Suikoden Tierkreis: Left Me Starstruck

By Jenni . April 29, 2009 . 12:49pm

Suikoden Tierkreis is a fairly well executed, engaging and promising portable RPG. It has practically everything a player could want. The atmosphere and presense of the DS version may not have the same epic effect as the console Suikoden entries, but it is still a very good RPG.

 

Suikoden Tierkreis begins in tiny, independent Citro Village. A group of teenagers, made up of the hero and his friends Liu, Marica and Jale, act as the Defense Force for the town. Their teacher Dirk, who’s really more like an older brother to them, is taking them out to hunt some Laggarts that are causing trouble in the area. They don’t find any, or the Laggarts nest. They’re about to backtrack, when suddenly, a plains/field area disappears and a forest with ruins appears!

 

The hero seems to know something isn’t quite right, but everyone else believes that the forest and ruins were always there. The group then decides to check the ruins for the Laggart nest. Inside, they find incredibly strong skull monsters. Trapped, they run to look for another exit. Instead, the group finds a mysterious book. When the hero, Marica and Jale touch it, the receive Marks of the Stars and mysterious powers. They then defeat the monsters with no problem, and all three remember that the forest and ruins weren’t always there.

 

The story then goes on to what seems to be your classic save the world scenario. A cult-like movement called The Order of the One True Way is trying to overwhelm the world, and claims that the future is predetermined. The hero joins the fight to help keep the Order from forcefully expanding its territory and influence around the world.

 

One of the most interesting aspects of Suikoden Tierkreis is the idea of the Infinity. The game asserts that there are multiple, parallel world and it is typical for people to travel between them. This means that Marica’s double shows up during the story, as do other unique characters. It also provides the foundation for the game’s Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. If you connect to Wi-Fi to send or borrow a character, you’re simply hosting a visitor from a parallel world. It’s also interesting how the Infinity factors into the main storyline.

 

The 108 Stars theme returns, though in Suikoden Tierkreis they are referred to as Star-Bearers and not Stars of Destiny. Part of the goal of the game is to recruit all of them. If you succeed, you get a bonus tacked on to the good ending.

 

I loved how battles worked in the DS game. Four characters take part in battle. You arrange them on a grid, where three could be in front or back, before battle begins. You then proceed in a normal turn based battle, using Star Marks, Unite attacks as needed. The Auto Battle feature returns, which saves a lot of time.

 

The Support Character system is where battles really shine, and I hope the next entry in the main Suikoden line uses some variation of it. You get to have one support character in your party, who adds a special ability to the battle. For example: Gadburg adds the Spark command that kills all weak enemies, Erin heals one person’s HP and Sotah gives extra EXP. The Spark command is easily my favorite part of the game, as it makes leveling up characters or traversing familiar areas a breeze.

 

The story is surprisingly meaty as well, which was a nice surprise. I expected a more standard and predictable “teenage kids save the world,” not what actually panned out. It ends up more supernatural and fantasy-based than the typical Suikoden games, which surprised me initially.

 

While it definitely doesn’t feel like member of the established Suikoden series, I found myself drawing parallels between Suikoden Tierkreis and the original Suikoden. Specifically, in regards to the characters. I couldn’t help comparing Tir McDohl, Cleo, Pahn, Ted and Gremio to the main character, Jale, Marica, Liu and Dirk.

 

There are a few quirks, but they’re really more annoying than anything. The top screen is largely useless. In battle it’s handy, since it displays your character statistics, but it doesn’t offer any assistance at all other times. Personally, I wish that it displayed mini-maps for locations.

 

It’s also quite annoying that you have to waste an item slot equipping an item that allows you to run faster on the world map. Even worse is the fact that you don’t get this item until you’ve reached the Coastal Caves, and it is easily missed if you don’t enjoy dungeon crawling.

 

The most grievous of all annoyances is the voice acting. The casting is well done for the most part, the problem is in the delivery. Many characters, especially the main character sound rushed. At times, the hero will be talking so fast that the words are undecipherable. It’s commendable that Suikoden Tierkreis contains so much voice acting, but if you aren’t going to do it right, then perhaps don’t do it at all.

 

As long as you don’t get fanatical about what defines a Suikoden game, Suikoden Tierkreis is a wonderful addition to the DS RPG line-up. It has a good story, an addicting collection aspect and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection elements that actually work. It may not be a perfect portable Suikoden, but it comes very close for a spin-off.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. Some sort of warping device would have been nice, so you could instantly leave a map area rather than trek back and forth until you find an exit.

 

2. The passage of time in the game helps make recruiting a bit more challenging and interesting. Certain characters only appear during certain seasons.

 

3. I like that many characters aren’t restricted to one weapon. It helps make party configurations easier.

 

4. There are some decent twists in the story. For example, I was positive one of the initial Citro Village characters was going to be a villain and betray the group, but it turned out I was wrong. (I blame the character art – they made him look so devious!)

 

5. I’d recommend finding and printing out a Recruitment guide. There are quite a few characters you can miss and never even meet, if you aren’t careful.

