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|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
|Developer(s)||Konami, Hudson Soft, Rabbit and Bear Studios (Eiyuden Chronicle)|
|Publisher(s)||Konami, Rabbit and Bear Studios (Eiyuden Chronicle)|
December 15, 1995
|Latest release||Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki|
February 9, 2012
|Spin-offs||Eiyuden Chronicle (2022)|
Suikoden (Japanese: 幻想水滸伝, Hepburn: Gensō Suikoden) is a role-playing video game series originally created by Yoshitaka Murayama. The game series is loosely based on the classical Chinese novel Water Margin, whose title is rendered as Suikoden (水滸伝) in Japanese. Each individual game in the series centers on relative themes of politics, corruption, revolution, mystical crystals known as True Runes and the "108 Stars of Destiny"—the 108 protagonists who are loosely interpreted from the source material.
Though the Suikoden games follow an irregular chronological sequence of events, the entire series (except for Tierkreis and Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki) takes place within the same world among continuing and overlapping histories. In some cases, several characters appear in multiple installments.
The Suikoden franchise has been developing games since 1995 and has developed various video game titles bearing the same name. The development team of the Suikoden series started developing games using 2D or two-dimensional graphics primarily used in the first and second games, while they only incorporated 3D graphics on environments and visual effects. Suikoden III however, marked the series' complete shift from 2D to 3D as the game jumps platforms; from PlayStation to PlayStation 2.
The series has the following titles including prequels, sequels and spin-offs from the main series. They are arranged chronologically with their release dates:
|Title||Original release date|
|Suikoden||December 15, 1995||December 1996||April 1997|
|Suikoden II||December 17, 1998||August 31, 1999||July 28, 2000|
|Suikoden III||July 11, 2002||October 24, 2002||June 23, 2015 (PlayStation Network)|
|Suikoden IV||August 19, 2004||January 11, 2005||February 25, 2005|
|Suikoden V||February 23, 2006||March 21, 2006||September 22, 2006|
|Title||Original release date|
|Genso Suikogaiden Vol. 1 – Swordsman of Harmonia||September 21, 2000||none||none|
|Genso Suikogaiden Vol. 2 – Duel at Crystal Valley||March 22, 2001||none||none|
|Gensō Suikoden Card Stories||September 13, 2001||2013 (unofficial)||none|
|Suikoden Tactics||September 22, 2005||November 8, 2005||February 23, 2006|
|Suikoden Tierkreis||December 18, 2008||March 13, 2009||March 19, 2009|
|Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki||February 9, 2012||none||none|
|Title||Original release date|
|Genso Suikoden I & II||February 23, 2006||none||none|
In the Suikoden series, the player takes control of a battle party having a maximum of six people (consisting of the protagonist and 5 other characters), Suikoden IV, however, reduces the party to four fighters and one support. The goal of the game is for the protagonist to defeat the opponents who are trying to oppose his/her team. This becomes possible as every game in the series revolves around the recruitment of the 108 Stars of Destiny; wherein the fighter characters recruited from the bunch can be used as members for the battle party; each game in the series have its respective Stars of Destiny. The series practically makes use of running around towns on different islands and into dungeons filled with monsters or enemies. A base or headquarters will also be obtained by the player which is usually abandoned, monster-infested castles which turns into bustling communities when captured.
The most typical form of battle in the series is the turn-based battle wherein the 6-man team faces the opponents. However, it is not the sole form of battle featured in the games. There are 3 different types of battle present which recurs and have been accustomed to every game. They are: 'Basic Battle', 'One-on-one Duel' and 'Strategic War Battle'.
- Basic Battle: It is the most common form of battle. It is when the protagonist's 6-man team will have to battle out. This mode allows the player to control the 6 party members with different commands such as the 'Fight' where the player designates the action he/she wants the characters to perform, 'Run' to escape, 'Bribe' to use the party's money called Potch to bribe the enemy for escape and the 'Auto' command in which the game automatically designates the 'Attack' command for every character.
- One-on-one Duel: A battle where only a single character fights and happens only in special events. It is a turn-based duel in which the player chooses command to attack (instead of manually controlled fighting). Duels in the series is typically not time-based except Suikoden V wherein choosing a command is timed for 3 seconds. Duels are usually accompanied by dialogue exchange between the player and the enemy, with the dialogue giving clues to what command the enemy will choose next (Essentially rock, paper scissors with the enemy commentary telling the player which they chose).
- Strategic War Battle: A turn-based strategic battle between the protagonist's side and the enemy. In more accurate terms, this is a battle between armies of the protagonist and the enemy. The protagonist's army is made up of many units which could be organized by the player however he/she desires. Every game in the series has different forms of war battles most notably in Suikoden IV, where the battles are done in the sea. Suikoden V however, is the first game to make use of real-time strategy.
