I don’t know much about Suikoden, except that everyone hated the DS one (Tierkreis) and I loved it. I also watched a dude at a convention buy a copy of the first game for like $400, cash. What I do know is I’ve been playing the spiritual successor, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. Made by Suikoden vets, Rising is a Kickstarter bonus Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, a similar case to Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. This one’s a cute, little side-scrolling JRPG that’s mostly here to introduce the world and have a good time. And yeah, that tracks.
One of the big things about Suikoden was the Stars of Destiny, a collective name for a whopping 108 characters in total you could recruit, in each game. So you can see what that Hundred Heroes subtitle means. You gotta wait for the excess, though. That game’s out in 2023. Here, you get to know three characters, each one distinct and full of personality. And that’s definitely the high point in Rising.
All the shout-outs in the world to the folks who localized this one. The text is breezy, silly and unafraid to do stuff like, “yusssss.” It’s a cool vibe, brings me back to how Breath of Fire 3’s old script read like Twitter posts sometimes. But here it’s on purpose instead of a quality control issue. It also helps that these three characters, even in such a short slice of videogame, really jump off the “page.” These characters are far away from anime tropes, and you get to see different sides of their personalities.
For example, there’s a roughneck, surly kangaroo man with a massive sword, named… Garoo. His name is Garoo. I just realized the Thing there, jesus christ. Anyway, Garoo could’ve just been a grumpy badass sword man the whole time. Instead, you get to see him get more and more pissed off at lead CJ’s eagerness to accept side quests to the point he’s screaming about stamps in capslock. And when you run into a snowy area, he spends the entire time whining and shivering. This man will just fall apart and you’d never know from looking at his design.
Vibes abound in this game, even down to the NPCs and the way their individual neuroses color their otherwise simple JRPG fetch quests. Every character has multiple interests, motivations and flaws, all of which show up when the core of what’s happening is “give me three sticks and fuck off.” The writing and localization is top-shelf, folks.
The rest of the game? Eh, it’s fine. It’s a sidescrolling JRPG, so most of the nuance in getting around involves Metroid-like gatekeeping and material gathering. Combat seems like an afterthought for quite a while, until you finally start to unlock more stuff to do. It starts out feeling like a NES game, as you jump onto little platforms and bonk enemies with your one swing move. But as you do side quests, buy gear and progress, a lot of cool stuff starts to open up. Soon you’ll be doing actual strings, attacking in different directions, air-dashing, swapping characters mid-combo, and occasionally solving little puzzles.
Ultimately, you’ll only be here for about ten hours or so, unless you really want to do everything there possibly is to do. Which is mostly more side quests and a harder difficulty. But really, the intent here isn’t to be a big ol’ game that stands entirely on its own and gets its own sequel and stuff. It’s an introduction to Eiyuden Chronicle’s world, style, and personality. This series was barely on my radar (I missed a lot of PS1 stuff, gimme a break), but now I’m on board. So, mission accomplished.
- Vibrant world and characters
- Top-tier localization/writing
- Questing loop gets a little stale
- Combat takes a weirdly long time to open up
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.