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ASK WHEELS
Revenge of the King
June 29th, 2012

06/29- 12:00PM EST

Someone wrote in about Suikoden! This always excites me. Anyway, we've got some more great questions this week. I've sent along an e-mail to the winner of the Penny Arcade Adventures Steam code. Hope you enjoy it! I'll probably do this again in the near future. Anyway, let's see what is on everyone's minds this week...





The Letters
Suikoawesome

Wheels, my man!  It’s nice to look up at the column history and see the fresh consistency!  It’s been such a long time since that has happened.  Probably the googlshng days, but I wasn’t much a fun of his column.  Brad the Oracle has been my favorite columnist thus far, though you are quickly climbing the ranks!  Brad was a huge Suikoden fan, and there weren’t many back in those days.  So anyway…


Wheels

Thanks! It's an honor to see my name put among the likes of other past Q&A columnists. I try my best to make sure this goes out every week. I think it's important not to let letters linger too long in the backlog. After-all, who wants to ask a question about some burning topic only to see it answered long after you've stopped caring? I hope I can continue to keep this column consistent, and I'm glad you enjoy it. As I'm sure you know, I am a Suikoden fan, so this should be fun.

Speaking of Suikoden.  I love that game.  I truly consider it Zen.  I think the soundtrack in that game is nearly flawless and the whole setting is amazing.  I loved trying to figure out how to pick up the extra characters and then seeing which ones were available to use in battle, what their strengths were, and what characters they could combo with!  And then, on top of that, there were the war battles which were a nice, fun, clean variation of rock, paper, scissors.  And then, on top of that, they throw in some fierce one on one, hit or miss, good luck or die, battles that have some serious connotations to, not only the end of the game in general, but the status and the future games you play in the series.  They seriously went above and beyond in the first two games.


Wheels

Absolutely! What's sad is I almost completely missed the original game. I picked it up on a whim after seeing it for cheap at the closing sale for a video rental place. It took a while before I really gave it a fair shot, but I quickly discovered it to be one of the best games on the PS1. The combat system especially shines. You get a huge six person party, and yet the battles are blazingly fast. You won't find any lengthy summon animations here. The other battle types don't shine quite as brightly as the party-based combat, but they aren't as frequent either. They serve as nice ways to break up the action, and nicely emphasize the conflict the game's story explores. I loved it. The second game? The second game, I am going to come out and say this, is the best game the PS1 ever produced.

So I’m sad to say that my foray into Suikoden, almost almost, ends there.  I have tried to go back and play 3, I didn’t play it when it came out and was still fresh, so I tried to play it and just did not like the look of it’s 3D style and it’s contrived, watered down battle system.  I didn’t like how the items between party members were paired during battle, as well as certain spells that were cast.  I do like how the stories were set up though and it gives you different options for which hero to start out with, and the fact that there were 3 heroes.  So I stopped playing it because I just got bored.  I’m sure someday, when I have tons of free time, in my retirement when I’m playing games to pass the time and make me feel happy in my sad, lonely, old age, I will give it another shot.


Wheels

It's interesting, Suikoden III is the critical darling of the series, yet seems to be the most divisive game for Suikoden's biggest fans. I haven't gotten to it myself,  but it sounds like they weren't quite able to reproduce the simple and effective 2D sprites of the originals in a nice looking 3D game. I think you should give it another shot! I believe this is the last game involving the series main creator, so I refuse to believe that there is no value in it given how good I and II are. I mean, how could something with this stunning intro be bad? I think that its crime may be changing the gameplay systems too much.

I’m intrigued at IV, though I’ve heard that it really isn’t that great.  But I will still hunt down a copy.  I own 5.  And might I say it stares me down everyday of my life, sitting high and mighty amongst countless other PS2 games.  The gem you haven’t played, you know you want to.  I heard it’s the great redemption of the series and makes many top 5 lists, even some of those on staff at Rpgamer.com.  So I’m stoked for it.  I would love to see PS3 exclusive someday.  I’d even more so like to see Suikoden 2 on the PSN, I would even pay a fresh 30 or 40 bucks to just download it, because seriously, upwards of 150 bucks online just seems ridiculous to me.  So have you heard anything on a new Suikoden game?  The last game was Tierkris right?  Why would they abandon such a great series like that?  Tell me Wheels.  Give me some Suikoden feedback, thoughts on the series, high points, low points, come on, what ya got?


