Getting a castle in both Suikoden and Suikoden II remains some of my favorite gaming moments ever. No, really. There is so much to see in each castle, and, even if it is a bit empty at first, the possibility of filling it up with 108 Stars of Destiny is so exciting, especially once you begin to remember some of the people you saw earlier that could join up with you now. However, getting a castle under your wings in Suikoden III has been a serious letdown, and not just because it took me some 27 hours–many of which were spent grinding out levels–to finally see it.
I’m currently in chapter two of Chris Lightfellow’s campaign and, at the beginning of the chapter, before heading back to Brass Castle, you can explore the surrounding area a bit. This is where Chris sort of stumbles into Budehuc Castle on the world map, which, as far as I can tell, is where your army will call home in Suikoden III. How do I know this? Well, upon visiting it, you can instantly begin recruiting 108 Stars of Destiny; however, in Suikoden and Suikoden II, you often had to clear the castle out of monsters before establishing it as your base. Here, it’s like you just walked into an open house showing and said, “I’ll take it.” No big battle, no hard-earned castle. It was a bit of a shock, to be honest, and exploring the thing with no map is a bit confusing, but I’m sure I’ll learn its layout soon enough.
Here’s some history about Budehuc Castle, in case you were curious. Basically, it’s an old, dilapidated castle that sits on the borders of Zexen and the Grasslands. It was an important meeting place for Zexen and the Grasslands back when they used to be on more friendly terms. Since then, it has become a traditional custom for rich nobles to send their second-born sons to become masters there, such as Thomas, who was appointed as the new castle master by his father, Councilor Lowma. However, Thomas discovers that the castle has fallen on hard times and is in danger of becoming obsolete. To keep it from going bankrupt, Thomas leases out parts of the castle’s land to merchants and eventually encounters Hugo, Chris, and Geddoe, who fill up the castle with Stars of Destiny.
Funnily enough, the first person I recruited as part of the 108 Stars of Destiny was…Jeane. For those that don’t know her, she’s been in every single entry in the Suikoden series, despite them taking place centuries apart. Guess she’s just immortal, but that could make sense since she often has the job of selling and attaching magical runes to your party members. She also wields a Charm rune herself, so you never know what is ultimately going on. Either way, the three main protagonists still haven’t truly connected with each other to join up against a larger evil, so I find it odd that all three of them can send new recruits home to Budehuc Castle despite not even talking this process through with each other.
Whatever. Clearly, Suikoden III is a different beast than the previous two games, what with it going all 3D with the graphics and switching up how combat works; I was just hoping for a bit of familiarity here, and it sounds like I won’t truly get it, with the castle only upgrading itself once you get more shops and shopkeepers to stay there. At this point, I’d rather call one of the larger towns, such as Vinay del Zexay or Caleria, home. Just give me a small inn to update, that’s more than fine.