Tag Archives: Konami

Finally seeing Suikoden III from some different perspectives

Ugh, I’m not doing too well on those gaming resolutions for 2017 that I listed out at the beginning of the new year. Well, hold up, I did manage to cross the 80,000 Gamerscore mark, but other than that, my Steam backlog is either the same size as before or larger than ever, Earthbound is still untouched on my Wii U, and I don’t know what I was thinking when it came to musing about “creating something.” I mean, I’m already doing that with my art over at Death, Divorce, and Disney, slow as it may take, though perhaps one day I’ll do something with game design. I sure do have a bunch of ideas, but not the knowledge to put them into motion, and knowledge doesn’t come quick or easy.

Anyways, here is me equipping a mighty ice-pick of endurance+3 and chipping away at the legendary glacier boss that is Suikoden III. I played it for a couple of hours several years ago, eventually running into an issue with the game soft-locking on a loading screen due to scratches on my PlayStation 2 disc. That sucks, but I quickly moved past it and found a bazillion other games to occupy my time, including the original two games in the series. I then acquired a digital version for the PlayStation 3 about two years ago, easing my heart and mind somewhat with the knowledge that I could return to Konami’s third entry in the RPG series via a scratch-free experience. Still, it remained neglected once more…until now-ish. Dun dun dunnn.

This time around, I’ve decided to start Suikoden III from a new perspective, selecting someone different from my first go at the game. See, Suikoden III uses something called the Trinity Site System to tell its tale through three different POVs–namely, Hugo, the son of the Karaya Clan Chief Lucia, Chris Lightfellow, a Zexen Knight, and Geddoe, a mercenary from the Holy Kingdom of Harmonia. Phew, that was a mouthful. Last time, I went with Hugo, and this time I started the adventure off with Chris Lightfellow, who, by name alone, you might mistake as a man, but she’s actually the acting captain of the Zexen Knights, as well as the Tenbi Star, just like Kirkis was in the original game. Cool, cool. Basically, you get to play snippets from each of these characters’ storylines, with some overlapping others, and I suspect they will eventually meet up and form a single through-line to follow to the end. We’ll see.

It’s still a little early for me to say this, but I’m not a fan of the changes Konami made to combat in Suikoden III. Don’t worry, don’t worry, everything is still turn-based, but characters are now paired up during fights. This means you give a command to each pair rather than to them as individuals, which often makes the combat feel clunky and not highly strategic. For example, one person gets a specific action, such as casting a spell or using an item, while the other is forced into attacking by default. It’s not Miitopia random, but you are definitely not 100% in control of what everyone gets to do, and that’s a bummer. Also, I’ve put in about six to seven hours so far, seeing chapters from all three characters–Chris, Geddoe, and Hugo–and I’ve seen only one or two unite attack options during battle, which this JRPG series is famous for. Also, because we’re jumping around a lot, I’ve been reluctant to drop a lot of money on new armor and weapons or training because I don’t yet know who is going to be around for the bulk of Suikoden III, which is mildly frustrating.

So, clearly, it’s been slow going, but it has been refreshing to see some new characters and areas this second time starting Suikoden III. Also, evidently during my first time with Hugo I had missed an entire side quest involving bandits and Melville’s father, so that was great to see, content-wise, even if it did little to change what happened in his first chapter. I’m now playing as Geddoe and his Twelfth Unit from Harmonia as they embark from Vinay del Zexay…to do something. Not quite sure what their goal is yet. I’m eager to see a few more towns as Vinay del Zexay is not fun to explore and somewhat confusing and does not hold a candle to Gregminster, Greenhill City, or even Gordius. Then again, these games are all about building up a base. Speaking of that…

From the brief bit of research I’ve done, it sounds like once all three starting characters hit chapter three, I’ll have to make a major decision, one that will definitely affect how the story moves forward. It also sounds like, after Suikoden V, Suikoden III takes the longest for everyone to get inside a castle and start building up your army, which is one of the best parts of this series, and that’s a bummer because I want to go to there right now. Ugh. Here’s hoping I hit that milestone somewhere in 2018, the earlier the better. Because then I eventually need to try out Suikoden IV. And Suikoden Tactics. Oh, and I should probably re-play Suikoden V at some point because that is mostly a blur to me now.