Wheels

IV is interesting. I haven't gotten to it myself, but despite being regarded as the worst in the series, it seems to have many fans. Could it just be a bad Suikoden game, but a fine RPG when you don't compare it to the high standards of the series? Who knows. It did seem to kill the forward momentum of the series.

V is absolutely a return to form for the series. Play it at your earliest convenience! I most warn you that the game has some long loading times, and gets off to a very slow start. If you have a fast enough computer you can get around the long loading times by playing it through an Emulator. If you do get around to it, please write back in! I would love to hear your thoughts on the game.

I'll tell you the honest truth. I paid more than a hundred dollars for Suikoden II, and I don't regret it in the slightest. That game was worth every penny! Of course you're probably wondering why I didn't just get it back in the day since I had enjoyed the first game. Well, in my foolish youth, I thought the game too expensive for the $25-30 price range I saw it for because it didn't get stellar reviews. Whoops? Oh well, at least it was cheaper than Panzer Dragoon Saga!  It really needs to get on PSN given that the first has been there for ages. More people need a way to play this masterpiece. Also I agree, I want a new Suikoden on PS3!

Now, onto the latest games in the series. Tierkris actually got a sequel of sorts for the PSP in the same style. While I don't think Tierkris is bad by any stretch, it completely throws out most of what made the series so unique, and turns the series to the realm of run-of-the-mill JRPG. Despite the issues with Suikoden IV I would have to say this right here is the low point (I'm sure you can tell what I think the high point is). Suikoden V sold just fine, so I don't get the radical shift away from the series proper. It is clearly a lower budget series so an HD game seems a hard sell. Still, if you're going to do a portable game, why change it so much? Why not just remove the Suikoden name at that point? I need to write in to our resident man in Japan to try and get a tap on what Japanese Suikoden fans think of all this. Rumours of a new main title have been scarce since I heard some about a possible Suikoden VI on Wii, so for now it seems the series will remain dormant.  This displeases me more than I can say.

Ok.  So.  Chrono TriggerChrono Cross.  The first time I played through Chrono Cross I thought it was the most amazing thing ever.  I like the battle system, I thought the plot phenomenal, and I liked the idea of recruiting lots of characters as I was still playing Suikoden 2 and thought it was just plain awesome.  The music in Cross was stellar as well.  So I played it to death, Loved it.  I thought the frozen sea was very interesting, and probably my favorite place in the game since that’s where it really tied its predecessor with itself.


Wheels

I actually had a different experience on my first playthrough. I couldn't really get into it! The music was great, combat was fun, but it just didn't have the same spark that Chrono Trigger did. No one can deny the quality of the music!

So I went back to it later and found myself with a huge distaste for the element system and how long it took assigning spells to certain levels, and blah blah blah.  It just took way too much time, and I was like, OMG, I have to do this again?  But the story still blows me away to this day, and I love the game for that, and the graphic and visual style.  I would comment on a sequel.


Wheels

Again, the opposite for me. I hated the element system the first time through, but loved it when I went back to the game. Go figure? Anyway, more Chrono is certainly a must. Let's talk about a sequel.

I just think they should experiment more with the fabric of time, and how maybe what was an original timeline was destroyed and they are trying to put back the pieces of time and all the other oddities that were created to exactly what they were before anything ever happened, so Lavos basically never existed.  Or the dimensional aspect akin to something like Fringe where things have become so twisted and distorted as a result of time travel and crossing dimensions.


Wheels

Major Brownie points for mentioning Fringe. I adore that show! There are so many weird and wonderful things they could explore in a sequel to this. Just reading a bit on quantum physics, there's many weird multidimensional angles they could take. I think people often think of time travel as the go to story idea for a sequel, but I find the dimensional aspect much more interesting. What if all that time traveling is causing the fabric of space and time to unravel, and the barrier between dimensions becomes very weak? Imagine what they could do.

So, ever play the translated Radical Dreamers?  Or heard about the Satellaview game?  What are your thoughts on this game?  I don’t think I’ve heard mention of it in any of your columns yet.
 
So that’s all I have for you this evening, I’m tired, amongst other THINGS.  I good you bid evening.
 
