Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

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nosimpleway
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Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sat Jan 25, 2014 11:48 am

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It's 1996. You have a PlayStation. Final Fantasy 7 won't be out until next year. What do you do?

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In retrospect, Suikoden and Wild ARMs were "holding out for the next Final Fantasy" games for my group of friends at the time. Which is pretty unfair, because both of those are good games in their own right.


And to be completely fair, Wild ARMs had the superior opening video (even if it didn't make a whole lot of sense in the context of the game proper).

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So anyway! Until this nagging illness I've had for the last two weeks ever clears up and I can do video voiceovers without sniffling obnoxiously into the microphone, I'm gonna do another screenshot LP. This one!

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First, up, we name our bandana-clad hero, the only son of the great Imperial General Teo McDohl. The closest thing this guy ever got to a canon name is "Tir", from the manga or a radio drama in Japan or something, and that's been pretty widely accepted by the Suikoden fandom. But for reasons, his name should start with M and have no other capital letters in it, or be all caps and at least six letters long. And I'm drawing a blank on anything clever to call the guy under those restrictions, so I'm opening the thread up to suggestions.

What do we name the heir of the McDohl household?

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Thad
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby Thad » Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:04 pm

Something that starts with "M" soit doesn't fuck his name up in the sequel.
Last edited by Bongo Bill on Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: By popular request, concealed a spoiler.

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Disposable Ninja
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby Disposable Ninja » Sat Jan 25, 2014 1:35 pm

Mtir
For the White Witch!

McDohl
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby McDohl » Sat Jan 25, 2014 3:40 pm

○×∆□☆

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Esperath
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby Esperath » Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:12 pm

Mronto

Edit: Since we're talking Wild ARMs, 『Elw』
pisa katto

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pisa katto

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Mazian
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby Mazian » Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:16 pm

He's a silent protagonist, right? Mute.

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MarsDragon
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby MarsDragon » Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:19 pm

Do all lowercase instead.

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Disposable Ninja
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby Disposable Ninja » Sat Jan 25, 2014 5:37 pm

Mick
For the White Witch!

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Healy
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby Healy » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:29 pm

All caps is okay? DEATHLARD. (Is that too many letters?)
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Lyrai
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby Lyrai » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:33 pm

Mana

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Bongo Bill
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby Bongo Bill » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:41 pm

Marty
...but is it art?

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:13 am

You guys are as terrible at naming things as ever.

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And the reward for "Best PSX RPG Logic" goes to Mazian.

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Young McDohl approves. He'd say "I approve", but, well...

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The game has a few cute loading screens, but they only happen when the game is loaded from the title screen. Before the years of 3D battle scenes and sprawling, complicated maps to explore, games didn't need loading times. Suck it, Chrono Cross!
In this case, a cat stalks a pigeon, pausing each time the pigeon stops to peck and scratch at the dirt.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:28 am

Music: Imperial Palace Consultation. As usual, this works best if you open in a new tab and let it play in the background.

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The game opens with our hero (we recognize him from the naming screen) and a swordsman in a small waiting room in some sort of palace. Waiting's for suckers, let's go look around.

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You have a name! You must be important!

Kasim Hazil: ......... Ha ha ha ha ha! You have an excellent face, just like your father. You'll be an important man like him, too. I, Kasim Hazil, guarantee it.

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Downstairs, Mute gets scolded for barging into the office of the Imperial Guard Commander, a man by the very comforting name of "Kraze". Maybe it's Krah-zeh? No, that's not any better. (His name in Japanese was indeed still "Kraze", so whether this is intentionally invoking the English "Crazy" is debatable.)

Imperial Guard: Y-you're - General Teo's son. Ah, your name was... I'm so sorry. I'm not used to this job yet.

Maid: Master Mute, there is still some time before your audience with the Emperor. Please wait with your father, General Teo.

I love clumsy early-game exposition. "Please wait with your father, whose name is General Teo, in case you forgot."

Clerk: Say, you're General Teo's son! How you've grown.

Bootlick: Ha ha! Just look at these shiny boots. I've dreamed of joining the Imperial Guard since I was a little kid.

Messenger: Something's going on up north. But there's nothing to worry about if General Teo's going there.

