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Image credit: Eurogamer

Suikoden (1995)

  • Gamepage
  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami

Where did role-playing gaming begin on the PlayStation? The obvious answers are Arc the Lad, Sony's in-house developed franchise which provided the first true JRPG for the system back in late 1994; and Final Fantasy VII, which stepped up the graphical expectations of the genre into an entirely new realm, almost single-handedly creating an international audience at the same time.

For many, however, PlayStation's reputation as a role-playing powerhouse begins in 1995, with the origins of Konami's much-cherished Suikoden series. Taking its inspiration from a classic Chinese novel, the story follows the journey of a young man who must pursue peace by recruiting 108 warriors (the Stars of Destiny), building up an army and a castle base, and taking on the warlords who threaten the people of the land.

The game still looks wonderful, thanks to a decision to stick almost entirely to 2D graphics, with only the small-scale battle screens using any 3D effects for the landscapes. A second battle system, which sees entire armies engaging with one another (the player simply issues tactical commands along a rock-paper-scissors system), is entirely 2D. The subplots involving each Star of Destiny make for great storytelling and puzzle solving elements, and the game as a whole remains one of the best loved (if sadly little known) RPGs of the era.

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