Suikoden 2 is
one of THE best JRPG I’ve ever played. Period. What’s not to love? It has a beautifully orchestrated soundtrack that just sets the scene wonderfully, it has timeless 16 bit styled graphics, a unique battle system that is both simple to learn and difficult to master, a story line that the one time brilliant people of Konami weaved, and it’s a rollercoaster of a ride. Okay, some of the translations seem a little…wrong but this game has it all! If there was ever a 10/10 game out there, this is the one. The masterpiece that all credible game developers should aspire to, and unfortunately, a good portion of you out there probably have never heard of it. This was due to budget constraints set by Konami at the time, which resulted in what we call a “limited release”. Now, the game was readily available in Japan, where the game was created and subsequent sequels and spin offs would remain, however, in the US and Europe, only a certain number of copies were translated and shipped across from Japan, due to some idiot in marketing taking a look at this and saying “Those western people won’t enjoy this as much as Final Fantasy VII”. What a crock of s**t. The result of this was that many gamers didn’t even know of its existence, and even more of those gamers wouldn’t be able to play this until it’s eventual digital release, but only this year was it finally released in the UK on PSN, and that still brings my blood to a boil.
This game was once a lost treasure, similar to that of the lost Sindar treasure (which you quest for at one point in the game I might add), commanding outrageous prices on Ebay and the like, easily boasting £100 (roughly $160). The rare nature of this game would indicate to most people, one of two things: Either the game was bad and didn’t sell enough copies to be freely circulated in the public market, or someone messed up. Thankfully, it’s the latter in this case, since this game is a hidden gem that any RPG fanatic would love.
Suikoden 2 boasts an enormous roster of characters, with 108 being the magic number of characters you can recruit. This doesn’t count any NPC’s that are important to the story, or indeed any characters that happen to have artwork. 108 characters sounds like a lot of work, right? Well it is. It’s a VERY long game, with speed runs still only managing to clock just under 7 hours. Now these guys are professionals that know the game inside and out, and it still takes nearly 7 hours to complete, ignoring side quests, skipping through dialogue and various parts of the game. My first play-through took me in the region of around 102 hours to complete, in its entirety. Even now, I’d probably say a good 25-30 hours would be pushing me to get everything in the game. Suikoden 2 has a boat load of hidden extras, from mini games including rock climbing, cooking, fishing, dancing, and then you have all of the hidden characters to find too, all of the little Easter eggs, all of the cooking recipes, all of the books for the library, all of the statue pieces for the castle…the list goes on. Trust me when I say, this game has content coming out of the wazoo. Oh wait…spell check tells me that’s not a word, so okay – this game has a lot to do.
Rant aside, this game has various different methods of combat, your standard battles which feature up to 6 versus 6 battles, which range from very easy to incredibly hard, depending on how much time you’ve put into the game, your formation, your equipment…okay, see? Another can of worms. You can also take part in 1 versus 1 duels, which featured heavily in the 1st game, and work on a sort of rock, paper, scissors basis, where you pick attack, wild attack or defend. Depending on the outcome, you can inflict a lot of damage quickly, or prevent damage to yourself. Mastery of this is a requirement, as one of the hardest bosses in the game fight your main character in a duel.
There are also large scale war like battles, similar to Fire Emblem, where you have to tactically move around units and complete certain objectives, such as defend an area, defeat a certain officer or take control of an area. These battles are intense and some of my peers have attempted some of the harder battles where the odds are stacked against you in order to see if a victory is at all possible. The large scale battles are usually a way of bringing the story to a climax, where escape is impossible through normal means, and its not just one or two guys you have to beat, but an entire army. Suikoden 2 handles these situations with a certain level of intensity and giving the player more freedom to try out tactics.
In terms of the story, it is a true masterpiece that encompasses everything from love, betrayal, loyalty, friendship and honor all into one amazing script. It’s amazing how attached you can get to some of the most annoying characters. You know why? Because the story is brilliantly told and each and every character is fully explored, and fleshed out. We get to know the majority of the cast just by having them close by, and some of the others by seeing how they react to certain situations. It still astonishes me that in certain scenes throughout the game, characters each have a UNIQUE piece of dialogue, depending on whether they are present or not. That’s no easy feat, to keep in mind the amount of variables that exist, and that you could have easily “glitched” the game to recruit certain characters earlier than intended. As you battle your way through endless waves of monsters and soldiers against one of the greatest gaming antagonists of all time, Luca Blight, you need to keep in mind the focus of the narrative. Essentially, Suikoden 2 encompasses impending war where ordinary people and the most unlikely allies are forced to band together and triumph to keep themselves alive. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about the story at length without spoiling various parts of the game, and in this sort of game, the journey is everything, so spoiling parts of the game would partially take some of the experience away, so with that in mind – I’m not telling.
Virtually all of the artwork in the game is hand drawn, and the care and effort taken into each and every character, even
minor ones, is amazing. A lot of love went into this game, and I have a lot of love for it. Go check out this game, it’s easily one of the best games out there, and it’s available for download on the PlayStation 3, or if you’re lucky enough to own a copy, or just want to spend a lot of money, you can play it on the Sony PlayStation, as Konami originally intended.
Ryan Griffiths is a British gamer, known as a bit of a lone wolf. Retro games are his passion, with newer releases not living up to his expectations. Of course there are exceptions to the rule when it comes to Dynasty Warriors & Total War games.