Maid: How wonderful it is that you'll be working under His Majesty the Golden Emperor Barbarosa. It's like a dream come true.

Lady-in-Waiting: Lady Windy, the new Court Magician, bears quite a resemblance to the late Lady Claudia.

That first "Lady" is the high-rank title of the Court Magician, Windy. That second "Lady" is the higher-ranking title of the former Empress consort, Claudia.

The door guards won't let Mute out of the palace, and in the typical fashion of RPGs of this period, there are only a handful of people to talk to inside. Guess we'll go talk to dad and get this plot started.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:45 am

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What a manly jawline.

Teo McDohl: Just be the way you always are. The Emperor is stern, but there's nothing to be afraid of.

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Announcement: Here for an audience with the Emperor.

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Music: Eternal Empire

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Teo: Much as they were when we fought together in the War of Succession, Your Highness.
Barbarosa: Impressive words. Do you not agree, Windy?

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Barbarosa: Teo, I am sure you are aware of the troubling activity in the north. Would you be willing to travel there to protect the border?
Minister: Our disputes with the United City-State of Jowstone are complicated, but with General McDohl in charge, we can rest assured.
Barbarosa: My beloved sword Prakk has brought me luck on countless occasions. I would like you to have it . Take it with you.

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The game's barely started and Teo gets his first equipment upgrade. His General's sword is now an Emperor's sword!

Teo: Thank you, Your Highness. I, Teo, swear not to disappoint you.
Barbarosa: You have my blessings. Good luck, Teo. So you're Teo's boy Mute. Quite an impressive little countenance. Listen, Mute. Would you be willing to give the Empire a helping hand while your father is protecting the northern border?

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I can think of no better way to demonstrate that nothing the hero says in this game matters one whit than by smarting off to the Emperor's face.

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"I am the Emperor, therefore what you want doesn't matter. Deal with it."

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In so many words.

Barbarosa: Plenty of time for freedom later.
Teo: Thank you for your kind words, Your Highness.
Minister: Commander Kraze of the Imperial Guard will be Master Mute's superior.
Windy: What an attractive young man you are. Good luck to you, Mute.
Teo: We had better be going, Your Highness.
Barbarosa: I'm relying on you, Teo. And Mute, I hope your efforts will surpass your father's.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:51 am

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Well, that could have gone worse. Got a job, thumbed my nose at the Emperor, flirted a little with the Court Magician... all in all, a good day.

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Well, you can only push things so far. Probably best not to storm back into the Imperial Court and, like, blow your nose on the curtains or anything.

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Teo: You're embarrassing me, Kasim.

Maid: Why Master Mute. Was Lady Windy at the audience too? I've heard that she bears a close resemblance to Lady Claudia. He still mourns her passing.

No one else has anything new to say.

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Kraze: What's your name? Mute? I couldn't care less if you're the son of a great general. You'll get no special treatment here, understand? Now go on home. Work begins tomorrow. Report here first thing in the morning.

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I can just imagine that these words are spoken in slightly louder-than-conversational tones. It's not like Kraze has an office door, anyway.

Teo: Gremio must be worried sick.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:57 am

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Teo is tired of following his son around while he talks to every Imperial peon in the palace, so he takes over and walks the two of them straight home.

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Through the courtyard, over the guardhouse bridge that separates the palace from the capital city, and through the city square to the stately McDohl manor.

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Gremio: Were you nervous in front of the Emperor? I was soooo worried. But I guess everything went fine.
Teo: You shouldn't worry so much, Gremio.
Gremio: Oh! Master Teo... I didn't notice you at all.
Teo: Didn't notice me? Good grief. The only one you seem to care about is Mute.
Gremio: Sorry, Master Teo. By the way, Young Master, Ted is here to congratulate you. Oh my god! The stew! The stew!

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Gremio makes a hasty exit.

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Mute shrugs and leaves the house.

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...and the city.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:10 am

Music: Tiny Characters in a Huge World
This is the overworld theme. The combat theme is a pretty generic, forgettable melody.

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Outside, Mute is accosted by the local wildlife! Random encounters!

