Suikoden fans are some of the most vocal and temperamental fans out there. I kind of understand their frustrations, given some of the ups and downs the series has experienced throughout its existence. 2009 marked a particularly auspicious year for that role-playing franchise, as Suikoden Tierkreis was released, accompanied by a fair amount of critical and (surprisingly) commercial success. Jonesing for a good Nintendo DS RPG at the time, I looked to snatch up Tierkreis as a quick little picker-upper game, knowing that I’d enjoy it quite a bit seeing as I loved the first two Suikoden games.
What caught me off-guard was the staggering amount of backlash the game received for—allegedly—failing to capture the “Suikoden feel,” whatever that means. Talking to long-time fans of the series, it was clear that there was much hatred and vitriol towards this unassuming little sidestory.
That hate is manifest the first few hours into Tierkreis. In place of the mostly-memorable character designs from previous games are annoying Anime tykes; in fact the character design across the board is as generic and pedestrian as you can get. Thanks to space constraints, most of the voice actors sound like they’re trying out for a bad Speed Racer episode. Still, Tierkreis rewards those who look beyond these petty anomalies.
Flawed as it may be, the game somehow kept me compelled for the better number of fifty-plus hours, a rare feat nowadays. For what it’s worth, I really felt that Tierkreis keeps the series’ most important defining trait: the epic sense of scale; that ever-present feeling that you’re against something much, much bigger than you or your ragtag group. I’m not sure what the correct videogame-related term is, but if Tierkreis was a book, I’d call it a page-turner.
Definitely one game that didn’t deserve the bad rap it got all year.
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