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My E3 2017 wishlist because a boy can dream

It’s one of the best times of the year, with E3 kicking off this weekend, followed in a month by Awesome Games Done Quick. In short, time to watch a lot of livestreams. Either way, I’m always excited to hear about new developments in the industry, even if I ultimately never procure many of the new machines or play a majority of the big name games to come. It’s fun being in the know, and I love the nightly interview segments with a mix of industry peeps over at Giant Bomb. Still, I do have some desires for this year’s event, and they are as follows:

Borderlands 3

Look, it’s time. It’s beyond time. No one really got into Battleborn, so Gearbox needs to accept this and move on to the thing that retains a strong fanbase to this day–the Borderlands series. Specifically, the one where you collect a million guns and shoot them at cel-shaded enemies, not the one where you talk your way out of a bad situation into a worse scenario. I’ve been dipping my toes back into Borderlands 2 over the last few months, but a service built solely for these new consoles would be extra great, and I’d love to see something along the lines of Hitman contracts with new raid-like bosses to attack every few weeks instead of a lackluster DLC package.

Death Stranding

We already know this game exists, but I want more info on it. Especially since Mel and I have been working our way through Hannibal and I’m finding Mads Mikkelsen to be highly watchable as an unpredictable villain. I’m still curious if it’ll play like Metal Gear Solid 4 or be a completely different thing. I suspect Hideo Kojima really likes stealth action, so it’s a good bet, but he himself can be unpredictable. I don’t expect the narrative to be clear until the game is out and played through multiple times; I just want to know what the running around is like. Either way, tell us more.

The Elder Scrolls VI: Valenwood

Fallout 4 did not take hold of me and never let go. Instead, I played it, enjoyed a decent chunk of it, beat it, murdering a lot of people to my dismay, and have not really gone back to the thing. I’ve thought often about returning to Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but that would require booting it up on my Xbox 360, and I don’t want to do that. I’d rather wait for the next installment. Which, maybe, might be set in Valenwood. I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine, but Bethesda is hosting its own press conference again this year, so maybe we’ll get some updates about what is next from their blockbuster high fantasy RPG time-eater. There’s probably going to be a Doom sequel too for those believing that lightning can strike twice in the same spot.

LEGO james bond

Rest in peace, Roger Moore, my favorite 007, but maybe we can bring you back to life in LEGO form. There are still plenty of LEGO games I haven’t gotten to play yet, but if this thing became a reality it would move right up to the top of my priority list. Traveler’s Tales could either do like they did with LEGO Harry Potter and split this across multiple games, or, if they loved us even just the littlest bit, put out a super compilation of Bond’s best and coolest movies for us to play through. These have everything a LEGO wants: colorful cast of characters, cool gadgets and gizmos, enhanced vehicles, and globe-trotting adventures.

Picontier

I don’t remember when this “slow living miniscape RPG” was announced, but it was some time back. Immediately, it reminded me of Stardew Valley and Rune Factory, which is great, and it was destined for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s also now coming out for the Nintendo Switch. When that is, I do not know, but I love the retro look, and having this kind of experience on the go is really appealing to me. Hopefully we’ll get some more concrete coverage during Nintendo’s streaming hours. Or it’ll just be a tiny tidbit hidden in some press release that goes out after their Nintendo Direct vid.

Suikoden VI

This is never going to happen. I know that, you know that, Konami knows that. But still, a boy can dream. Is it too much to ask for a game with an empty castle that one can fill up with people they meet along their way to stop an evil thing from becoming the ultimate evil thing? No, Dragon Age: Inquisition–you do not do the job well enough.

Right, right. What games are you looking forward to hearing more about at this year’s E3? Speak up and share your wishlist in the comments section. Be sure to include Suikoden VI and get it trending on social media.

Running the mercenary unit Militaires Sans Frontières like a Big Boss

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I’m not sure where I first heard this–or if it is even true–but Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was originally supposed to be the real Metal Gear Solid V. And Hideo Kojima’s last game. I’m glad neither of those came to be, and while I don’t know too much about The Phantom Pain–I’ve avoided listening to countless podcasts over the last month or so, as well as skipped any and all coverage at Giant Bomb to remain as spoiler-free as possible–I do know that the newest game involves taking on individual missions to recruit members to your main base and grow its power and potential. Well, Peace Walker does that too, but on a much smaller scale.

Set in 1974 in Costa Rica, Peace Walker follows the exploits of returning protagonist Big Boss–you might remember him as Naked Snake from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater–as he runs the mercenary unit Militaires Sans Frontières (Soldiers Without Borders). A mysterious group called the Peace Sentinels have been deployed in-country. Unfortunately, the Costa Rica government cannot do anything about them because the country’s constitution does not allow the creation of armed forces. The presence of the Peace Sentinels threatens to endanger the balance of power between the East and West, forcing Snake to intervene. Plus, he wants to build up his Mother Base.

