June 23, 2015 saw the release of Suikoden III as a PS2 Classic in North America and Europe. For European Suikoden fans, it marks the end of a near-13 year wait for the title since its original 2002 release.
Infamously, the game never came out in PAL territories ostensibly due to quality control rules regarding localisation languages in Europe. While European fans are understandably excited about this first chance to play the game without resorting to emulation, importing or console modding, fans in North America may be forgiven for being more muted about the prospect. Especially when you consider Suikoden III’s role in the collective narrative of the series.
Now the story of a wealthy series who lost everything, and the one game who had no choice but to keep them all together.
The announcement of Suikoden II’s imminent PlayStation Network release for PS3 and Vita has excited fans old and new. As the series comes into focus once again, it’s perhaps appropriate that the attention centers on Suikoden II, seeing as it has never really not been the center of attention as far as the Suikoden fandom goes.
Suikoden II, within the Suikoden fan base, is Suikoden. Everything revolves around the title, everything else is “before” Suikoden II or “after” Suikoden II. It is the template for what Suikoden is with future games being judged to a large extent based on how “Suikoden II-y” a new title is. But what has caused this situation and where does it leave the game itself?
In August of 2004, Gensosuikoden IV was released in Japan. Since that day, it has been held up as the Anti-Christ of the series, the game that shattered the ethos of the Suikoden series and left fans and Konami alike to try and pick up the pieces. It has also been championed by a minority who feel it is a hidden gem; a game that wasn’t exactly what people imagined it would be and was damned regardless of its positive features. Whatever opinion you hold, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that for the series as a whole, Suikoden IV was one of the most important titles.
It came out in a time of, what could be retrospectively be called, naive optimism for the fandom. With the success and high critical regard given to Suikoden III, it would appear that Suikoden IV would continue to lead the charge for the series as it approached its tenth year.
Luc, Flik and Viktor feature prominently on the introduction to the We Love Konami! retrospective.
Recently, Dengeki PlayStation in Japan released their 573rd issue of their illustrious magazine. As Konami is frequently represented by the number 573, Dengeki PlayStation gave the middle of the magazine over to a celebration of Konami’s long history in the video game industry.
As somewhat of a retrospective of Konami’s past (with a lot of hype for Metal Gear Solid V and Silent Hills, it must be said), the Suikoden series was always going to earn a mention but the force with which it dominated the insert was surprising even to optimistic Japanese fans.