Tag Archives: Suikoden II

#GameStruck4 – The Four Games That Define Me

I’m a sucker for memes, especially videogame ones, but alas, this #GameStruck4 one seems to be mega popular only on Twitter, a platform I’m not really active on anymore. So I’m doing it here instead and using it as an excuse to write about four very important games in my upbringing. As if I haven’t already touched upon these masterpieces in the past. Oh, and these are all from my SNES and PlayStation 1 days, which is really where gaming got its hooks into me–sorry, GameBoy–and I’m sure I could come up with four for every console generation I’ve gotten to experience up to this very day and date, but these are the ones that certainly shaped me early on.

Suikoden II

Ah, my sweet, sweet Suikoden II. You were everything I liked about the first Suikoden and then some, showing me that characters, that tiny bits of sprites and colors and text boxes, were just as believable and real and full of feelings as 3D polygonal dudes and dudettes. And Suikoden II has so many great characters. Here, let me name a few: Jowy, Nanami, Viktor, Flik, Bolgan, Luc, Clive, Luca Blight, and so on.

I replayed the game back in 2014 and wrote a bunch of thoughts along the way, many that I don’t need to rehash here. It’s a game that continues to live on inside me, and I often find myself comparing a lot of things to it. Or comparing it to everything. Either take works. Like, if a game lets you recruit party members, that’s cool and all, but six pales in comparison to 108 Stars of Destiny. No cooking minigame will ever beat Suikoden II‘s cooking minigame, and watching your castle grow and expand as your army increases makes going out and finding these new recruits worth it.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is probably the first game to ever make me cry. Not out of joy or love or the beauty of its colorful pixels, but frustration. I was young and struggled to beat a boss, and it affected me greatly. I remember physically tossing my SNES controller, something I’ve never done again. I’ve since grown from this time and now have backpacks full of patience, but this game, if anything, taught me to take things slow, to examine and prepare, to live in these environments and not rush to the next screen just for some shiny object or plot point. There’s a good number of secrets to discover in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and playing around with teleporting between the Light World and Dark World is one of my favorite time-killers, especially if it resulted in an extra Heart Piece or path to a new area.

Super Metroid

Super Metroid oozes atmosphere without saying a whole lot directly. You really have to pay attention to the environment to rise above it and defeat all the Space Pirate bosses. The two most long-lasting memories for me for Super Metroid, a game I’ve most definitely replayed a bunch and claim (back in 2011) has the most epic scene ever, are when you first get to the powerless and ghost-infested Wrecked Ship on Zebes and learning how to wall-jump from the blue, monkey-like Etecoons.

For the former, the eerie stillness of the area is immediately unnerving, and your constants, such as upgrading the map and restoring health and missiles via the respective stations, no longer work until you switch the power back on. There’s a ton of implied storytelling here, like piecing together that the ghosts are actually the deceased crew. For the latter, you need to watch the critters work their magic leaping wall to wall and then replicate it; otherwise, you aren’t going anywhere. It’s not easy, but when you successfully climb that tall column and hit the top, getting higher than the Etecoons, it feels beyond amazing. It’s also neat to know that you can do this move at any point in the game, from the very start. You just don’t know about it until until you run into them later.

Metal Gear Solid

I’m bummed to no longer have a physical copy of this game unlike the three listed above, especially when you consider how essential the retail box is to a specific part in the story. Still, when I bought the Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection 1987 – 2012 for the PlayStation 3, it came with digital download codes for Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Sold: VR Missions. Both of which I played through relatively recently when I was on a sojourn to see this series through from start to finish; my progress came to a complete and grinding halt during Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which I did not find all that interesting or captivating, and I should probably just skip it entirely and move on to Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

Anyways, Metal Gear Solid taught me that games can be larger than life, that they can take their time telling whatever story they want, no matter how inane or far-fetched or action-cool it was. That your surroundings and actions matter, that you can go about a mission in multiple ways, whether it be by sneaking past unaware soldiers, sniping them from far back, or a mixture of both plans. It was certainly the first stealth game I ever played, which planted a pacifism seed in me that, to this day, no matter the game, has me always trying to accomplish tasks nonviolently, with as few casualties as possible.

What are the four games that define you? Tell me about ’em below in the comments or link to your very own hot take on the #GameStruck4 meme.

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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.