Peace Walker is broken up into two primary modes: “Mission” and “Mother Base.” Missions are the traditional action/sneaking scenarios of the previous games, with Snake creeping through a jungle or occupied building to either kill a certain someone, rescue somebody or somebodies, or gather some intel. It’s the expected mix of sneaking, fighting, and watching. Mother Base is a crew managing simulation where you assign people to different work areas to strengthen your soldiers, upgrade your items and weapons, or keep everybody healthy, happy, and fed.

For missions, you can play either as Snake or a male or female MSF soldier, though some missions will only be available for one or the other. Your score is penalized with a lower rank and reduced heroism for the excessive murdering of soldiers or frequently being discovered, which works fine for me as I’m all about stealth pistols, stun grenades, and using the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system to send knocked-out enemies to Mother Base to switch sides. Also, using items and weapons results in leveling them up at the end of a successful mission, which means Snake is only going to get better and better at making grown men fall asleep where they stand. Peace Walker is designed for co-op play, but I’ve been doing fine so far going at it solo.

In terms of story, so far, Peace Walker is fairly traditional. Shocking, right? I mean, I’m fighting straight up tanks for boss battles at the moment, not psychics that can read my memory card save data. That said, I expect this to go from sane to insane in a short span of time, and I’m really digging the comic book style to the cutscenes, drawn by Ashley Wood, especially when they are interactive. Peace Walker was originally a PSP game, and it shows, but boy is its style on fleek. On the fleck? I don’t know how the kids talk these days.

Not all is amazing though. Camouflage, while still being there and a collectible factor in terms of different outfits for Naked Snake, seems to be completely inessential. You also cannot crawl, and I will never remember this as it is my go to when almost being spotted–to drop to the ground as swiftly as possible and lay prone. I’m not sure going forward what the bosses are like, but I’ve only taken on a tank currently and am looking to more supernatural elements to intervene. Lastly, the whole Mother Base simulation side can be extremely daunting at first, to the point that I simply relied on auto-assignment to place captured soldiers; thankfully, Mother Base opens slowly, which means it is not overwhelming immediately.

It certainly seems like there’s a lot of missions–both main story-wise and side objectives–to go for Peace Walker, so I’ve got some time still before I can load up Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and see how the newest franchise plays. Surely Naked Snake will be able to crawl on his stomach. Surely.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is not about changing the world

gd mgs4 gotp final thoughts and impressions

My goal for the Metal Gear Solid series of videogames has generally been pretty clear: play them all in the order they were released and stay ahead of Dan and Drew over at Giant Bomb, especially once they got to the Big Bosses in the series that I’ve not touched at all, that way I can enjoy all of Hideo Kojima’s mind-wank first for myself and then witness those goofballs grenade-toss and gun their way through all the meticulously heavy sneaking parts. I know I can be a slow gamer at times, but figured I wouldn’t have any problems with this.

Unfortunately, it did not work out. I started playing Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots right before I left for a Disney World vacation in July, mostly inspired to play because I saw that those Giant Bomb duders were readying themselves for more nanomachine-driven madness. I figured there might have been a longer break between this and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, but nope, I was wrong. So I played a little, and by the time I got back, they were nearly done with the game. Other things were happening in my life, and I just figured I’d wait the whole thing out for a bit. Then Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain dropped, and it’s all everyone is chatting about, and I desperately want to play it, but still have a few more games to get through first. This is what basically lead to me sitting down over two nights and pounding MGS4 into dust, which, when you realize it is more or less a visual novel, isn’t terribly challenging.

I think I covered the story stuff in my last post on MGS4, or what little story stuff I felt like spilling. It goes places, but mostly to the past. In a lot of ways, this felt like Metal Gear Solid: Callback Edition, what with you pounding X in every cutscene to get flashbacks and every character coming out of the woodwork to at least participate in some manner. Drebin’s long-winded stories of tragedy and woe about all four B&B Corps members really killed the game’s pace, and a lot of characters continued to speak in grandiose cliches, to the point that I felt like Old Snake all the time, constantly repeating back what people said, but as a question. GW? Microwaves? Suicide mission? Truthfully, I’ve never been able to 100% follow along with Kojima’s plot across all the Metal Gears, but this is the one where they tried to hit some nails into coffins and close a lot of loops, and even then I didn’t understand the bulk of it.

