Feature: The Summer of Suikoden II

Suikoden II Box Art

Suikoden II Box Art

Hello and welcome to The Day Tonight’s playthrough of Suikoden II, a JRPG released for the PlayStation in Japan on 17 December 1998, in America on 31 August 1999, and finally in Europe on 28 July 2000.

At its launch, the game did not meet with immediate financial success, hampered partly by Konami’s limited pressing for the game discs. Although it built upon the original release of Suikoden, the sequel remained largely faithful to the original’s gameplay, with a smattering of improvements meant to improve gameplay and flow. As time went on, consumer word-of-mouth helped to establish Suikoden II as one of the best games on the PlayStation system, and even as one of the finest JRPGs.

Clear protagonists and antagonists are the hallmark of the series, and Suikoden II is in many ways responsible for that distinction, with its character arcs that pose situations which were, at the time, almost unique in JRPGs. Instead of facing cut-and-dry representations of good and evil, the hero experiences the motivations for those actions and must even confront his own childhood friends, all within a game world that is only a few years removed from the events of the original Suikoden.

The walk of shame.

Sudden and terrible reversals are a tradition in Suikoden games.

Suikoden II garnered an immense reputation in the years following its release, and the limited availability of the disc meant that, for some time, it was one of the most expensive titles to purchase used for the original PlayStation. Since then, however, the advent of digital releases–and Konami’s interest in leveraging existing franchises–has seen the release of Suikoden II on the PlayStation Network for PSP/PSV/PS3 at a bargain price. This, in turn, has helped to reduce the cost of the discs for those who prefer a physical edition.

The return of existing characters from the original game means that players of Suikoden II will benefit from prior experience with the series. And, Suikoden II established the series tradition of allowing players to load their completed save file from the previous game in order to gain benefits. If a player loads a completed 108 stars playthrough save file from Suikoden, then they will gain the option to recruit the original game’s hero as a playable character in Suikoden II, where the hero’s name will be ?cDohl, with the ? replaced by whatever the first letter of the hero’s name was in the original save file (e.g. if the Suikoden hero’s name was “Caspius”, then he would be “CcDohl” in Suikoden II).

If the system works, why mess with it?

The battle system from Suikoden is largely unchanged.

As became typical of the franchise, Suikoden II is a traditional JRPG which features three kinds of battles: typical JRPG battles, large scale war-game battles, and personal one-on-one duels. The events in these battles can change the outcome of the game, even making possible to lose (or impossible to recruit) some characters. The hero seeks to right a terrible injustice, and fights against an oppressive and tyrannical power–along the way, he will recruit 108 Stars of Destiny who will populate his base of operations, expanding it and bringing to his party and base new talents–blacksmiths and innkeepers are joined by archers and fighters alike, giving players a vast array of options.

Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, secrets you have uncovered, and what characters you are using in your playthrough. Do you feel that the Suikoden series has held up since its initial release on the PlayStation? Or do you think that it is no longer relevant to modern gamers? Do you find the world immersive, lacking in direction, or constricting? Would you support a re-release of the series, or an entirely new game in the franchise? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

The sprite-based effects were very appealing at the time.

Character synergy attacks are once again present.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game in three weeks:
– Week 1: Reunite at South Window.
– Week 2: Rescue Teresa.
– Week 3: Liberate Greenhill City.
– Week 4: Complete the game!

Please join in, even if you are behind on the playthrough. Anyone and everyone is invited to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series (use SuikoSource if you need a helping hand). Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, it is our pleasure to invite you to join The Day Tonight’s staff members and readers as we return to the Suikoden series for the first time since the summer of 2011 in The Summer of Suikoden II!

