Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nintendo Power, December 2008

The cover is Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii, but, as far as I'm concerned, the feature story is Suikoden: Tierkreis for the DS.

The Suikoden series remains a favorite of mine on the strength of the first three titles, but I don't think any game franchise has suffered as drastically from the departure of a single man from the development team. In Suikoden's case, that man was series creator Yoshitaka Murayama, who left Konami under shady circumstances near the end of Suikoden III's development. The post-Murayama titles have been decent, but "decent" is a far cry from the heights reached by the first three titles.

Based on this month's preview, Tierkreis sounds like a desperate attempt to restore the series to relevance in a JRPG pool overflowing with indistinguishably banal titles. Apparently looking to make a fresh start, this latest installment is set around parallel worlds and will not be reusing any previous characters or locations, effectively discarding five titles' (and multiple side stories') worth of painstakingly-crafted history and geography. With Murayama gone, it was unlikely that we would ever have gotten real resolutions to the lingering threads established in the first three games anyway--hence, I suspect, why IV and V were both prequels--but the attention to continuity was nonetheless a trademark of the series and one of its most appealing aspects.

With the original creator gone and his mythology now left behind, I'm not sure how much this leaves to tie Tierkreis to the titles that I loved, but I remain optimistic that it can be a quality game in its own right, one which hopefully will retain at least the spirit and sophistication of the earlier installments. Besides, the "parallel worlds" concept still leaves room for it to somehow work its way into the old continuity. In any case, I'll be there to buy the game as soon as it releases, at which point it will shift to the top of my play pile.


Czardoz said...

Uh, yes, "buy the game." Ahem.

Czardoz said...

"that man was series creator Yoshitaka Murayama, who left Konami under shady circumstances near the end of Suikoden III's development"

Better than having your long-time wunderkind and genius die under shady circumstances after his development of a royal stinkbomb of a white elephant system. (Gunpei)

Better than having your infirm visionary vanish (probably die) under shady circumstances after laying a couple of rotten eggs that 1) reeked like a malformed doppelganger of a classic (FFTA), and 2) harvested the groaning complexity and epic milieu of his former games, but none of the fun. (Yasumi)