In terms of difficulty, I only hit a few snags, and if you’d rather not read about specific encounters–skip to the next paragraph. Now. Okay, here we go. The first big hiccup appeared while trying to track Naomi’s footprints in South America; I knew what the game wanted me to do, and I did it, really, and still, it took forever to find the cave she went into. The next problem arose in the boss fight against Vamp back at Shadow Moses, where you are supposed to remember you have a nanomachine-specific item in your inventory, given to you several acts back, and that’s the only way to defeat him. I used the Codec a bunch, but still Otacon never clued me in on this; I had to resort to the Internet’s guidance. Lastly, the final level has you landing on a massive battleship and trying to make it all the way down to the other side, where there’s a door. The ship is crawling with enemies, and after multiple attempts to shoot my way through–first with tranquilizer bullets and stun grenades, then with live ammunition–I resorted to wearing a full suit of OctoCamo and inch-worming my way down the left side, at the slowest pace in the world. Other than that, every else sort of handles itself.

It’s not my favorite Metal Gear, though I still don’t think I’m prepared to pick one. There’s not much to play here, especially early on when you are sided with the rebels and sort of shadowing them as they take out all the baddies and you sneak through without a scratch to your tired, leathery face. Even when you do decide to stand up and fight, the game gives you so many weapons and health items that surviving is fairly reasonable (save for that last section on the boat). Sure, my stats below show 23 continues, but the majority of those are from that final stretch.

Speaking of statistics, as always, Konami provides you a bunch at the end of the credits. Read ’em and weep:

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Seems like this time around you earn different emblems for how you play. I got the title of “Eagle,” which is brought about from accumulating 150 or more headshots. Go me and my headshotting skills. Other wearable emblems require specific ways of playing, such as not getting spotted at all or spending more than an hour inside the cardboard box/drum can. Hmm no thanks. That certainly helps with MGS4‘s replayability, though I have no interest right now in returning to it. Like an eagle, I’ll soar away, high in the sky, the world below zooming out, as if it doesn’t matter.

Up next…Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker! Y’know, that game no one seems to like or feel is part of the series at all, but is most likely important to the early story stuff of Big Boss and necessary to know before moving on to the most current adventure. Oh yeah. Bring on the excitement.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #47 – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

2015 gd games completed mgs 4 guns patriots

Old Snake is dying
Liquid has plans, control guns
Watch cutscenes, hit X

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Jowy and Hodor were both aiming for the same thing in Suikoden II

Suikoden 2 beat game final post GD

Here’s something rather amusing: I was playing Suikoden II as it was announced over the weekend at Sony’s PlayStation Experience event that it was finally, at long last, coming to North America via the PlayStation Network. Take that, outrageously high eBay prices. Instead of dropping over $100, you can now download the epic JRPG for a sliver of that. I’ve read two different reported prices so far: $10.00 and $6.99. Either is a fantastic price for Konami’s sparkly, well-kept gem, one that many might not have gotten to play due to its rareness, as well as it being out-shadowed during its release by Final Fantasy VIII. Yeah, the one with the floating garden school and Junction/Draw system.

That said, after a logged forty-nine hours and change and with my main party of characters all just under level 60, I can safely say that I have played Suikoden II. Again. The last time was definitely back in the 1990s. Hot off the heels of replaying Suikoden, I found my revisit to Suikoden II even more enjoyable, as well as at least seventy-five percent less goofy. This is a game about darkness and dark things, like betrayal, wavering confidence, murder, sacrifice, and rape. Sure, there’s still a good amount of silliness to balance out the grim, but all in all, this is a serious adventure in the same vein as current mega-RPGs like Dragon Age: Inquisition and Diablo III, with conflicting opinions and difficult choices all around.

Here, let me sum up the plot once more. Suikoden II‘s protagonist, who I named Hodor, goes from being a member of a youth brigade in the Highland Kingdom to being the leader of its opposition. Hodor and his best friend Jowy Atreides each end up acquiring one half of the Rune of the Beginning, both destined to become leaders. Luca Blight is heir to the throne of Highland, as well as a bloodthirsty madman who developed a strong hatred for Jowston early on after witnessing his mother’s rape by thugs hired by City-State capital Muse. Hodor will eventually find himself fighting against Luca and his best friend, for safety, for civility.

The six-party, turn-based combat from the first game returns, with visual upgrades for rune spells, but not many mechanical changes. Yup, there are more Unite attacks to use, as well as the ability to switch between rows during a fight, but I found using “auto” attack to work out well enough in most situations save for boss fights. Since the point is to recruit a bunch of different people for the war, the Suikoden series is one of the few–Chrono Cross is another–that really does encourage you to mix things up and try out new team members. You can’t go wrong with who you select so long as you have a good S/M/L range mix, keep them armored, sharpen their weapons, and give them strong runes. My mainstays throughout the campaign were Flik, Viktor, Nanami, Millie, Futch, Georg Prime, and Valeria, with Hodor acting more as a healer than anything else since his speed allowed him to act first in most fights.

