Character recruitment has never been so fun
Back in the heydey of the original PlayStation, there were a few JRPG series that stood out for their original concept, unique play style, or just to offer something different than the ever popular Final Fantasy series, and one of them is Suikoden. Konami’s take on the genre turned out to be successful and it managed to generate a cult following over the years, even though some of the later entries were not well received by critics.
Personally, I played the first two games on the PlayStation and I had a great time with both of them. One of the distinctive and recurring traits of the Suikoden series is the recruitment of 108 Stars of Destiny characters, which can be used to form your main party. It offers players flexibility in completing the game, as it’s entirely up to you whether you want to recruit all of the characters. I skipped out on the PlayStation 2 entries for Suikoden, but I reconnected with the franchise when Suikoden Tierkreis was launched for the Nintendo DS, and it turned out to be one of the best gaming decisions I have made.
What is Suikoden Tierkreis?
Suikoden Tierkreis is a turn-based RPG developed and published by Konami for the Nintendo DS. It’s a spin-off of the series and it was released in 2009. Suikoden Tierkreis received generally favorable reviews from critics, and it became one of the underrated JRPGs that was released for the DS.
Plot & Gameplay
Suikoden Tierkreis puts you in the shoes of a nameless protagonist, which is a typical trope for JRPGs as you explore the concept of parallel worlds and try to save them from the threat of a very powerful enemy. What sets this game apart from other titles in the genre is the flexibility afforded to players as you can choose whether to recruit all of the 108 Stars of Destiny characters, or you can just opt for the more relevant ones that might suit your party. Even if you choose to recruit them all just for the sake of being a completionist, Suikoden Tierkreis awards your effort with well-crafted dialogues for each of the characters, giving you a sense of connection with your allies in-game. You might even receive some bonus items or features that can help you in your quest to save the world.
The gameplay stays true to the Suikoden series, with a classic turn-based battle system complimented by random enemy encounters. You can only have up to four members in your party as opposed to six in the main series, and the choice is virtually limitless since you can recruit so many characters. With that said, it’s best to group up characters from the same faction together, since more often than not that they’ll have a strong combination attack at your disposal. You can even vary your play style from time to time, whether you prefer ranged characters with bows and arrows, physical characters that use claws or swords, or even magical characters that can deal elemental punishment.
Despite the variety of combat styles that you can utilize against your enemies, the difficulty is fairly straightforward and it can be a bit disappointing for those that seek for a challenge. I just set up a team made up from some of the strongest in-game characters, and I managed to beat Suikoden Tierkreis using just brute force and occasionally a bit of magic without having the need to grind. You don’t even need to grind for money as well by utilizing the game’s trading system (buy low, sell high) across different locations.
Where does Suikoden Tierkreis stand among the series and will we ever get a modern Suikoden?
Despite some of the disappointing entries in the franchise, especially the PlayStation 2 titles, I believe Suikoden Tierkreis managed to revitalize the series, if not slightly. It’s a testament to what Suikoden represents as a JRPG series, and Konami’s effort has to be applauded for what they managed to produce for a handheld device. With that said, the release of a modern Suikoden is very unlikely after the lacklustre reception of its latest releases, coupled with Konami’s commitment in the mobile gaming sector. It’ll be a shame though, as I believe there is much more that the series can offer to expand the variety of the JRPG genre. Maybe Konami can hand over the IP to a third-party developer like Bandai Namco? Until that happens, you can try out Suikoden Tierkreis, or even the older PlayStation titles to experience a quality, yet underappreciated JRPG series.