The battle system in Suikoden is quick and breezy. The battles are only in pseudo-3D, so there's no loading time between the map screen and the battle screen; the transition is as fast as it was in SNES games. Once in battle, there are four overall options: Fight lets you choose battle commands for everyone in the party one at a time, allowing for manual control, use of items, and the casting of magic. Run gives the party a single chance to flee. If it succeeds, the battle ends with no EXP or money reward. If it fails, the enemies get a free turn to hit the party. Bribe is an option to flee that's more likely to succeed, but costs money.

Free Will is what makes the battle system a paragon of speed and ease unmatched by almost any game released before or after (including, sadly, later Suikoden series titles). Free Will lets each party member choose an enemy and hit it with a physical attack. Since party members that are targetting different enemies will all leap forward and strike at the same time, a round of combat in Suikoden only takes a few seconds to resolve.

Compare to Final Fantasy 9, for the same system but several years later, where you may actually fall asleep between issuing your party commands and having those commands resolve themselves. It's kind of sad how much the genre has resisted the obvious innovation of "Don't make combat fucking boring".

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It took you longer to read that explanation than it did for this fight to end.

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No matter what their current experience level, it takes 1000 EXP to reach the next one. If the enemies defeated are tougher than the characters that defeated them, the characters gain proportionately more EXP for winning. If the monsters were particularly weak, EXP gains are similarly decreased. This means that later in the game, when characters I've largely ignored are forced into the party and are twenty levels behind, they'll catch up quickly.

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In this case, beating a single BonBon (the game's equivalent of a Dragon Quest Slime, only fuzzy instead of oozy) is enough to bump Mute up to level 3.

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A few more fights, some demanding Mute flee -- those Boars are tough -- and a handful won bring Mute up to level 8. At this level, he's so much stronger that he no longer needs to run from the monsters. The monsters run from him! Ha ha! The "Flee" option turns into "Let Go" if the party is significantly stronger than the enemies they face. There's still no EXP or money reward, but Let Go never fails. Again, compare to other games that are full of random encounters that refuse to let the party get away until the monsters have plinked away a few time-consuming but barely-damaging hits.

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Anyway. Mute's got places to go. Across a bridge to the west, and up into the mountains.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:19 am

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As you might expect, there are tougher enemies up here. But level 8 is high enough to still be allowed to Let Go. Otherwise, having to flee from every fight against enemies that are likely to one-turn-kill Mute by himself makes this a risky side quest.

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Especially groups of six Killer Rabbits, who throw their axes at Mute for damage that really adds up.

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Rune Pieces are fragments of magic aligned with one of the five basic elements the game offers. (Those elements being Earth, Fire, Lightning, Water, and Wind.) A single element of Rune Piece can be slapped onto a weapon to make that weapon aligned with that element (thus capable of piercing elemental weaknesses) and gives a stat boost. Wind Rune Pieces give a bonus to Skill, making it more likely for the user to land a critical hit
except
that this game was translated quite hastily, and the names of two Rune Pieces are switched. This is actually an Earth Rune Piece, and tempering it onto a weapon will instead increase the wielder's Defense!

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Another chest has an antique. Mute's no connoisseur of fine art, so he doesn't even know what it's worth.

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There's a little inn on the mountain pass, but it's locked up and nobody's inside. It's a shame, Mute's getting awfully tired and a cup of tea would be awfully comforting right now.

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Even without stopping to rest, Mute makes it through the mountain pass.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:27 am

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Walk into this little mountain village like a champ!

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Crystals contain runes, and a single rune can be attached to any party member. Runes allow the character either an active skill (a more powerful physical hit, fire-elemental spells) or a passive ability (extra evasion, higher chance to critical hit). The Fortune Rune is a passive ability that doubles the amount of experience its bearer gains after battle. It's not very useful given the game's scaling experience system, but the only way to get it is by making the trip up to Sarady, with only Mute in the party, right now before the game really begins.

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Anyway, back to the Imperial capital of Gregminster, and the McDohl household! Gotta start this game sooner or later.

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nosimpleway
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Re: Not if it's bitter. Let's Play Suikoden!

Postby nosimpleway » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:30 am

No, wait, no plot yet.

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The building with the magnifying lens on the sign is an Appraiser.

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Is it junk? Is it valuable?

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Is it a terracotta pot shaped like an octopus? Yes!

Okay, plot resumes.

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