Ask most any gamer what their favorite RPG is and more than likely, you’ll hear answers like Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, Zelda, Pokémon, and things of that nature. While those are all lovely games and games that I grew up playing, I wouldn’t necessarily say that my favorite really belongs in any of the named series.
My favorite RPG of all time, is a game that goes by the name of Suikoden II. The Suikoden franchise first launched in 1995 with the original Suikoden. What really makes this series really stand out for me, is the story line. The story evolves past the whole “Monster overlord” or “Evil tyrant” or something like that where you run in to emotionless characters and things of that nature.
I remember many parts of the first and the second games where I was in tears due to some of the characters and the pure raw emotion that they display.
The game is a turn based RPG, with a six character party system. One of my favorite things about that, is the fact that you get 108 characters that you can unlock and choose from. Every single character in the game has a unique back story, and they’re all vastly different characters with vastly different play styles.
One of my favorite features about the combat system is the ability to have two characters perform a ‘union attack’, where they get together to do massive amounts of damage to an enemy. Some characters have runes that they can use for added battle effects to make the game even more interesting, as the runes also tie in to the story as well.
Now, with all of that being said. Surely it’s a popular franchise, right? Well, it used to be. As of lately, Konami has sort of ignored the franchise and left it to die out. But, have no fear! About a year ago, I discovered what was called the Suikoden Revival Movement. The SRM is a group of dedicated Suikoden fans who are doing everything that they can muster to get Konami to give Suikoden the attention that it deserves.
As of right now, they’re rocking a solid 17 thousand followers on Facebook. I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Holmes, who is one of the creators of the Revival Movement the other day, and here’s what he had to say about the movement.
What was the spark that made you want to start up the Suikoden Revival Movement?
Campaigning actually began back in late 2010. Myself and fellow admin Ryan Hughes grew tired of the situation the Genso Suikoden series has now found itself in. We are both members of Suikdoen fan website, Suikosource.com, and used to debate a lot on there about the future of the Suikoden series.
We could see that a lot of fans felt as frustrated as we did but tended to vent these frustrations rather than constructively coming up with a plan to try and resurrect the series. Also, due to the popularity of Facebook, we started to meet a lot of like minded and genuinely lovely Suikoden fans form around the world. This added to our excitement and created a new ”Suikoden buzz” in our lives!
Therefore, we started to campaign and tried to gain some sort of foothold with the various Konami branches. Inspired by our efforts, many Suikoden fans started to follow suit. Eventually, the two of us could not sustain campaigning on our own. In July 2012, fellow Suikosource member, Mathias Micheel, suggested we create a page via social media too keep all the campaigning and fans in the one place.
This is an idea we had been toying with for some time. It was the natural next step. Thus, the Suikoden Revival Movement was born with the three of us at the helm. Another member of the Suikosource forums, Dan, joined us back in December 2012 and has contributed much toward the movement.
How is the progress with the movement so far? Surely with 17 thousand likes on your Facebook page and counting, you’ve managed to accrue some attention somewhere.
Pretty good! We have had recognition from Jason Schreier at Kotaku.com, Siliconera.com and the infamous Jim Sterling at Destructoid.com, as well as vastly numerous smaller online sources. We have also had official recognition from the Official PlayStation Magazine UK where we featured in their December issue last year.
I can not go into too much detail but our conversation with Konami have been pretty decent as of late. Well, Konami UK/EU have been fantastic. Konami US have been somewhat frustrating. They are certainly aware of our existence but proper conversations with them always seem to lead to dead ends or fizzle out entirely.
We continue to pursue this avenue. Konami Japan have been great too but there is a language barrier. We have a small group of translators and hope to start making some serious waves in Japan in 2014. It starts with Operation Blinking Mirror.
Pretty soon here, you’ve scheduled something called “Operation: Blinking Mirror” Can you elaborate what you hope to accomplish with this?
Yes, of course. Operation Blinking Mirror is, quite simply, a mass mail in campaign geared towards Konami Japan. From December 10th-12th 2013, we ask as many of our following as possible to send letters in to Konami Japan.
The purpose of OBM is to show Konami Japan that there is still much love and interest (and potential sales!) for the Suikoden franchise. We also want to implore Konami to set any future Suikoden installments back in the main world, timeline and geography. Fans will be invited to send their letters in any language they choose but, of course, Japanese is preferable.
Template texts shall be written in Japanese for people to use if they choose to. But it is not just letters we want peope to send. We want people to send in their artwork, cosplay pictures, musical arrangements etc. Anything creative that shows their love for the Suikoden series. We want to give Konami Japan the ”WOW! factor”.
What are your ultimate hopes and dreams for the movement, the point where you can say “I’ve done what I was aiming to do” ?
Ideally, we want more main Suikoden installments i.e. Suikoden VI! But we realise the mammoth complexity of this task. We want to revive the Suikoden series. This means ensuring that Suikoden is as available as possible to the current and future generations of gamers.
This can be achieved by the re-release of the current games on digital distribution worldwide i.e. PSN, XBLA, Steam, Android and iOS. We hope Konami and the fans can work together to promote such re-releases proeprly too. Not only is all this the most realistic option to pave the way for an eventual Suikoden VI, but it also gives the Genso Suikoden series the spotlight and respect that it truly deserves.
I would be happy with that. But I will always keep pushing for that Suikoden VI.
If somebody wanted to pick up the series and knew nothing about it, what would be the best way to convince them to pick it up? ie Your friend is interested and knows nothing of the game, how would you describe it to him so that he goes “Oh, well that sounds like fun. Let’s try it!” ?
Hmmm. I find this somewhat difficult to answer as not every gamer is an RPG fan. It would be more difficult to introduce someone to Suikoden if they had not played/were not a fan of any other RPGs. But I feel I could convince them. For starters, in my opinion, Suikoden is one of the greatest stories ever told.
It has a very mature, intriguing politically driven and spiritually motivated plot. The huge array of characters, in itself, is such a great and unique reason to play such an epic series. The size of the geography, different countries, cities and cultures is also very appealing.
Such an epic sized world and story with hundreds of interesting and relatable characters, who mostly all have interesting back-stories is reason in itself to try these games out. The soundtrack, too, is one of the greatest reasons to play the series. In my opinion the soundtracks of the Suikoden games are some of the best arrangements available in the gaming world. Its a shame for others to miss out on all this.
Below is a video that highlights the Suikoden Revival Movement (created last year) and some of the aspects of the game that really make it shine through, and it’s worth your time to watch and (hopefully invest) in the Suikoden Revival Movement as well.