The Suikoden series was created, written, produced, and overseen by Yoshitaka Murayama, who left Konami near the end of Suikoden III's development. Noritada Matsukawa took over as Senior Director of Suikoden III following Murayama's departure. Suikoden IV was directed by Matsukawa as well but was produced by Junko Kawano, who was the chief designer in Suikoden I. Suikoden V was directed by Takahiro Sakiyama, a relative newcomer to RPGs.
In an interview conducted by Japanese website 4gamers.net regarding the RPG Frontier Gate, Konami developers revealed that the Suikoden development team has been disbanded with members scattered about teams within Konami and elsewhere. This led to speculation that the franchise had indeed been abandoned following disappointing sales of the latest entries in the series.
Despite these rumours, Konami presented a trailer for a new Suikoden game on Tokyo Game Show 2011: Genso Suikoden: The Woven Web of a Century (Genso Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki). It came out in Japan for PSP on 12 February 2012 to generally lackluster reviews.
In 2020, one of Suikoden's development crew left Konami and named a new studio called Rabbit & Bear, founded by some of the key creative minds behind the classic PlayStation-era roleplaying series, including Yoshitaka Murayama, director and writer on the first two Suikoden games, and the creative team also includes Junko Kawano, the lead artist on Suikoden 1 and 4; Junichi Murakami, art director on Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow; Suikoden Tactics director Osamu Komuta; and composers Motoi Sakuraba and Michiko Naruke. Murayama directed to a Suikoden follow-up game called Eiyuden Chronicle, slated to release worldwide on 2022.
World, setting, and concepts
Essentially, each game follows the plot formula of a coup d'état by corrupt power holder(s) and the protagonist is an exile from his/her home. The plot also follows the disastrous misuse of the "True Runes" while the hero struggles, despite overwhelming odds, to bring peace to the land alongside his/her friends, and the climactic showdown with the corrupted True Rune incarnation.
The 27 True Runes
The 27 True Runes are powerful sources of all magic and primal forces in the world of Suikoden. Wholly sentient and possessing their own will, the True Runes hold immeasurable power, and are the equivalents of gods in the Suikoden world. Many wars have been fought over them in the past, some instigated by the will of the runes themselves. True Runes are often sought by the powerful and influential due to their shared property of granting immortality to those who will bear them. All bearers of True Runes stop aging and become immune to disease and all other natural causes of death, though they can still die from physical trauma such as accidents or murder.
The True Runes often attach themselves to living beings. Doing so gives the True Rune holder great power over the force the rune represents as well as immortality so long as they wield the rune. Wielding the runes can also have negative consequences, as in the case of one wielder being transformed into a vampire. A True Rune has also taken the shape of a sword, as is the case with the Star Dragon Sword. They can also manifest themselves unattached from a host, as the Beast Rune did during the Highland-Jowston conflict, self-activating and then feeding of its own will.
Known True Runes
- Gate Rune (split into the Front Gate Rune and Back Gate Rune; Suikoden I, II, III, IV, V, Front Gate Rune formerly held by Windy, Back Gate Rune held by Leknaat)
- Sovereign Rune (Suikoden, held by Emperor Barbarossa)
- Hachifusa Rune (never featured in a game, held by Yuber, and Yuber's Eight Devil Rune is assumed to be related to it)
- Circle Rune (never featured in a game, held by Harmonia's leader, Hikusaak)
- Rune of Change (never featured in a game, held by the Sindar's leader)
- Moon Rune (Suikoden, II, held by Neclord, and then Sierra Mikain)
- Night Rune (Suikoden, II, and III; its child, the Star Rune, held by Zerase, is present in V) as the Star Dragon Sword (Zodiac Sword), which is wielded by Viktor during Suikoden and II, and Edge in III.
