There are few franchises looked at more fondly by me than Suikoden. The original is widely regarded as a cult favorite, and its sequel as the game that cemented it as a true classic among RPG's. While 3 and 4 had its fans (I truly enjoyed 4), it wasn't until the 5th entry that it seemed to get back into fans and critics good graces. Suikoden 5 was wonderful, and in my mind is truly underrated. Since the adventures of George and the Prince, there have been no true sequels, only a 3DS version that, aside from a few tips of the hat, is pretty much regarded as its own separate thing. That title wasn't received very well by the fan base, and since then the franchise has been dormant.
Well, its time to put Hero (insert your own name here) back to work!
I've been itching to comb the world over for all 108 stars again, and I think others are as well. While there wasn't a new entry announced at E3 this year, that shouldn't stop us from hoping. With that in mind, here is my pitch for Suikoden 6.
Don't Forget What Got You Here
The series has been successful for its unique blend of political intrigue, creative characters, fortress building, finding all 108 stars, and making you truly feel like you're commanding an army or uniting a kingdom. Suikoden's combat has also been a highlight (depending on the entry), and normally comes with at least 3 different types of combat, each one bringing a unique style that keeps things from getting too monotonous, and in a 30 to 40 hour RPG that can happen quite often. Oh, and did I say fortress building?
Everybody wants a batcave.
The early Suikoden games were straight up sprite based affairs, and were full of color and charm. Things got sticky though when Konami switched to 3D. Suikoden 3 was pretty bland in its models and its palette, and while 4 was better, it still paled in comparison to what the other RPGs of the time were offering. I'm not a graphics snob by any means, but you at least need to be competitive graphically or at least have an art style that makes you stand out, of which neither 3 or 4 had. With 5 the style was classic and well done, and while the polygon count wouldn't rival a square product, the charm and color was back, so its hard to complain. If Konami wants Suikoden 6 to succeed, it wouldn't hurt to throw some money at its graphics. I would love to finally have my cake and eat it too.
108 Stars Of Individuality
Whether you loved him or loathed him, you damn sure remember Schtolteheim Reinbach the III. Sure there are filler characters in every game, but with the sheer number available you are bound to find a few you gravitate towards, and at least for me the memorable outnumber the average. That said, Suikoden 3 had more average than stellar, but that game as a whole was kind of unmemorable so my point still stands.
Make Your Own Batcave
One of the perks of recruiting all those stars throughout the game is having an HQ to put them all in, and its one of the best perks in the game. Not sure how many hours I wasted after every mission speaking to just about everybody in my headquarters, waiting for that tiny bit of new insight into their characters (except for Rita, because no one wants to play that damn game). That said, I would love Suikoden VI to take that the extra step, and let you craft your own. Most of the HQ's have been nicely designed and perfectly adequate (Suikoden IV's ship is one of my favorites), but I'm all for customization. I want a Batcave, or in honor of Man of Steel, my own Fortress of Solitude. So here's my proposal: Even if you don't let me build it block by block, have one of the 108 stars be an architect. Then have 1 or 2 stars be merchants or builders of different resources. Once I have those, let me pick from several options and layouts for my home base, and then let me name it. Throughout the game I could find different maps and schematics that let me build spaces and optional add-ons, allowing it to grow with me throughout the game and giving me a reason to go out to different areas and grind. I'm a grinder by nature, but it would be nice to have another reason besides extra XP. While I can't build it from scratch, at least I have some choice in the matter. That won't please everyone, but it's a good start in the right direction.
Turn Based Combat to the Core
While some of the entries have played around with the style of combat, Suikoden is at its best with a classic turn based 6 party member system. While I love the idea of mounts (as experimented with in Suikoden 3), it didn't seem to benefit you much. If that could be tinkered with to some degree I would love to see that make a return. Another wonderful feature is the various formations you could use in 5, as you had various benefits and advantages in battle if you just took a minute to think it out. While Suikoden Tactics toyed with a slightly different variation on the combat, the one standout from that title was the relationship building it brought to combat. Having team members fight together over and over again granted them bonuses as a sort of comradery enhancement. It added a nice bit of depth to the usual combat proceedings, and I would like to see that feature make a return. As for the core combat, I suggest not fixing what isn't broken, and just enhancing the solid combat of 5.
Well, that's my pitch! Like to see any features I left out? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @KnightofOA.