Massive battles and duels are thankfully kept to a minimum, which is fine considering they still require a lot of guesswork or well-hardened knowledge of how rock, paper, scissors works. The massive battles are a little different in that you have to move units around for better positioning like in a strategy RPG, but it’s still a matter of attacking horses with bow and arrows and knowing when to charge with soldiers. If you want, Apple can take over your actions on autopilot. For every duel, I ended up using a wiki guide because, more often than not, these pixelated duels take place after a big boss fight, and I didn’t want to lose any progress. It’s just a matter of selecting the correct choice of defend, attack, or wild attack based on what your enemy says.

By Suikoden II‘s close, I did end up recruiting all 108 Stars of Destiny, but not in time to get the “good” ending, though I still like the ending I saw. Many refer to it as the “tragic” ending, but seeing as I myself recently went through a tragic ending this year, it is rather apropos. Plus, it does that thing from A Link to the Past, where you check in with everyone after the war’s over to see what they are up to. Well, not everyone. Sorry, [redacted] and [redacted]. I missed/skipped out on a few other elements, like Clive’s timed side quest, recruiting the additional squirrel warriors, doing every Richmond investigation, unlocking the hidden bath scenes, and so on. There’s so much small, side stuff in Suikoden II that it can feel very overwhelming; most of it has no effect on the plot, but provides cool little moments or bits of backstory to a game already oozing story from every orifice. Still, after nearly fifty hours, I saw plenty.

If you thought the castle headquarters in Suikoden was neat and fulfilling to explore, just wait until you begin seeing it grow in Suikoden II. I mean, you could spend a good hour just running around the place, examining things, talking to people, seeing where they go when the place upgrades. There’s also mini-games to tackle, like fishing, cooking, and even whacking moles, but I might touch upon those more in a separate post. My regiment was that, every time I popped back to HQ, I’d check the suggestion box for new notes, start/complete an investigation with Richmond, make a pitstop at the warehouse, and then run over to the cafe to do the latest cook-off challenge before using Viki to teleport wherever I needed to go to next. There is legitimate excitement in my heart after recruiting a new member for the group and then scouring the castle for where they reside.

Right. Fun times. I’m going to take a wee breather before moving on to (and starting over) Suikoden III, but I think closing out a less-than-stellar year with one of my absolute favorite gaming experiences next to A Link to the Past is a good thing. Very good. Now, in the wise words of Viktor: “Oi!!!!! Let’s end this damn thing!!!”

Suikoden II is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar

Suikoden is a great JRPG with lousy translation work; that said, Suikoden II is an even greater JRPG with lousier translation work. The proof is in the published work. This is the PlayStation 1 era, meaning there’s no way to patch the game and cover up caught mistakes. I did this for Suikoden after I beat it and figured I might as well snap some slanted cell phone shots of poor grammar or translating problems as I went through Suikoden II all over again. I did not expect to take so many photos. Truth be told, I grew lenient as I played, and so the following is not every bit of wonky wordsmithing I saw.

All right, let’s do this my fellow grammar geeks.

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The joke here is that the true Hodor would never say such a thing. Simply “Hodor.”

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Since, y’know, YOU ARE PRISONER.

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I immediately found it strange that, for every shop in Suikoden II, the words “buy” and “sell” are lowercased while everything else is not.

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Maybe Nanami meant an Estate spy?

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You really don’t see many people using the form Its’ these days…

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Um…what?

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At this point, not even the makers of Suikoden II can remember how to spell their main villain’s name.

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Maybe you’re too quick at writing these pre-cook off blurbs.

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Wrong. I know not that name. There is only McDohl. There can be only one.

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“This is home I make my living” sounds like something you’d want to shout angrily. THIS IS HOME, I MAKE MY LIVING!!!1!1!!!

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Remember when they got Luca Blight’s and McDohl’s names wrong? Well, let’s add Jowy to the list.

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YOU ARE EYES.

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Some time after defeating Neclord, things got weird. Any time I ran away from a fight, the game replaced Hodor’s name with one of the enemy’s names. Thus…ZombieSlug.

I’ll probably restart Suikoden III early next year. Here’s hoping the translation work got better once the series hit a new console platform. Here’s hoping.