Tag Archives: Barbarossa

The Young Master and Dunan Unification Army leader join forces

meeting mcdohl in suikoden 2 gd

When you start Suikoden II for the first time, the game checks to see if you’ve previously played Suikoden. If you’re a good l’il gamer and still got save data on your PlayStation 1 memory card, you’re in luck. Well, maybe. Not that Konami tells you why, but there are plenty of bonuses to reap from already playing the previous game, the greatest being that you can actually get Tir McDohl’s son to join your side and fight along Hodor, Nanami, and friends. It’s a little tricky and troublesome, but totally worth the effort, as well as the short stroll down memory lane.

First off, here’s a really good breakdown about what changes can happen for characters from the first game that do appear in Suikoden II. It all depends on how far you leveled them up during your time fighting Barbarossa, but only if they were level 60 or above. There are other perks for starting equipment, runes, and weapons, too. Hmm. Given that I ran through Suikoden in twenty-ish hours and focused on only a small, select bunch of fighters, I really don’t think anyone got that high up. Sure, I could check, but that would mean removing Suikoden II‘s disc from my PlayStation 2, something I’m not yet ready to do.

Those stat bonuses aside, the real reason to let Konami know you played Suikoden is for the chance to “recruit” Tir McDohl’s son, aka the Young Master, aka Pauly (as I named him). And I say “recruit” in quotation marks because he does not actually count as a Star of Destiny, nor does he take up residence in your castle headquarters, but more on that shortly.

So, the soonest you can find McDohl is right after the big, multi-tiered battle with Luca Blight. In Banner Village, you can speak to a young kid called Ko who is dressed to the nines like some doe-eyed Hodor cosplayer, and this kid will inform the gang that someone named “McDohl” is staying at the inn, spending most of the day fishing. Well, except, in my case, McDohl is called PcDohl due to Konami’s extremely poor translation job. Basically, for each capital letter you have in your original McDohl’s name, those capital letters will be transferred into McDohl’s name in Suikoden II, replacing the original letters one by one. Much like I did with Suikoden‘s bad grammar, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures of wonky writing and translation problems for a big post after I’ve beaten Suikoden II. Stay tuned, grammar gurus.

Anyways, since I recruited all 107 Stars of Destiny before Suikoden‘s final battle and got Gremio revived (spoilerz!!!1!1!), both Pauly McDohl and Gremio appear in Banner Village. You then go on a short side quest to save Ko who got kidnapped by bandits, eventually ending back up in Gregminster and Tir McDohl’s household for supper. Now, I’ve written about what Gregminster means to me before, so returning to it was such a delight, as well as a swirl of emotions and desires. You’ll find Gregminster has changed, though not too much, and many familiar characters pop up, though it saddened me that former stars like Cleo and Pahn did not get new portrait artwork–or any portrait artwork, for that matter. The birds remain as skittish as ever.

From this point forward, you can add McDohl to your team for turn-based battling purposes. But only him; sorry Gremio, you drew the short straw once again. And you should add him. His unite attack with Suikoden II‘s main hero is impressively deadly, able to hit all enemies in one go, not causing either to become unbalanced either. It’s essential for survival in some of the tougher parts where monsters roam. But here’s the rub–if McDohl is removed from your party, you have to travel all the way back to Gregminster to ask him to rejoin you. It’s not a simple fast travel hop with the Blinking Mirror; first you travel to Banner Village, then have to go through the forest, then get to Gregminster, then back to through the forest, Banner Village, take a boat to Radat, and lastly fast travel back to HQ. It’s lengthy and annoying, and the game automatically removes party members at various points during the plot, so you can’t rely on McDohl being there all the time, when you need him most.

Still, it’s a special slice of the game, one to pursue when not waging war and very rewarding for those that put in the time and effort to get the best results in the original Suikoden. Since Suikoden III is on the PlayStation 2, and memory cards only work for their respective consoles, I don’t think any data or secrets from Suikoden II will carry over, but we’ll see. Imagine if they eventually make Suikoden VI (unlikely, I know) and you can have a six-character team made up entirely of the series’ heroes? Imagine that!

The end has arrived for Suikoden’s cruel Imperial regime

suikoden final throughts maxresdefault

Well, I did it. I beat Suikodenagain. I suspect this is probably my third time through as I most likely beat the game back around when my neighbor helped buy it for me from Kay Bee Toys in 1996, stumbling through it blind as Morgan, the eyeless slave swordsman from Falena, and only recruiting two-thirds of the 108 Stars of Destiny. Then a copy of PSM hit my parents’ mailbox, hinting that a certain character called Gremio could be revived before the end fight if you gathered everybody possible first. Well, I just had to try again, and so I did, successful in my endeavors, but never really returning to the troubled political strugglings of the Scarlet Moon Empire since then.