Turns out, with videogames, you can go home again

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I’m not one hundred percent sure who the “they” is, but they often say you can’t go home again. It’s a phrase I think about a lot, with plans to eventually draw a short little comic involving children, forest monsters, and cranky parents about the notion. At 31, with my life going through unexpectedly grand changes and my head occasionally thinking the worst of worst thoughts (a taste), all I truly desire is to go home. For comfort, for repose. My home now, meaning the one where I eat and sleep and sigh and take pictures of my cats, is characteristically cold and full of empty rooms. No, the home I’m talking about is the one I grew up in, the red-bricked, two-story structure that sat square in the middle of a T-cross section in a small, neighborly town. From my bedroom window there, I saw all kinds of traffic: vehicle, foot, animal, love.

The idea of returning somewhere can be both physical and mental. I physically want to go back into that house and sit on my childhood bedroom’s floor, my back against the wall just under the windowsill, the same way I’d sit for hours either on the phone with my high school girlfriend or killing time by playing the guitar and scribbling down mopey song lyrics. This is something my body is calling out for, a hunger pain. I also mentally want that time back, that feeling of safeness and irresponsibility, even if I rarely acted on it, and those voices, the sounds from below. It can’t really be replicated, at least not when it is constructed entirely around emotions and personal experiences, but going back, if I’m to believe A Separate Peace, can be healing.

Turns out, videogames occasionally make a good effort at bringing the player back “home.” I was recently taken aback by this, and the feeling it gave has been stuck in me, just under my skin, for a couple months now, itching to be scratched. I thought I’d write a bit about it, as well as some other games that have attempted to bring things full circle over the years.

Let it be said, and let it be said in red lettering, there be major spoilers ahead for the majority of the listed games. Read at your own risk.

Assassin’s Creed II

Let’s start with the game that gave me this blog post topic to begin with. Again, I’m coming to Assassin’s Creed II late, having only played the bread parts to this meat sandwich of stabbiness. Anyways, after completing some assassination missions and then training in a current day warehouse with Lucy, something goes wonky, and you find yourself back in Acre, the setting for the first game in Ubisoft’s now long-winded series. Not only have you returned to where it all started, you also are in control of Altair, not Ezio. Your mission is to follow a figure running away from you, and that includes climbing up a tall tower and seeing the city for all it is.

I had a moment of hesitation, believing this to be a dream sequence, the sort that you watch unfold, but take no part in. Eventually, I strode ahead, and it was business as usual, but tingling surfaced as I jogged past people from another game, another time period. I wouldn’t say I recognized anyone or any building in particular, but the feeling remained nonetheless–I’ve been here before. Strangely, if I had popped in the game disc for Assassin’s Creed, I might not have felt the same way, and I guess that says something about sleight of hand, of transportation.

Borderlands 2

The ramshackle town of Fyrestone in the original Borderlands is where it all started for your choice of vault hunter. You return there in Borderlands 2 to find it a changed place. Handsome Jack, everyone’s favorite man to hate, has turned Fyrestone into a slag-soaked junkyard since Hyperion moved into the area. At his orders, the town was renamed to Jackville and preserved to mock the original Vault Hunters, although robots were also sent in to kill any remaining inhabitants. The layout remains very much the same, but it’s darker, drearier, and, most importantly, more dangerous.

You don’t approach Fyrestone the same way you did in the first game, only realizing where you are once you are in the main area where you used to shop for shields and new guns and turn in missions on the job board. It certainly took me by surprise, but I didn’t have much time to stand around in awe as angry robots began to occupy my attention.

Suikoden II

Oops, I already wrote about this moment.

BioShock Infinite

It’s a short, but powerful moment. At the very end of BioShock Infinite, Booker finds himself in Rapture, the underwater utopia-gone-to-Hell from the original game in the series. Having recently replayed the game over the Christmas holidays, the moment did not feel as impactful as it first did, but when you don’t know it’s coming, it packs a doozy. There’s not much to explore or see while in Rapture a second time–it is, after all, just another doorway, and the game is over at this point, so no more combat to be had–but after spending a solid number of hours in the clouds, knowing you are deep underwater, in an oh-so-similar world once more is a thrill.

Chrono Cross

Okay. I’m stretching it here with Chrono Cross, considering it all happens within the same game, but visiting the same location in different, alternate timelines still does give off a nostalgic tingle. Like, it’s both the same and changed, a feeling of being out of place somewhere deeply familiar. There’s Home World, and there’s Another World. I love it. Plus, just before you go off to fight the Time Devourer, you do stumble across the Ghost Children, which are the ghosts of Crono, Marle, and Lucca from Chrono Trigger, so it’s a blast from the past, though a bit somber.