- Beast Rune (Suikoden II, formerly sealed in L'Renouille Palace, location: unknown after Suikoden II)
- Rune of Beginning (split into the Bright Shield Rune and Black Sword Rune; Suikoden II, held by Genkaku and Han, later held by the second Hero and Jowy)
- Rune of Life and Death (Suikoden I, II, and IV, held by Ted, Ted's grandpa, and the first Hero), also known as Soul Eater
- Rune of Punishment (Suikoden IV, held by the Queen of Obel, Graham Cray and his son, Rakgi's father, Steele, Brandeau, Glen Cott, and the fourth Hero)
- Dragon Rune (Suikoden, held by Joshua Levenheit, and later Milia)
- True Fire Rune (Suikoden III, held by the Flame Champion, and either Hugo, Chris Lightfellow, or Geddoe)
- True Water Rune (Suikoden III, held by Wyatt Lightfellow, and later, either Chris Lightfellow or Hugo)
- True Earth Rune (Suikoden III; present in Suikoden II, held by Sasarai)
- True Wind Rune (Suikoden III; present in Suikoden and II, formerly held by Luc)
- True Lightning Rune (Suikoden III, held by Geddoe or Hugo)
- Sun Rune (Suikoden V; its children, the Twilight Rune and Dawn Rune, are also prominent; Sun Rune formerly held by Queen Arshtat Falenas, Dawn Rune held by the Prince, Twilight Rune held by Alenia, Sialeeds, and Lyon)
The 108 Stars of Destiny
A concept borrowed from the Chinese novel Shui Hu Zhuan, each Suikoden game has featured 108 characters who band together to ward off a threat. In each main Suikoden game (excluding the Suikogaiden games and Suikoden Tactics), there are 108 notable characters, all of which are recruitable except for in Suikoden III, where several of the stars of destiny were the antagonist characters. While recruiting all of the Stars of Destiny is not a requirement to finishing the game, recruiting all of them gives certain bonuses that affect the story of the game.
The Suikoden series is set in a world with many countries. The political geography has changed over the series chronology; while the most recent game in the setting is Suikoden V, chronologically, Suikoden IV is the earliest game while Suikoden III occurs latest within the time span of the series.
Suikoden, Suikoden II and Suikoden III are set on the Northern Continent, a land mass composed of several regions. Suikoden takes place in the Scarlet Moon Empire, which is located on southeastern coast of the Northern Continent, and is composed primarily of the Toran region, with Lake Toran at its centre. Notable locations in this area include Gregminister, the empire's capital situated in Arlus, the Warrior's Village in the Lorimar region, and the Great Forest. At the end of Suikoden, the empire is replaced by the Toran Republic.
Suikoden II is set in the Dunan region, north-west of the Toran Republic, and initially comprises the Highland Kingdom in the east and the Jowston City-States, a confederation of politically autonomous states, in the west. Significant locations in Jowston include the cities-states of South Window, Greenhill, Muse, and Two River, and the Knightdom of Matilda. Following the Dunan Unification War, the Highland Kingdom falls and it, along with the Jowston City-States unite to form the Dunan Republic. The Tinto region lying in the west, separated from Dunan by mountains, chooses to remain politically independent and becomes the Tinto Republic.
Sharing Dunan's western border and north of Tinto are the Grasslands, which stretch from the centre of the Northern Continent to a small portion of the continent's west coast. The area is composed of the six clans: the Lizard, Duck, Karaya, Chisha, Safir, and the Alma Kinan. Directly west of the Grasslands and bordered in the east by Tinto is the Zexen Confederacy, located on the west coast of the Northern Continent and historically an offshoot of the Grasslands. Important locations include the Zexen capital Vinay del Zexay and Budehuc Castle, which lies close to the Grasslands border in northwest Zexen. The primary conflict of Suikoden III occurs in these areas. The northwestern portion of the continent, due north of the Grasslands and Zexen, is the Knightdom of Camaro and the surrounding Nameless Lands.
The largest country in the north is the Holy Kingdom of Harmonia, located in the northeastern portion of the continent. Since its establishment, it has assimilated various neighbouring countries, such as Sanadia, as well as a portion of the Grasslands – the Kanaa clan of the Grasslands became Le Buque under Harmonian rule after the First Fire Bringer War. Notably, the Scarlet Moon Empire originally formed after obtaining political autonomy from Harmonia and taking Harmonia's old capital as its own, renaming it Gregminister, resulting in Harmonia establishing a new capital at the Crystal Valley. Harmonia is also home to the Tower, a location reserved for training and housing members of the Howling Voice Guild.
Other major areas on the Northern Continent include the Kooluk region and Kanakan. The Kooluk region was originally the Kooluk Empire during the course of Suikoden IV and eventually dissolved in Suikoden Tactics to be left as a group of independent settlements. It takes up most of the southern edge of the Northern continent and directly borders the Toran Republic in the east and the Dunan Republic in the north. Off the eastern coast of Toran is the island of Kanakan.
Lying directly south of the Northern Continent is the ocean and several islands, including Obel, Middleport, and Razril. At the end of Suikoden IV, most of these islands are unified to become the Island Nations Federation. The largest island in the area, the Dukedom of Gaien, remains independent. West of Gaien is the island nation of the Kingdom of Zelant.