Ian W


Wheels

I haven't played much of it, it is on my very long to do list. I know it follows the same basic story that Chrono Cross does, but not to the same depth. Also Lynx is not a cat in Radical Dreamers! I'm not big on text adventures anymore so it will be tough to dig into that one. Thanks for the great questions! Please right in about Suikoden again some time. It set off some great reminiscing on twitter!

Q&A Quickies

Hey Wheels,

I made a gaming friend in real life this week, which is and it inspired a bunch of short questions I'm curious about:

Out of the more traditional character stereotypes, which do you play as when given the choice?  E.g. physical, magical, support, etc.


Wheels

Excellent, it is always cool to find new gaming friends!

I always go for the magical route. Since getting into fantasy games I've always thought wizards were simply the coolest. So many cool things that you can do with magic. I can't say a particular game or book made me latch onto wizards, but the black mage design in Final Fantasy helped.

What's the coolest item you've gotten in a game? Mine would be the Trader Card in Xenogears. Item drop rate increases don't normally excite me, cause I'm not a completionist in having to have one of everything, so if the 'best' weapons have a 0.05% drop rate, I don't care -- but I remember loving having this because you get it before the very end of the game. Most times you get ultimate equipment/items right before you beat the game, so you don't have time to enjoy it!


Wheels

I would have to say the coolest item I've gotten in a game would be the Excalibur in the original SaGa (aka Final Fantasy Legend). After going through the whole game with degrading weapons it was an incredible experience to find one with essentially unlimited uses. I can't really think of a cooler item discovery in a game.

What do you think about a Ninja Gaiden RPG? Not just the experience towards spells style they have now, but a legit action RPG, with a difficulty comparable to Demon's/Dark Souls? I always felt these stories could be better serviced.


Wheels

I would be all over this. The fast paced and challenging gameplay of the Ninja Gaiden series with added customization and other RPG features? That could be something truly amazing. It would have to be better than the mediocre game they produced for the third entry in the series. Come on Tecmo Koei, give it a try!

Have you played any Phantasy Stars? I'm doing II via XBLA and I can't decide if it's old-school fun, or if I want to rip my eyes out.

Have a good summer weekend!

--
Jarrod Stokes


Wheels

I have played some Phantasy Star, finishing III and IV. Phantasy Star IV is a brilliant game, but the others are harder to go back to. Phantasy Star I & II really need a visual update like we've seen done with the Final Fantasy series so many times. Stick with the game, and then play IV if you can. Despite the very dated graphics I believe you'll find the story is worth it in the end. Good luck!

Grand Arch-Admiral of Content (Part the second)

Connection challenge!  Link The Silver Horde to Ys V!


Wheels

Easy! RKO Pictures distributed The Silver Horde -> RKO Pictures also distributed King Kong -> Konami made several King Kong video games -> Konami ported and published Ys VI on PS2 and PSP -> Falcom owns the Ys series -> Falcom developed and published Ys V for Super Famicom

So I have to sell you on playing one of the two Original Generation games in the Super Robot Taisen series that came out in English as an appetizer, eh?  I think I can do that, you being a tactical game lover.  Let's see here.


Wheels

Well seeing as I bought the first one for a very cheap price, it shouldn't take much to get me to at least give that one a try. Then again I do have a huge backlog, so perhaps it will still be a challenge. Have at it!

You like improving your units on your own?  Prepare to enjoy this.  The cash you get from killing enemies is used for improving the robots that are used in battle.  You can either upgrade the robot's statistics or you can improve the power of its weapons.  But that's not all!  Most (not all) of these weapons can be swapped between the robots until you get a combination that works best for you.  The pilots can also be moved around until you find units that are best for each other.  There are a few exceptions of units that are reserved for only one person, but there's a lot of freedom to play around as you like. 


Wheels

With all that it sounds quite possible I'll be spending just as much time customizing as I will in actual combat. This is not a bad thing.

A moment in Original Generation 2 illustrates some of this.  By undertaking a very specific series of events that is extremely difficult to guess without a FAQ, Lamia Loveless gets a new robot later in the game.  It can either be the Ashsaber, something everyone can use, or the Vysaga, something only she can use.  Thing is, she already has the Angelg, which is exclusive to her.  Vysaga is a beast that will help enormously, though.  Decisions, decisions....


Wheels

This is interesting. I suppose I should track down an Original Generation 2 cart as well. With GBA games selling for 75% off at Gamestop right now, I have little excuse not to!