Got any other examples of returning to locations from previous games? If so, shout ’em out in the comments below. These were all I could think of and have actually experienced thus far, but there’s gotta be more. I can’t be the only one that wants to go home again.

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

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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!!!”

Dragon Age: Inquisition is concerned with the fate of the world, not text size

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Like many, the millisecond I saw that one of Amazon’s major Cyber Monday bargains was for $15.00 off the very still new Dragon Age: Inquisition, I dropped whatever I was holding/doing and purchased a copy…for the PlayStation 3. It arrived a few days later and sat on my kitchen table, waiting patiently for me to finish up some artwork projects, as well as Suikoden II. Here’s a quick life lesson for y’all that I’ve learned over my thirty-one years of doing this grind called living: don’t start one massive RPG before completing another.

Anyways, over the weekend, I put about an hour and a half into Dragon Age: Inquisition, and all I got to show for it is this t-shirt that says “Leave the Hinterlands” in big, bold, bloody lettering. Nah, that’s not true. What I actually got is a female dwarven warrior named Girgna, who likes to charge right into the thick of things and even taunt enemies as she swings a sword into their necks. This style of fighting is very much the opposite of my usual path, but my friend Tom is also playing the game, walking the good, wholesome path of a nice wizard lady named Dandelion, and I wanted us to have different experiences to talk about.

Dragon Age: Inquisition evidently picks up immediately the events of Dragon Age II, where mages and Templars are finally at ends with each other. However, there are talks of a peace treaty in the works, but those deals and promises are interrupted by a magical explosion, leaving a single survivor. Yup, that’s you, the one with the green-colored hand. Some believe you caused this explosion, while others think you’re a blessing from the prophet Andraste. Either way, demons are now emerging from the rift in the sky, and you are the only one who can do anything about it. Get ready to age a dragon or something.

So far, I’m finding my return to Ferelden…a bit underwhelming. Granted, I’ve not touched the series seriously since Dragon Age: Origins, deciding after trying the demo and listening to the Internet that Dragon Age II was not for me. Now, I really really liked Dragon Age: Origins; it had characters and scope and deeply integrated lore and tough, but rewarding combat. It also had some problems, such as tiny text, glitched Achievements because I know I killed at least 500 darkspawn (though not 1,000), clunky inventory menus, and that whole side quest surrounding the Fade. Still, the good outweighed the bad, and that banter while wandering around towns or the forest really gave me the warmest of warm feelings.

However, in just an hour and a half with Dragon Age: Inquisition, I’m experiencing a ton of issues. The graphics on the PlayStation 3 version are sub-par; I mean, it looks like the first game, which came out four years ago, and I know we can have nicer visuals at this point thanks to Grand Theft Auto V and even Destiny. Many textures are garbled and flat or late to load in when a cutscene starts. Again, graphics are certainly not everything to me, but working graphics is a whole different issue. Audio sync is also off, and there was one moment where characters left the scene, but the camera remained fixed on the forest for a few extra seconds, while nothing happened. And this all brings me to the thorniest of roadblocks: the tiny text. I cannot sit on the couch and read most of the text, which is, y’know, frustrating for a roleplaying game where you make important decisions. I cannot read weapon descriptions or newly added lore blurbs. I cannot see the numbers for my character’s experience bar. Sounds like it doesn’t matter if you have an SD or HD television either, and I’m not the only one upset about this.

I’ll hold out hope (but not much) for a future patch to increase the font size. Until then, I’m relying on other elements to tell me what’s going on. When you examine an item, you’ll see some bars below your character go up in green or down in red, thus telling you if it is helpful or not. That said, I don’t know exactly what each bar is measuring. Some dialogue choices are accompanied by a small graphic, indicating what kind of response you are about to give, even if you can’t read it. Girgna has now finished the prologue section and been told about the Hinterlands, but I’m still hanging around the opening area, trying to find some crafting items to make weapons and armor before I move ahead to the zone everyone says to not linger in. Plus, there’s plenty of hairless nugs running around, begging to be target practice.

Not the best start for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Call me crazy, but I like reading the text in my videogames, even if it is badly translated.

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.

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!