 

6. Monsters and enemies can be weak or strong against certain kinds of weapons (slashing, striking or piercing), but it didn’t seem to make much difference when I was playing.


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  • http://thestoppableforce.net/ stoppableforce

    #4: Was it the one who was super-shady all the time about their background and how they knew certain things about the Marks of the Stars?

    • Mazen

      I bet she means that one :)

      • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

        Yup, it was. :D

    • ReturnOfSomeDude

      I, personally, don’t see how you would ever think any of those 4 would be a villain, considering it shows the 4 Citro Village characters fighting the main bad guy together in the opening “dream” sequence…

      I found the characters to be quite dry and boring, but to each their own.

      • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

        I did think that one was, but perhaps maybe a temporary villain thing.

  • Mazen

    Great review I still say (after beating the game) in an enjoyment level and without taking similarity between Suikodens into consideration this is my third most enjoyable Suikoden after 5 and 2, very excellent DS RPG.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      It is a very good RPG for the DS. It has some quirks, but all games do. I’d recommend it to friends.

  • EvilAkito

    I’m sad to admit that I haven’t gotten any further in this game since, well, naming my castle. The point I’m at now is just so boring. I trust that it gets better, but my motivation isn’t there. And as much as I try to be open-minded, I really wish this game were more like Suikoden 1, 2, and 5. To me, those are the “pure” Suikoden games that encompass everything I love about the series. 3, 4, and Tierkreis feel like lesser games to me due to how much they deviate from the formula. I know, I’m a snob.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      I think its more that you’ve found an aspect of the series you love, and want to relish games that follow that ideal. I don’t think that’s being a snob at all.

      I definitely agree with your grouping – I always considered 1, 2 and 5 to be in one catagory and 3 and 4 to be in another. :D

  • ObsidianTK

    “6. Monsters and enemies can be weak or strong against certain kinds of weapons (slashing, striking or piercing), but it didn’t seem to make much difference when I was playing.”

    Yeah, once I discovered that people can equip TWO one-handed swords, there pretty much was no reason to ever use any other weapon types, save on mages.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      I totally agree! I think I discovered that once Chrodechild and co. joined. When I saw some characters could use two swords at once, they became my go-to people.

  • ReturnOfSomeDude

    Here’s my 2 cents:

    This is one horrible looking game. If you’re a DS developer, PLEASE just stick to sprites. The hardware’s never going to get better. This isn’t like the early 90s with PC gaming, you don’t have to try and push the envelope because this is the best you can do, and it looks awful. People’s eyes and faces just get horribly jaggy when in combat, and it just looks unforgivably ugly.

    The is one horribly acted game. If you’re a North American DS publisher, you get what you pay for when it comes to voice acting. You want to use the cheapest Canadian studio you can find, and only fork out enough cash for 6 actors? Well, then you get this game.

    Leaving out those two concerns, this could have been a much better game had they just worked on the writing. At several points, the localization literally made me stop to double-check and make sure I’d honestly just read what I thought I read. The story itself isn’t that great, but when you saddle it with awkward localization and bad voice acting, it’s just aggravating.

    All tolled, this goes down as my 3rd least favorite Suikoden:

    Suikoden II
    Suikoden III
    Suikoden V
    Suikoden I
    Suikoden Card Stories
    Suikoden Tierkreis
    *Huge Gap of Quality*
    Suikoden IV
    *Smaller Gap of Quality*
    Suikoden Tactics

    • http://www.nisamerica.com NickyD

      The gameplay in Suikoden Tactics was pretty solid, despite the story being well beyond craptastic, so it’s above Tierkreis in my list. While the games usually sacrifice gameplay for story, Tactics did the opposite and made it pretty darn fun. I never played Card Stories, but overall, I think you have the most common/accurate list of Suikoden awesomeness out there.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      I still did enjoy the game, even though it had quirks to it.

      I also agree with NickyD – I don’t think Suikoden Tactics was all that bad. I liked it better than Suikoden IV.

      Even though some of the Suikodens may fall short, I still consider it an awesome RPG series and have found something to love about each entry in the series.

  • http://twitter.com/nameoftheyear Elliot T.

    I give the game a sort of benefit-of-the-doubt like you did, and in not holding it up to more stellar Suikoden main series standards I can appreciate what this huge handheld RPG sets out to do. But I think the gameplay gets pretty grating pretty quick. The battle system is paper thin; grinding trade houses for money is not at all fun; many of the missions are starting to feel like the same thing; even character recruitment becomes so impossibly arbitrary that I don’t know how I’d trigger half these guys without a walkthrough.

    I’m a good 40 hours in, just after finishing everything in the desert section, and I feel like I saw everything this game has to offer about 20 hours ago… I do want to see this through just for the satisfaction of having all 108 Stars, but it sounds like such a slog to me that I don’t imagine picking up this game again for another few months. Oh well.

    • ReturnOfSomeDude

      I’m not sure why the people in charge of Suikoden always find the need to put in some sort of trading mechanic, but never actually implement an economy.

      Nations don’t just buy infinite amounts of black pepper at 10 gold higher than the neighboring country. You keep selling a ton of black pepper to a country, all of sudden, it starts selling for lower. Implement an economy. You’ve had plenty of time to figure out how to do it.

      • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

        Very true. I only did the trading parts in Suikoden games where you “had” to do it to recruit a character. In the DS version I just stop by to sell battle spoils.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      I’m at the exact point you are Scypher. I just finished the desert and took a break to do some recruiting. Then I got distracted by Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. :P I’ll probably return to Suikoden DS next week.

      I have my stars guide at my side while I play, along with a pen. It’s now half covered in pen marks as I tick off which characters I’ve found and which segments for other characters’ recruiting processes I’ve done.

  • Zuga

    I liked this game a lot, but…………Agreed, if you can’t do the voice acting right, just don’t do it at all! I would have forked out an extra $10 for the option to mute the voices in this game.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      I wonder how big the DS card is. If it isn’t on the largest size, I’d say upgrade and include the Japanese voices as an option as well. :P

  • Mazen

    Voice acting can be super cheap and yet 30 voice actors contribute to the game, voice acting studio works in several projects at the same time and can afford to let different people spend some time with various projects I heard more than six different voices in the game,
    also while nearly all Suikoden fans will agree that this game is worse than Suikoden 1,2 I felt the writing and translation in this game is much more advanced than these old games RPGs translation were mostly bad in the PSX days,

    also the voice actors are talking fast because of the memory restriction not because of bad acting, even thought I don’t like any kind of voice acting.

    • ReturnOfSomeDude

      Mazen: If the voice actors are talking fast because of memory restrictions, why is Jale speaking 50% slower than everyone else?

      It makes conversations sound like:

      Micro Machines Guy: “Oh no we’ve gotta save the town, what are we going to do?”
      Eeyore: “I don’t know, Pooh. I’m just movin’ along…”

      And if this is actually the case of speeding up the files to save on space, what a smart publisher would do, is either remove some of the voice acting, seeing as how the game was only partially voice acted to begin with, or reduce the quality on the files to fit everything. (Because speeding them up IS basically reducing the quality.)

      • Mazen

        I think everyone agree this game have an extraordinary amount of voice acting for a DS game, it have the most voice acting I’ve seen in ads game so far, adding to that so many anime cuteness and its only 256 mega,
        now if they want to speed the voices so these voices have less recording time they have to choose a character and a certain voice actor they cant let every character randomly talk fast it will even miss the story (imagine they are talking about something in the castle and a usualy calm character suddenly talked fast it will seem like something happened)

        so I think and believe they choosed the hero because he is in every cutscene to the end so they made him have a fast talking character talking fast all the time so his voice actor got used to talk fast the same for other fast talking character.

        Now IMO voice acting is not important but I think they went with trouble of doing voice acting because they believe its selling point and many people want it.

        I just remembered that some people didn’t want to play Skies of Arcadia because it didn’t have voice acting that was years ago it made sad since I loved that game so much.

        • ReturnOfSomeDude

          None of what you said actually addressed any of what I said.

          Either they should have cut some voice acting, so that the ACTING is there, (because as it is now, it’s just voice, no acting.) or they should have dropped the sound quality of the files so they all fit within the memory requirements. Or some combination of the two.

          Disgaea DS and both of the Luminous Arcs have a ton of voice acting in it, and nobody sounded as bad as the Tierkreis guys do. Nobody’s tried to speed up the voice files, because every other publisher out there knows it’s a bad idea.

          • Mazen

            I addressed your first question and many points,
            and about reducing the quality am not the developer but maybe they think reducing the quality will be more obvious to the casuals as a low quality cheap thing, than speeding up the voices,
            they should have removed all voice acting it was not necessarily, at its state right now I notice it just bring criticism to the game.

        • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

          That is true, it has a lot of voice acting for a DS game and deserves some kudos for that. And you’re probably right in your reasoning for the main character talking like he’s a Red Bull addict. (Maybe they thought it would help add to his impulse personality as well.)

          I’ve never played the original Skies of Arcadia, but I did recently pick up a used copy of Skies of Arcadia Legends. :D

          • Mazen

            I really recommend playing Skies of Arcadia and giving it enough chance, its my most favorite game ever, its the game that when I remember it makes me want keep playing games forever, I think its the reason I still play games as much as I am today and I still I didn’t find a game I like as much as that one.

          • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

            I’ll have to keep an eye open at GameStops for a PS2 copy. I really enjoy the GC one

          • Mazen

            If you played the GC one to the end then no need to get DC one its nearly the same game, they downgraded the GC version music a little because it didn’t fit fully in one mini DVD compared to the DC version 2 GDs thats what the producer Rieko Kodama said (BTW they call her first lady of RPGs in Japan after all she made the Phantasy Star series and her team recently made Valkyria Chronicles.) ,

            unfortunately they canceled SOA PS2 version.
            really glad that you enjoyed it..

      • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

        ReturnOfSomeDude, your analysis of the conversations is absolutely awesome. It made me giggle.

        I’d have to agree. I record my CDs onto my computer in the lowest possible quality to get as many songs possible onto my iPod. The same could be done for games.

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