Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Suikoden (PSX)
You Are: The unnamed (and non-talking) son of General Teo McDohl of the Empire.
Your Goal Is: There's an Empire in the game. Take a wild guess.
General System: Suikoden tries to take more of a "macro" view of the battle between good and evil. To that end, you have to collect an army of people. The main hook here is that there's 108 characters to recruit to your Liberation Army, who hole up in your HQ (once you get an HQ). Other than that, you walk around, shop, and fight random battles. There are also rare "army" battles, which is kind of like Rock-Paper-Scissors (except with Charge, Magic, and Bow attacks), as well as even rarer "duel" battles, which also follows the same idea (except with Defense, Attack, and Desperate Attack). Most of the time you can have up to six people in your group, but between 1 and 5 of them, depending on the story, are stuck in there and can't leave. There's a limited number of items each character can hold (and no grab bag). Armor can be shared, but each character has a specific weapon which must be "sharpened" to upgrade it.
Battle System: Ye olde school RPG battles. The MP system is like good ol' FF1, with four "magic levels", each with their own MP. Every character can equip one Rune, which either allows you to cast spells, or has effects like upping critical hit status or allowing you to run (that's right, you have to waste a Rune slot to be able to run). Each character is short-range (must be in the front row), long-range (must be in the back row) or medium-range (can choose). There are also Unite attacks, where specific characters can combo up for major damage.
Graphics: SNES-era, and that's being generous. Honestly, there are plenty of SNES games that look better than this. Other than the rotating camera and the entirely unnecessary intro movie, there's no reason this game should be on the PSX.
Music: It's not bad, but that's the best that can be said of it.
Story: Although the premise is interesting (emphasizing the strategy of war rather than the plucky band of young heroes), the execution is awful. Characters are expressionless and emotionless (neither their face images nor their sprites have any animation). The translation is pretty bad (although not Wild-Arms-2-terrible) and drains what story there exists of any feeling.
Length: About 20 hours
My Thoughts: This game was a mistake. It has a lot of potential, but it's all squandered. Other than the "catch-em-all" glee of collecting characters, I just don't see much to recommend for it. Yes, there's 108 characters, but maybe 20 of them have any kind of story, and of those 20, maybe 5 or 6 have any kind of personality or screen time. The battles tend towards the tedious, and I hate not being able to stockpile items and healing spells. The end result is a mess. I can't say that I hated playing it, but there's much better ways for me to spend my time.
Overall Rating: 4.0/10