Konami - Tested on the PlayStation by Kyle Swiston in 2000, reworked in 2019.
Two years ago I took a chance on Suikoden. It was in a bargain bin for $20 with a bunch of other mediocre psx titles. Being the only rpg there and with a faint remembrance that it was critically acclaimed a few years back, I decided that I would risk it. That turned out to be one of the better choices in my 10+ years as a Hardcore gamer.
In my opinion this has always been the series' strongest point. This is the a classic tale of War, Deceit, and Tragedy. You never know when your closest friend will betray you, or when a valued party member will perish in battle. Even with over 100 characters, Konami manages to breath life into each and every one. Be warned though, this is a very sad story and if your the emotional type who gets personally attached to your characters, you're bound to be heart broken along the way.
Since the title is approaching it's fifth year, there naturally isn't anything that is going to impress you in this column. Sporting aged two dimensional sprites and frilless spell effects, this game almost looks like a late SNES title. Thankfully this is not the titles main appeal. In fact it may be it's weakest point
The music is actually not that bad. Like the sequel, many tracks have a Celtic overtone to them. I wouldn't say that it sports the best soundtrack in history, but at least you can play this title with the volume up. The sound effect, like the graphics, on the other hand are only slightly above mediocre and are nothing special.
I have no real complaints in this department. The magic system is nicely done, and it's a welcome change to have a 6 person party rather than the standard 3. Being a role playing game, the controls are as responsive as they have to be. Still, it would have been nice to move on a diagonal when traveling the world map. For the most part this title sticks to the old school tried and true formula of gameplay.
There are a few extra features to check out here. First off, with 108 playable characters, this game sports one of the largest casts in rpg history. You also will get a castle which will grow as you recruit more characters. If you recruit a item store owner for example, you will gain an item store in your home base. The large full army battles are played in the form of a paper, scissors, rock type mini game.
It's pretty hard to get all 108 characters the first time around (without a walkthrough at least), so most players will want to play through at least twice. Also, there are a least two endings based on if you get all 108 characters or not. More accurately, if all 108 characters make it out alive or not. This is a lot harder a challenge than it sounds.
Ah yes, this was one of the first reviews we had online here when the page was called rpg-worldwide. Suikoden is always a good start for reviews, since it is - at least for me - the gold standard for classic turn based RPGs.
You can read from the wording that Shadow Raven wasn't as excited as he was with Suikoden II, but he found it good enough that we can award the "classic" even in 2019.
It's interesting how much years have passed since this review. Kyle mentioned in this review that Suikoden enters its fifth year of existance, or rather being four years old. Now, Suikoden is almost 24 years old. Creepy how time flies, huh?