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Suikoden: Tierkreis

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

The Suikoden series has been around since the first one was released in Japan at the end of 1995. Fourteen years later, the latest release is Suikoden Tierkreis.

The graphics in the series have come a long way from the original sprite characters in the first two games. Given that Suikoden Tierkreis is a DS game, the graphics aren't going to be as good as the last releases that were for the PS2. But the graphics are on par with the newest DS games that I've played recently. There is quite a variety of characters. I was impressed with how many different looks they came up with for the characters from different places. Not that they haven't in the previous games, but they seemed even more varied in this one.

The music is very reminiscent of the previous Suikoden games. I'm not 100% sure that the background music is the exact same as one of them, but it's so familiar that I believe it is. The music does change throughout the game depending on where you are and what battles you are in. I do like the battle sound effects. It's just a nice bonus to have different effects for a sword slash, an arrow attack, a magic attack, etc. The one thing I do have a complaint about is the characters' speech. During the action cutscenes, everything sounds fine. But when they are standing around talking, quite a bit of the time some of the characters are speaking way too fast. So fast sometimes that it is hard to understand them without the text below. Granted, it's not all the time though. The hero is the worst about it.


Gameplay:

In Suikoden Tierkreis, you are playing as the hero (whatever you choose to name him) and his friends Marica, Jale, and Liu. You'll pick up a lot more playable characters along the game (there are 108 stars of destiny if you manage to recruit them all and even more non-star characters). To start out with, you and your friends are just leaving the village to kill off the monsters. After visiting the ancient ruins to clear out the monsters, you find a mysterious book. When touched by the chosen, they are bestowed with a power and a vision of a major battle. Anyone else who touches the book, like Dirk (your mentor and fighting instructor), just sees a blank book. After receiving their new powers, the group realizes that a huge forest that is now there hasn't always been there. Anyone who isn't chosen just thinks they're crazy though, since they are certain there's always been a forest there. Not knowing what else to do, they take the book with them and return to the village. From here on out, things really start to get going.

On your travels to find out about the book, you run into a horrible religious order known as The Order of the One True Way. They believe that everything is predetermined and that when they convert everyone to their beliefs, they will know all of the future and everything that is going to happen. Like most crazy religious orders, they will convert people by force if they have to. The hero and his group of friends will have to team up with the order's enemies to protect their own village and eventually try to bring the order down.

So if you're a follower of the Suikoden series, I'm sure your first question is which rune is the focus of this game. In Suikoden 1, it was the soul eater. Suikoden 2 was the black sword and the bright shield rune. Suikoden 3 wer the elemental runes, true fire, true water, etc. You get the picture. Well, I hate to inform you, but there are no runes in Suikoden Tierkreis. Instead, the chosen 108 stars of destiny receive "the power of the stars" when they touch the tomes. You'll have to find all the tomes in your journey before you can get any magic powers.

The one thing I found really frustrating was money. You don't get money from defeating enemies anymore (which in a way makes sense since I can't see animals carrying gold around). To get money, you have to trade in the pelts, meat, and other things that the enemies drop. I really do hate being forced to trade in markets. It's nice as a side thing that you can use for extra money if you want, but when you're forced to find the trader to sell items just to go buy things, it's no fun.


Difficulty:

Suikoden Tierkreis is by far the easiest of the Suikoden series that I have played (and I've beaten them all except Suikoden Tactics). Normally, I have to spend at least a little time just fighting monsters to get to a level that I need to be to survive. In Suikoden Tierkreis, I have run straight through the game without spending any time leveling my characters up and I have yet to find a battle that I even had trouble with. I haven't even spent much time in upgrading weapons. In previous games, I had to make sure I had the latest equipment and weapons to survive. In this one, I've barely spent time in the shops. Every now and then, I'll go get a new weapon, but they're just not necessary. I also haven't had to buy any medicine or antidotes. I've gotten more than enough medicine from killing monsters, especially considering I haven't had to use any since the healing power from the stars works so well. The antidotes really aren't needed at all. The poison only lasts for the battle, so if you just go ahead and kill the monsters off, you won't be poisoned anymore.

The one thing I have found difficult is figuring out where to go next. I still wish the Suikoden series had maps for the monster areas. I have such a problem with getting lost, but that's not only in this game. You do get a nice map for the world areas and it's very easy to go from place to place in the villages. You simply leave a shop/area and it asks you where you want to go next. You can't get much easier than that!


Game Mechanics:

The controls in Suikoden Tierkreis are very easy to use and quite intuitive. You use the control pad to move around the screen. You can also use the touch screen if you want, but to be honest, it's much easier to use the button controls. The (A) button lets you select everything. The one weirdness I found with it is when you have a choice of responses on the screen. You have to press down and then back up to the first one if you want to select it. For some reason, you can't just hit (A) on the first choice. But other than that, the controls are quite smooth and should be easy for you to use.

One nice feature of the mark of the stars is that you can swap around the powers from all of your characters. So instead of having one character that has a healing "rune," you can give each character a healing power and an attack power. This does make it a bit easier to customize your characters than ever before.

Overall, Suikoden Tierkreis is a good RPG. It's not the best I've played lately and it's not the best in the Suikoden series by far, but it is entertaining. If you like RPG's, then you should go pick it up today.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

Sony PlayStation 3 Zen Pinball Nintendo Wii Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Grooves

 
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