Why You Should Play Suikoden II, One Of The Best RPGs Ever Made. That’s all thanks to the surprise reveal that Konami and Sony were teaming up to do something fans had been begging them to do for almost a decade: Bring Suikoden II to PSN.

Why You Should Play Suikoden II, One Of The Best RPGs Ever Made

I honestly never thought I’d write the words “Suikoden II is out on PSN.” But here we are, and finally, today’s gamers can play one of the world’s finest role-playing games without pulling out the old PS1 and wasting a small fortune on eBay. You can now buy a copy of Suikoden II that can run on both PS3 and Vita for the damn reasonable price of $10. And you really, really should.

Yeah, it’s a Japanese phonetic spelling of a legendary Chinese novel upon which this series is loosely based. It’s not a great name in English, obviously, which is a shame—I’ve long believed that with a catchier title and some better marketing, the Suikoden games could have been huge hits outside of Japan.

Why You Should Play Suikoden II, One Of The Best RPGs Ever Made

Why You Should Play Suikoden II, One Of The Best RPGs Ever Made

I’ll make it quick. In 1995, not long after the launch of the PlayStation, Konami released a 2D role-playing game with a killer soundtrack called Suikoden. Its creators—led by a programmer named Yoshitaka Murayama—opted to prioritize storytelling and atmosphere over the fancy 3D graphics that were just starting to take off, and perhaps because of that, people really dug it. For a while, Suikoden was widely considered the best RPG on PlayStation—sorry, Beyond the Beyond!—and it resonated with fans thanks to a great premise, fast-paced combat, and a poignant story.

So many things. SO MANY THINGS. It’s a journey that is simultaneously grandiose and intimate, somehow juggling both sweeping political machinations and close personal friendships without missing a beat. There’s a villain, Luca Blight, who ranks among the most terrifying creatures to ever appear in a video game. The characters are lovely. The story can be heartbreaking. It looks great. It sounds great. The combat is really satisfying. There’s a cooking mini-game. There are flying squirrels. There’s friendship and betrayal and love and death.

You start out as a low-level soldier and find yourself entangled in a giant war that eventually places you in charge of your very own castle and army. Suikoden II—like its predecessor and every other main installment in the series—lets you recruit and collect a cast of 108+ characters, each of whom has his or her own function and personality. And as you collect those characters, your garrison expands, as does your home base. It’s really cool.

It’s part of the charm. Some of the characters are boring or one-note, as is inevitable with such a large cast, but many of them are as interesting and fleshed-out as the stars of any good RPG. You’ll also find a good number of returning characters from the first Suikoden, including two particularly lovable bros that have become the stars of erotic fanfiction worldwide.

So I should play the first one?

Yeah, you really should. One of the things people really love about the main Suikoden games is the continuity. Unlike other RPGs, the Suikoden games are all set in the same universe, with recurring storylines, characters, and settings, making this franchise more akin to one big TV series than it is to, say, a movie. It’s sort of like Game of Thrones, if season 1 was only about the Starks and then season 2 starred the Lannisters in King’s Landing but was full of Stark appearances and references.

Also, you can bring your Suikoden save file over to Suikoden II for some bonus scenes and a Very Special Sidequest that I won’t spoil.

What if I can only play one of them?

If you absolutely can’t play the first Suikoden, you can rest assured that #2 stands on its own. The first one is worth your time, of course. It’s a great game—short and sweet—and it’ll make you appreciate Suikoden II that much more. (Plus it’s only $5 on PS3/Vita.) But if you don’t have the time or patience for a 20-hour appetizer, feel free to dig right into the main course.

Is Suikoden really like Game of Thrones?

It really, really is. “Game of Thrones meets Pokémon” might be the best way to put it. Like Game of Thrones, this is a story about human beings fighting for peace and power under unimaginable circumstances. And like Pokémon, you can spend hours trying to collect ‘em all.

 

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