Just playing around with the robots isn't the end, though!  The characters are also given points that you can augment their statistics with, along with skills that you have quite a bit of say in choosing.  Everyone comes with at least one ability that's set, but the rest (up to six) are up to you to select.  Things like being able to support attack (EXTREMELY helpful), do more damage with ranged weapons, use less energy when attacking, or do more damage at a certain point in the battle.  Among many others.


Wheels

This is not good sir, not good at all. Do you have any idea how dangerous this could be to my free time? I have other games to finish! I have a review to write! I still have to finish Lunar Sega CD. This is not good.

Speaking of doing more damage, there's a concept in SRT called Will/Morale that needs explanation.  Everyone starts a battle with a certain amount of it, usually 100.  Thing is, lots of weapons are unusable at 100 will.  You have to raise it by fighting, and the best way to do that is to take down enemy grunts because everyone gets a boost when that's done.  This makes the grunts vital, and the occasional fight without many enemies rather challenging if a boss appears (and they usually do). 


Wheels

Sounds like an interesting system, and not something typically done in these games. You know I love challenge, so I'm looking forward to how these battles with fewer grunts play out.

Speaking of bosses, you'll need to get your instincts in order for these nasties. SRT bosses usually come with a couple of insidious abilities. The first tends to be HP Regen, meaning that they'll regain anywhere from 10 to 30% of their life at the beginning of the next round. Better be ready to pound them with everything you've got before initiating the smackdown! Also, they love to have something called Prevail. On your people it doesn't tend to help much, but bosses have huge HP meters and Prevail makes their evasion and defense increase as you whittle it away. As you might imagine, this is a recipe for making the finish of the fight the most dangerous part. I could say more about these games, and I probably will until you take the plunge. Let this serve as one more goad, then. Just try losing with that playing to urge you on.


Wheels

Well, that right there is enough to make me take the plunge. I love difficult bosses and it sounds like these games are filled to the brim with them. I'm going to fire up the first game over the weekend and play a few battles. We'll see how much I like it! If for someone reason I hate the games, I'll give them away on Q&A or something. I have a worrying feeling I may be importing some of the games eventually...

So Dragon Quest V is the most highly regarded from many sources, eh?  I can see that.  It's unexpectedly touching.  Dragon Quest games usually don't get much story credit, but this one does a good job.


Wheels

Absolutely, I would say it has by far the best main story in the series. Despite this, I think what the Dragon Quest does best as far as story goes, is the various mini-stories in the various locals. They don't typically have the best main plot, but I have yet to play a Dragon Quest game (after III) that didn't have some touching story along the way.

Will Shining Force: Final Conflict ever see a release on something other than the Game Gear?  I've always been curious about it, but haven't done the emulation thing and don't feel like subsidizing Energizer to play it on the actual hardware. I think that will be enough for now. 

Your content has been supplied!
JuMeSyn


Wheels

I don't think so. Sega seems content to only port the first two games to various platforms, given the popularity of retro-genesis collections. You should go ahead and play it on a Game Gear though, you can get an AC adapter for it so that you don't need to use batteries at all. Granted that means it is less portable, but that's OK. It is an interesting entry in the series, but as the Game Gear games pale in comparison to the main series, it is not a big loss if you never play it.

Thank you as always for the great questions!

BUY BUY BUY

Wheels,
 
Why do Spellforce and its sequels not get the loving they deserve?  A new expansion (called Faith in Destiny) was recently released and I almost missed hearing about it.  Does no-one realize that Spellforce is the ultimate hybrid of RPG and RTS?  We're talking about an RTS with a persistent world where you can travel back to previous maps in order to accomplish side quests!  Please encourage your readers to take a good look at the Spellforce family of games on a PC near you!  You can get the whole series on Steam for cheap!  Too many !'s!
 
Thanks,
Draconn


Wheels

I'm not sure, maybe just not enough advertising for them? The name sounds familiar but I can't say that I've ever actually played it. Still, the game and its expansions seem to have been going strong for a while, so I guess it does get enough loving! We do have a gamepage for it, though no one ever reviewed it. I'll have to give it a try, and perhaps see if we're covering the new expansion. This seems like something many of our readers would enjoy!
IN CLOSING

That's it, I'm off to go play some more SaGa...

See you next week!

-Wheels


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