20 comments on “Feature: The Summer of Suikoden II”

  1. It only took us eight years, but here’s the follow-up to the original Summer of Suikoden!

  2. Summer III in 2027?
    I started playing today. Should have time for an hour or two here and there.

  3. That would sure be something, but Suikoden is so niche that Konami likely doesn’t even remember that it exists.

  4. Hi everyone! I began playing Suikoden II today. I will try to play through together with you all, but my granmother passed away this week so my focus isn’t quite there and also a lot of time is spent planning and making sure all that needs doing gets done. If I fall of the wagon that is why, not because I don’t want to play through with you.

    For this game I feel like I want to play it different than I did the first. I think trying to get all stars on first playthrough made me afraid to not rigidly use a guide and as such I couldn’t explore and I got the plot spoiled beforehand. So I’m just going to play through this much more relaxed and just explore and test things out. Next playthrough can be the get all stars one.

  5. @Winter: I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say that I am very sorry for your loss. Obviously, you have other priorities right now, so don’t worry about trying to constantly keep up with the playthrough. In your own time!

  6. I have a calm morning today. Usually I play a lot of the games with a podcast instead of the music, but the music is such a big part of this game, maybe the thig that sets it apart from other games, it would be a shame not to have it on even if it means less time to play each day.

    First impression I really enjoy the small quality of life changes from the first game. Getting to run off the bat is truly appreciated. It is also stunning to look at.

  7. I’ll be starting my playthrough tonight. Getting off to a late start, I was hoping to have Sekiro finished before beginning my playthrough. I’m in the latter third of that game now but I don’t want to fall too far off the pace here. I’ll be playing my disc version so that I can load my 108 stars save file of Suikoden 1 and recruit “JcDohl” in all his glory.

    Completing Clive’s subquest basically requires speedrunning the game, so while I would like to see it through again, I would have to bypass so much else in the game to do so. I’ll probably pass on it and just recruit as many of the characters as I can from memory.

    I love, love, love Richmond’s investigations and always try to get as many character entries filled in as I can. XD

  8. I have been rather behind this week, but I’ll be starting my playthrough tonight! Luckily, we set aside FOUR WEEKS for it…

  9. Can’t imagine why it was changed from three weeks

    I’m super happy with my decision to play without a guide. Normally I love guides and hate feeling lost. But I’m quite enjoying just exploring the game. I’m also quite patient as a gamer I think. Hey I map Double Dungeons… But I’m surprised how much the small quality of life changes they added have changed the experience.

  10. ;)

    QoL changes are often minor, but have major effects because of their nature: they are the sort of thing which with the player has to engage continually throughout the game. It’s like having a tiny stone in your shoe: it may be small, but because it is constantly annoying you, it becomes a big problem. So removing it, although that is also a tiny action, results in a huge (in the sense of continuous) overall result.

    Both Suiko I and II have some pretty irritating character recruitment hurdles. Pahn in the first game and Clive in the second are both irritating. Luckily, by the time Suikoden III was developed, they had mostly done away with that sort of thing (or, at least, I don’t remember any irritating recruitments, at least).

  11. Yes, that’s exactly it! Seems a small thing, but changing the inventory and the run function has made it go from a good game to a great game for me from 1-2.

  12. I hit the first week milestone today after 6.5 hours. Almost a week late, but I blame Caspius for taking up my gaming time with Borderlands. I’ve been doing overtime at work recently, but now that’s over I hope to hit the next milestone a little quicker.

  13. Zero milestones here too. But I have played 10 hours total now :D Enjoying it, but brought wrong Vita cherger with me on the trip :(

  14. Lol there was no finding a charger in Denmark xD 13 hours in though. Finally figured how to complete current dungeon. Got a healing herb which seems to be exactly the treasure we need!

  15. Ten hours into the game myself now. I’m following a guide because I want to try and see Clive’s story. You need to help him track someone down by reaching various places within a time limit. I’m not speedrunning the game at all, but I’ve managed to beat every boss and recruit every available character without any problems.

    My castle just reached level 2, so I’m currently on a recruiting spree!

  16. @Imitanis: I seem to recall Clive being a bit of a Colombo figure, but it was a long time ago that I last played through Suiko2.

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