April 30, 2013

Suikoden II – Hard to Imagine Without Suikoden I

Posted in video games tagged , at 4:01 pm by riulyn

Beware of all the spoilers following for Suikoden and Suikoden II. You have been warned.

I just finished another replay of Suikoden II and my first replay in quite a few years and the game still amazes me. There are too many ways that I love it, but I think there is one obvious way that I’ll talk about below: how it takes characters from Suikoden I and makes them even more endearing.

Suikoden games of course are full of characters and many characters that don’t get very much dialogue. This means that entire characterizations of certain characters can depend entirely on a few moments. In addition, Suikoden I in particular is missing many small features to give characters even more personality that appear in later games. In Suikoden II little things like the fact that a character can show up in your castle in 2 or 3 different places, the suggestion box, and the investigations give a little more background. Even the cooking mini-game has your recruitable characters as judges, and they don’t all act the same.

While Suikoden II added a whole bunch of charming new characters to the Suikoden universe, many of the fan favorites and my favorites make a second appearance. It’s their development that makes it really hard to imagine Suikoden II without Suikoden I. I’m going to go into a few notable ones below, but there are plenty of smaller ones.

1. Flik and Viktor’s entrance. I played Suikoden II pretty much right after beating Suikoden I, so I don’t think I contemplated Flik and Viktor’s end as much as some other people did, but the ending credits make it unclear whether Viktor and Flik actually survived the last battle at the palace. Well, it wasn’t exactly clear (to me at least) that Viktor and Flik would actually be together even if they had both survived. Before Suikoden I, the two were basically strangers united by Odessa. Odessa’s early death led to a brief moment where Viktor’s foreign background was highlighted. At the same time, Viktor’s the one to remind Flik to get out of his funk, but the pressing needs of the war really brought them together. I speculate that Viktor’s fondness for the main character of Suikoden I and Flik’s relatively quick acceptance of him due to story events served as a bridge towards real friendship.

Anyway, it’s hard for me to imagine seeing Flik and Viktor for the first time in Suikoden II without cheering, and there’s no reason to really care for them at that moment when all they are doing is fishing the main character out of the river. They quickly endear themselves to everyone, though, so it’s no huge loss.

2. Viktor and Annabelle. Suikoden I establishes Viktor as a rather no frills, willing to do the dirty work, and pretty confident in about anything he wanted to do. It came as a surprise to me to think of Viktor as someone who thinks about romance but also has no self-esteem when it comes to that. It’s a very charming addition to his character. This is further compounded by learning about North Window.

3. Viktor and the Star Dragon Sword and Neclord. Having played Suikoden I, I expected the banter as soon as the Star Dragon Sword showed up. Also, Viktor would definitely have some lines for Neclord. Of course I was still pleasantly surprised by Viktor’s amazing line against Neclord when that time came. So classic, so good.

4. Flik and Nina. Suikoden I establishes Odessa as Flik’s one true love, or at least someone he wasn’t going to forget for a very long time. It also establishes his awkwardness with pretty much any female advances on him. Nina stalks Flik enough to learn about Odessa’s existence but not her name. I think knowing who Flik’s thinking about makes the information really stand out.

5. Kasumi and the main character of Suikoden I. This is probably the best bonus. In this playthrough of Suikoden II I actually didn’t use the main character from Suikoden I that much as a party member (he’s incredibly powerful, especially with the unite with the Suikoden II main character), but the first time he was a staple. Bringing Kasumi along for the main character side quest is even better. Where Kasumi would otherwise have little characterization in Suikoden II, she gets to have a rather sad conversation with the main character. I actually didn’t care for her that much in Suikoden I, but that conversation in Suikoden II really made me like her. Also it gives your silent protagonist from Suikoden I even more character as a bonus.

In conclusion, I find that there are too many memorable moments in Suikoden II that aren’t influenced by my knowledge of Suikoden I. I still think the game stands up wonderfully without the Suikoden I prior experience, but considering how much harder it is to get Suikoden II compared to Suikoden I, I just don’t see why anyone nowadays would not want to enhance their Suikoden II experience by having the Suikoden I experience first.


1 Comment »

  1. Joseph said,

    Suikoden II is steadily climbing to the top of my must play list. Why is this game so much money and why am I so cheap?! 🙂

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