass because it’s a really old game.

Luca Blight on his tuesday walk

The story is about war, political, friendship, and betrayal. And they executed it very well. Riou and his friend Jowy were originally just a soldier, but were quickly accused of being traitor by the country he served on. With the help of a group of mercenary he managed to build an army of his own to fight against the Highland army, the opposing parties in Suikoden 2. Sounds familiar? Yes it’s kinda similar to Ni No Kuni 2. But it’s much better executed. People actually died, villages were burned to ground, you can feel the tension of the war and you have the perfect villain for it. Luca Blight. This guy is the baddest of the bad guy, the Sephiroth of this game. They really didn’t hold back with this guy, this guy would kill children without batting an eye. And it would take you a traitor from his side, a well executed ambush and 18 people of your party to take him down.

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SPOILER ALERT – SECTION BELOW WILL CONTAIN STORY SPOILER – PLEASE DO NOT READ BELOW SECTION IF THERE IS ANY CHANCE AT ALL THAT YOU MIGHT WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME ANYTIME IN THE FUTURE.

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I would really like to talk about some moments in the game that really makes me love the game so much.

Jowy’s Betrayals

Jowy was my favorite party member because of his unite attack with Riou, so losing him the way we did really stings. I also really like his character. The way he kept coming to Riou’s rescue, how he cared for Pilika, or how Nanami and Riou waited for him outside of Muse really showed how deep their relationships were. It all happened so suddenly that you’re left wondering what his motivations were.

Nanami’s Death

Man it hurts. She was such a sweet and lovable character, her unite attack with Riou was also one my favorite. The saddest part of it was she never really wanted to be a part of this war, she just wants to live quietly in peace with Riou and Jowy. Her death was legitimately my favorite part of the game as I think it’s really well executed. Riou met with Jowy at the top of the Matilda. You’ve passed through multiple obstacles to get here, the moment that’s been built up. Riou vs Jowy, nothing can stop it. Then Gorudo The Dick and his soldier appears to steal the spotlight, they shoot the arrow, Nanami drew her weapon and tried to stop it. She managed to repel some of it but one hit her and she fell to the ground.

Instead of fighting Jowy, you find yourself fighting alongside Jowy. After such long time, after a long war, all of it doesn’t matter, politics are set aside and they fight together one last time to kill Gorudo.

Nanami wished for Riou and Jowy to not fight as her last wish, to end this pointless war. Jowy got overwhelmed by emotions, and he retreats, securing Riou’s army’s victory. But Riou’s most important person in his life died, and his best friend disappeared. Riou got to rule a country but he’s all alone.

Running away with Nanami

People call this the bad ending, and it may be is, but this has all the feels. Nanami couldn’t handle the war anymore, all the pressure and all the fighting, she asks Riou to run away with her, one last time. Who would blame them? They’re only 16 years old! Wars should be left to the adults, right? Riou ran away, abandoning all the hope people has put on him, he ran away from Neclord’s zombie army attacking innocent villages along the way. One his general, Ridley, died when he was searching for him. Shu, his strategist, one of the people the trusted Riou, slapped him in the face when he found Riou. And the end screen showed Riou and Nanami living in a small house away from the war.

The fight against Luca Blight

This guy is NOT a joke. This guy, is a BOSS. The first time I fought him I got massacred. The 2nd time I came back after grinding levels, and he still kicked my ass. It took me cheesing him with all of my parties equipped with Water and Lightning rune to finally took him down. And when we finally beat him down, the game is not over. The story still goes on, and our next opponent is Jowy, as we thought Jowy would finally came back to our side, he asked us to surrender. And the war continues.

The True Ending

Honestly if you tell me you got this ending without a walkthrough, I’m gonna say you’re lying. There are so many things you need to do to get this ending, from getting 108 stars, to making sure Nanami is alive ( Levelled up and well equipped ), to not attacking Jowy at all at the final duel. I must say though, I’m not very fond of this ending, Nanami is alive, Jowy gets away from all his crimes. But really, I love all of them so much that I’m So. Happy that they all got a happy ending.

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Huft that ended up to be longer than I thought. I swear I thought this was going to be a short review.

Anyway though, while the story has some weak parts and I do think it’s kinda overrated the same way FF7 is overrated, I can see why the game was so loved by the people who played it and I love the game a lot as well. Honestly this game is so good that I don’t think I’m fluent enough in english to do the game justice.

9/10 One of the best game I’ve ever played, right up there with NieR: Automata, Persona 5, and FF IX.

2 thoughts on “Suikoden II – A Classic That Will Never Get Old

  1. I just replayed this lovely game. Forgot how special it was. How can a game from the 90s create better characterizations with just a few lines of dialogue than games today which have endless opportunities to flesh out characters?

    Like

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