: : Inventive and original while still keeping traditional RPG traits, Suikoden (also known by its lengthier Japanese title, Genso Suikoden) stands proudly as an overlooked jewel next to the giant that is Final Fantasy. Famous for its large and eccentric cast of characters, Suikoden was one of the first RPGs released for the PSX, and its sequel, due out at the end of the summer, is eagarly awaited by fans.

Four main characters

 : : The game stars a nameless boy, assisted by his father's servants: Cleo, Pahn, and Gremio. The boy is the son of the highly revered hero Teo McDohl, one of the Emperor's five generals, and it is hoped that that he will follow in his father's footsteps. Unfortunately, the emperor seems to have fallen under the charms of an evil woman named Windy, who bears a striking resemblance to his late wife, Claudia. Windy is after the hero's best friend, Ted, and a sacred rune Ted has embedded in his hand. These runes become the focus of the game as they offer amazing powers and temptations, corrupting some, and saving others.

The Souleater Rune

 : : Young Master, as everyone in the game refers to the boy as, meets Windy's sister, Leknaat, on his first mission for the Scarlet Moon Empire, and she reveals that he has a destiny very different from his father's. He is the Tenkai star, and must find and unite the 108 Stars of Destiny, for the power of the 108 is the only thing capable of defeating Windy. A whirlwind of betrayal leads Young Master to abandon the empire when Ted gives him the Sacred Rune, Soul Eater. The recurring mystery surrounding Soul Eater and Windy's hunt for its power drives the plot of the entire game; its curse bringing sorrow to the Young Master as it claims the lives of those close to him. Some of the most moving scenes in the game are the result of the Soul Eater Rune, the lives it claims, and the power of these souls that reappear at the end of the game to aid the hero.

Viki's teleportation

 : : The hero inadvertently becomes the leader of the rebellious Liberation Army and establishes a castle for the Stars of Destiny in the middle of a lake. The characters and the castle are one of the most original parts of Suikoden, and probably the most enjoyable. The castle starts out very small but, as more characters, are collected it grows and changes visibly. Some characters establish shops that sell armor, sharpen weapons or attach runes, while others set up other useful and interesting things: a vault, a library, an inn, a map making room, an elevator, even a bath! Ivanov the painter will even paint you a mural of the Liberation Army, but only if you find him all the paint. The castle becomes the central point of the game. From the basement, Viki can teleport the party to any location previously visited, while the Magic Mirror given to the hero by Hellion will warp him back to the castle from anywhere on the overworld.

Friends atop a cliff

 : : Finding the 108 Stars of Destiny is no easy task though. While some of them automatically join your party during the course of the story, others must be found, bribed by money or strength, or rewarded by something before they will offer their services. Hours spent fighting Holly Fairies to get a Nameless Urn for Jabba, running in and out of the inn to find Clive, or chasing a cat to earn Lotte -- all these little sidequests add so much to what could have been a very boring story. Many different groups of people will aid the Liberation Army -- from Kobolds, Elves, and Dwarves to the Dragon Knights and the Empire's own Generals. Although the characters are many, a good majority of them have little personality or real role in the story. Thankfully, the ones that do are amusing and endearing. Pahn is always hungry, Gremio is forever worrying, Viktor is always acting macho, Tengaar orders Hix around, and Flik still pines sadly after Odessa...these little bits add a touch of emotion to the story.

An army battle

 : : The battle system is divided into three different styles, the first being the regular menu based RPG combat most games employ. The second is a one-on-one style, used only a few times in the game more for story effect (and rather lamely so) than anything else. The last type is a full army battle that, while fun, is a fairly easy rock-paper-scissors game easily won with the aid of certain characters that can predict the enemy's moves. Still, the variety is an original touch, and will be back in better quality in the sequel. The graphics are nothing spectacular; given that the game came early on in the life of the PSX, however, it's not much of a surprise. On the other hand, the music is outstanding, and certain places in the game will allow you to play back the many memorable tunes from your quest. The ending music in particular is wonderful, giving amazing feeling to the little bits about each character as their pictures click by. Window, another one of the Stars of Destiny, will alow you to change the window settings, while Melodye will allow you to change the sound settings.

 : : Suikoden is treasured by its fans for its originality and the replay value associated with finding all 108 Stars of Destiny. The sequel promises another huge cast of characters (with some of the favorites from the original returning to join the new party), as well as the unique trio of battle modes. Perhaps the most touching aspect of Suikoden, however, is the idea that the lives of these characters are controlled by destiny and not free will, and that the power of the people can overcome the corruption of their ruler no matter what the odds.

Retrospective by Tamzen Marie Baker, GIA.
Developer Konami
Publisher Konami
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium CD (1)
Platform PSX
Release Date 12.96
Walkthrough / FAQ
72 screen shots
26 character designs / Soundtrack art
Game & guide covers