Due south of the Island Nations is the Southern Continent, a landmass composed primarily of three countries: the Queendom of Falena, and its neighbours, the theocracy of Nagarea in the southwest and the New Armes Kingdom in the southeast. As the setting for Suikoden V, Falena has a large network of rivers and lakes throughout the country and the Ashtwal Mountains in its northern region. Key locations include the cities of Stormfist and Doraat in the west; Rainwall, Estrise, and Sable, located on the Armes border, in the east; Lelcar, Lordlake, and Sauronix in the south; and the Falenan capital, Sol-Falena, and the holy land of Lunas, governed by the Oracle, in the north. Falena has been protected from the militant theocracy Nagarea since the mountain pass between the nations was destroyed, though Armes continues to remain a threat throughout Suikoden V.
Northeast of Falena also appears portion of a landmass of considerable size. West of the Northern and Southern Continents and the Island Nations is a landmass referred to as the Western Continent, of which few details are known. Scattered across the world are mysterious ruins attributed to the lost Sindar race, which is a recurring theme throughout the Suikoden series.
The Suikoden games have generally been considered to have soundtracks very well liked by the gaming community, though they have only been released in Japan as of 2007.
A series of arranged soundtracks were released from late 2001–2004. Despite the first being released slightly before Suikoden III and the last at around the same time as Suikoden IV, the music was always taken from music in Suikoden, Suikoden II, Suikoden III, and (rarely) the Suikogaiden side-stories.
- Genso Suikoden Music Collection Produced by Hiroyuki Nanba — a 10-track arrangement released on 29 December 2001. The production and arrangement were both done by Hiroyuki Namba, as the name indicates.
- Genso Suikoden Music Collection Produced by Kentaro Haneda — another 10-track arrangement released on 24 April 2002. Kentarō Haneda was only the producer; the arrangements were done by Kousuke Yamashita, Michiru Oshima, Rie Akagi, Kenji Yamamoto, and Hiroshi Takagi.
- Genso Suikoden Vocal Collection ~La passione commuove la storia~ — a 10-track arrangement released on 3 July 2002. The first piece is an instrumental, but the other tracks all feature vocals. The arrangement was done by Kousuke Yamashita, Hiroshi Takagi, and Megumi Ohashi. Performers included Yuko Imai, Risa Oki, and Yoko Ueno.
- Genso Suikoden Vocal Collection ~Distant Stars, Echoes of Love~ — a 10-track arrangement released on 22 January 2003. The arrangement was once more done by Kousuke Yamashita, Hiroshi Takagi, and Megumi Ohashi. Performers included Sanae Shintani, Yuko Imai, and Tomoko.
- Genso Suikoden Piano Collection ~Avertunerio Antes Lance Mao~ — a 13-track arrangement released on 18 December 2002, arranged by Shusei Murai. Despite the name, these are not piano solos; most include orchestral backup, and some have vocals as well.
- Genso Suikoden Celtic Collection — a 12 track arrangement in the style of celtic music released on 5 March 2003. The arrangements were done by Yoko Ueno, Mina Kubota, Yuko Asai, Shigeyoshi Kawagoe, and "The Rain Book."
- Genso Suikoden Celtic Collection 2 — a 12-track arrangement released on 20 August 2003. Arrangement was done by Yoko Ueno, Yuji Yoshino, Yuko Asai, and Shigeyoshi Kawagoe.
- Genso Suikoden Music Collection ~Asian Collection~ — a 12-track arrangement released on 27 November 2003. It was arranged by Kiyoshi Yoshida, Hidenori Maezawa, Yuko Asai, and Shigeyoshi Kawagoe.
- Genso Suikoden Piano Collection 2 — a 12 track arrangement released on 21 January 2004, arranged by Shusei Murai.
- Genso Suikoden Celtic Collection III — a 13 track arrangement released on 14 April 2004, arranged by Yuji Yoshino.
Publications, adaptations, and other material
Many publications, such as the Suikoden World Guide and Suikoden Encyclopedia, exist for the Suikoden series, though the majority are only in Japanese. Suikoden and Suikoden II have light novel adaptations written by Shinjiro Hori released only in Japan. Suikoden III was adapted into a manga by Aki Shimizu, which was released in English markets by Tokyopop.
- Tokimeki Memorial ~ forever with you ~ (1995) (Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PlayStation Portable)
- Mitsumete Knight R (1998) (Sony PlayStation)
The protagonist of Suikoden I is one of the characters in this game.
The protagonist of Suikoden I is one of the selectable characters in this game.
- Cave, Ronnie. "Hardcore Gaming 101: Suikoden". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "New Genso Suikoden Game Announced For PSP". Siliconera.com. 17 September 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- Yin-Poole, Wesley (3 August 2015). "New article on Konami paints a bleak picture". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
- Webster, Andrew (27 July 2020). "Suikoden follow-up Eiyuden Chronicle successfully funded on Kickstarter". The Verge. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
- Suikoden II game