I decided to go back to Suikoden–and hopefully Suikoden II soonish–for a variety of reasons, one of which I’m still not ready to talk about. However, back when I played these games, I was not a writer. Or even an aspiring writer. I was just a goofy kid that listened to way too much ska music and rode his bike around the neighborhood after dark and liked games that seemed to last forever, mostly JRPG juggernauts, like Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Cross. Nowadays, a lot of what I play sits in my brain, swirling this way and that until I put it down here on Grinding Down, really thinking about mechanics and pacing and how effective or non-effective a transition was, etc. I often make the claim that Suikoden and its much more loved sequel are my favorite games, but I always worried that nostalgia played a big part behind that, and so it is healthy and informative to replay your old favorites every now and then, that way you can truly see if they stand the test of time.

Overall, I’d say that Suikoden is still an immensely enjoyable JRPG, if a little kooky and surprisingly easy. The first hour is very slow in terms of action and challenge, though once you get your castle headquarters and can begin traipsing from town to town looking for recruits, the pace picks up tremendously. Almost too fast. My save slot just before the end battle with Emperor Barbarossa is a nick over twenty-two hours, but please remember that at least two of those hours were spent simply grinding for a nameless urn. Once you get the castle, you kind of go from one big story event to another, with no push to take things slow and go do your own thing for a bit. I mean, you totally can, and I did, but many might not realize the importance of growing your army and just charge through every story beat. All you have to do is keep returning to Mathiu and he’ll always have some plan in the works.

Suikoden might be one of the easiest JRPGs out there. There is no difficulty setting, so it is what it is, and you can, more or less, simply press attack on every character in battle without seeing much resistance from the enemy. In truth, you don’t have many options during the turn-based combat: attack, rune (magic spells), and, depending on who is in your six-member party, unite. There are not as many unite attacks as I originally thought, and many force you to use some less than ideal characters to pull them off–no thanks, every blacksmith ever. Eventually, I ended up using “free will” a lot, especially when grinding, and there were only a few moments when things would go really poorly. So long as you are on top of healing, boss fights are straightforward. I can say that I only saw one “game over” screen, and that was during the second fight with Neclord up in his castle, and it was my fault for not having enough “heal all” spells or mega medicines. Not even Emperor Barbarossa in his true three-headed dragon form proved troublesome.

Recruiting men and women for the Liberation Army barely requires any extra legwork, not counting the two you need to grind for an item for. Most will immediately join up after you speak to them once. A few ask you to be a certain level or, such as in the case of Rubi and Kirkis, another character to be higher up before they’ll throw their bag in the fight. Occasionally, you need to bring a specific character with you to convince someone else to join. I’m looking forward to seeing if the requirements in Suikoden II are a bit more trickier. Gathering recruits is twofold: one, it is fun watching them move into the castle and claim a space for themselves, and two, it ups your army count during the larger-scaled battles, so it does have an effect on gameplay.

I ended up using the following characters as my main mission-goers: Cleo, Victor, Pahn, Valeria, Kirkis, Flik, Stallion, and Ronnie Bell, exchanging them when the situation dictated so. While there are 108 Stars of Destiny to recruit, not all of them are able to fight in the turn-based battles. Like pointless, nose-upturned Onil. Not many of the characters end up playing differently from others despite visible stat differences. They all have different weapons, but you can attach any rune you want to them, turning that martial artist into a healer or that pacifist farmer a wielder of fire spells. I made a mild attempt at trying a few peeps out that I normally ignored, but still found that they lacked personality, especially when you consider that Cleo and Victor are involved in story moments and others, like Lotte and Lester, just aren’t.

All right, here are a couple of other small Suikoden points I’d like to comment on. Just like as in Chrono Cross, you can collect new window frames, but all of them are disgusting and hard to actually look at, though I did end up at least changing the color of the transparency part of the text box to a light brown. The music, when not sampling elephant noises and strange banjo-plucking tunes for mini-games, is memorable and moving, especially that one scene at night when Odessa and Tir McDohl are having a little heart-to-heart moment. Here, have a listen. I ended up spending all my bits on sharpening weapons, rarely purchasing armor or items; you gain so many as you scour dungeons anyways, and the armor is not reflected on the character sprites, so whatever.

So yeah, Suikoden. Still a charming, enjoyable adventure of a boy who unknowingly takes up the call to fight back against an evil empire with the help of an assortment of characters of all different relationships, colors, and races. I wonder what George Lucas thinks of it. It’s perhaps a bit too easy of a game from beginning to end, making things like Costume Quest seem like a hardcore gamer’s nightmare, and the story is not as epic or deep as I remember–or grammatically correct–but it plants all the right seeds for the series to grow from, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Suikoden II plays in 2014. All I remember from it is the cooking mini-game.