Did you know the proper adjective for something made by or originated from elves is elfin? Neither did I, but Suikoden says it so! I met dwarves and elves!
Last time I just got Rune Castle, so I started wandering about, recruiting people. I had access to three towns with my new boat, so I actually managed to recruit several heroes. Within a few minutes, my castle had an elevator, an item store, a smithy and several other services.
Then I got stuck. I found a great place that allowed me to reach level 20 on most of my heroes, but I couldn’t figure out where I needed to go next.
After about an hour of wandering aimlessly, spread out over several short play sessions, I finally figured out I needed to talk to a seedy guy twice at a town called Kouan. He then told me I had to steal a sword from a nobleman named Lepant, in order to impress him and have him join the Liberation Army.
His dungeon had an interesting mini-game where you stand on a roulette machine and get random rewards (or minor punishments). One of these rewards is a Fortune Rune piece, which permanently increases a character’s Luck attribute. I’m pretty sure you can repeat this game indefinitely, potentially increasing Luck by a lot, or even maxing it out, but I didn’t feel like doing it. Up to this point, Suikoden wasn’t challenging enough to justify the time this would take.
I got the sword, recruited Lepant and his wive, as well as a few more random characters and killed (I think) commander Kraze. This was an actual choice that I took without even realizing what I did. In hindsight, I think I would have tried to spare him, but considering all the other choices I had up to this point, I’m not sure it would have been an actual option.
Dwarves and Elves (and Kobolds)
Next up, an elf asked for the Liberation Army’s assistance against the empire, allowing me to get through an enchanted forest and into a whole new area of the world map. This is where the elves, dwarves and kobolds joined the in. Suikoden has a very cliche approach to these fantasy races. Here’s how it basically goes.
Kobolds are not very smart and the’re basically talking dogs. Elves are arrogant and racist. They look down upon humans and dwarves, humans especially so. Dwarves are arrogant and high-tech, but are insecure about their height. Elves and dwarves hate each other with a passion, but mostly everyone hates everyone. No one really cares about kobolds enough to hate them.
In any case, I met up with the elves, who captured my party. Then I escaped to seek help from the dwarves against the empire. After looting their vault in order to impress them, I did get their help, but it was too late, because the elven village already got destroyed.
It’s not a very compelling series of events, but playing Suikoden is fun enough for the story not to really matter. From what I hear and read online, it’s the overall story of the series that’s impressive.
I do have to give credit where it’s due. I was surprised with the kobold side story which seems to be slowly coming into place. In most RPGs, especially JRPGs, kobolds and goblins are just random humanoid enemies. They’re enemies in Suikoden as well, so I was sort of taken by surprise when I stumbled into their village and even met a named kobold NPC. I think he might even be a future hero.
It’s nice to see a game that at least tries to mix up story and gameplay like that. It’s rare to see that these days.
And now for the RPG part of JRPG
As I already said, it’s really easy to have low level characters catch up with higher level ones. The only true annoyance was switching gear around. Luckily, as I was stealing Lepant’s sword, I recruited a warehouse guard.
This unlocked the warehouse feature at the castle. I can now easily remove items from any character in my roster and give it to someone else, making equipment management much, much easier. It can still get tedious due to individual inventories for each character and limited item slots, but it’s miles ahead of what it used to be.
I was wrong about runes. Many basic runes dropped randomly from monsters or can be bought in shops, so only a few characters have there runes fixed due to the story. The rest of them are free to be used as you please it seems.
At the dwarven town, I finally found a higher level blacksmith, able to upgrade weapons all the way up to level 9. This was long overdue. The encounters I fought while trying to reach the dwarves were already getting a bit difficult.
The big issue now is getting enough money to upgrade everyone’s weapons, because it’s really starting to get expensive. Conveniently, there was a hero I could recruit at the dwarven town. He seems to be the brother of my previous castle blacksmith, so my guess is he’ll replace him, though I haven’t been back to the castle yet to know for sure.
On the way through the enchanted forest, I also recruited a strange girl. The way she spoke and my experience with JRPGs tells me she’s probably some sort of time traveler or divine creature. I look forward to see if my guess was right.
Revenge of the elves! I have to go back through the forest and return to the castle to get my next assignment.
Total time played: 6 or so hours. That’s close to three hours since my last write up.