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Suikoden Tactics - Impression

Rhapsodia / Suikoden Tactics
Developer: Konami
ESRB: Pending
Release Date: 11.08.2005 (North America)
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Tactical action

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For the past couple of years there has been an influx of zany TRPGs. This game is not one of them; Suikoden Tactics takes itself refreshingly seriously. For a series as successful and character driven as Suikoden, it’s not surprising that Konami would take the series into the tactical genre. As many are already aware, Suikoden Tactics takes place in the same area of the world as Suikoden IV, with events spanning before and after. Those who haven’t played Suikoden IV can still enjoy Suikoden Tactics due to there only being a loose connection to the title. Like previous Suikoden titles, save data can be imported from the previous game to unlock extra cut-scenes. The first surprise when popping in the title was seeing that it offers progressive scan output for those with component output on a semi-modern TV.

"A treat for all fans of the genre..."

Suikoden Tactics begins with a short narrative explaining a tale of magical runic creatures that have been turned into weapons called rune cannons. Afterwards, the first battle sequence begins with the player in control of two small kids, Snowe Vingerhut and his friend. Snowe and his buddy have decided to test their mettle against small furry creatures called Furballs. After dispatching these enemies, a monster hidden in shadow runs past them. A few seconds later, a traveling band of adventurers lead by Walter and his son Kyril encounter Snowe and his companion. Snowe tells Walter about the shadowy monster and offers to guide the adventurers to the area where it was headed. Without giving too much away, the adventurers find out that the monster used to be a man and head off to find out exactly what happened to him and how rune cannons are involved.

As far as combat goes, at first glance it seems to use a fairly standard TRPG system, but there is a lot more substance to it. The battlefield is grid based, and attacks from the rear and sides do more damage. Just hitting an enemy will award experience, but killing it will give a lot more. One praiseworthy item is that a decent amount of experience will be awarded if a character heals another with low hit points. Healers tend to get the short end of the stick in a lot of TRPGs; this is not the case with Suikoden Tactics. When selecting a character and picking the move command, icons will appear over characters’ heads depending on where you place the cursor. Such icons vary from sweat drops over an enemy’s head when you are about to move next to it, to a halo and wings if you move behind them. The halo indicates that they will most likely die if attacked from that spot. This gives the player a good idea about how to plan their next move and adds a nice layer of strategy to the game. There is also the talk icon which appears over friendly units heads when you are about to place certain units next to each other. Talking to a character will trigger a short dialogue scene which will reveal personal details between the characters as well as raise the amount of “good will” between them. The more “good will” that characters have with each other, the greater the chance that they will assist each other in attacks, as well as throw themselves in front of the other when they are about to be dealt a fatal blow.

Suikoden Tactics brings something semi-unique to the TRPG genre: Terrain Elements. If a lighting spell is cast upon the ground, then that spot would change into a lightning element square. All characters have their own element, and if a character with the lightning element were to stand on a lightning square, they would be healed a small amount. However, if a character with the opposite element were to stand on that same lightning square, they would receive an equal amount of damage. Expect to spend a lot of time casting spells and using items to give your characters an elemental advantage over their foes.

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