How Suikoden Influenced Deus Ex And Epic Mickey

By Ishaan . November 10, 2012 . 3:00pm

Deus Ex and Epic Mickey creator, Warren Spector, has been influenced over the years by a Japanese RPG series whose name doesn’t come up all that often anymore—Suikoden. Speaking with Pixelitis, Spector recently shared that the Suikoden series’ influence on him goes as far back as the very first Deus Ex game.


“Without going into too much geeky detail, there are two moments in Suikoden where you are confronted with a choice,” Spector recalls. “You are in the game world, and then a little box shows up in the corner that gives you a Yes/No choice. It’s ‘Do you leave your friend here to die or do you help him?’ And then at the end there is a ‘Do you fight your father? Yes/No.’ And, the thing was, in both cases it was a false choice.”


“But I remember how powerful it was,” Spector continues. “I remember playing Suikoden, putting the controller down and going ‘Holy Cow, this has nothing to do with what the character would do, or the story, it’s who am I as a human being? Me? If that was a real choice, it would be the most amazing moment in the history of videogames, and I said ‘I’m going to make a game that has the most amazing moment in the history of videogames!’”


Spector is an outspoken advocate of player choice in videogames, which is something he constantly says he wants to express through the Epic Mickey games as well. In fact, the Suikoden influence carries over into the upcoming Epic Mickey: The Power of Illusion on the Nintendo 3DS as well, although in a different way.


“There’s also a fortress mode [in Power of Illusion],” Spector shared. “I’ve wanted to do this in every game I’ve done since I’ve played—there’s a game called Suikoden many years ago on the PS1, and I have written a customizable fortress into every design document I’ve worked on since then, and I’ve [had to] cut it from [each one] I’ve written since then. This time, it didn’t get cut.”


In the Suikoden games, you’re usually housed within a castle of some sort. Over the course of the game, as you recruit more of the game’s characters to join you, your army grows along with the activity in your castle.

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  • DDanny

    Pity JRPGs are so fond of false choices
    Do you want to join forces with the bad guy?
    Heroine: B-but hero!!! We can’t do that!!!
    Heroine: B-but hero!!! We can’t do that!!!
    Heroine: B-but hero!!! We can’t do that!!!
    Heroine:That’s right!!! We would never join a guy like you!!!
    Sheesh, at least don’t bother if you are going to force me

    • Grenalie

      But thou must!

    • Valkenhayn

      Baten Kaitos EW&LO and Radiata stories……

      • DDanny

        I know there are a very select few JRPGs with nice choice & consequence, but most are still fond of false choices or just plain give you options that don’t change anything at all besides a tiny dialogue line. 
        If anyone also likes this kind of game, I highly suggest playing Der Langrisser for SNES, one of the best examples of C&C I’ve seen in JRPGs, you can be the good guy, the bad guy, join with an empire bent on world conquest and even crush everyone under your own rule. And the best part is that the other characters actually react to your choices.

        • Morricane

          Langrisser Dramatic Edition on Saturn is the best version though…too bad that one never got translated.

          • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

            Ohhh. The father of Growlancer. Man i feel old now.T_T

      •  …And Nocturne and Persona and Devil Survivor and Chrono Trigger and…


        • JazzWithAttitude

          Devil Survivor and Nocturne don’t have false choices,they really change the flow of the game, and Persona focus more on the protagonist personality instead of changing the story…it’s ALMOST false choices

          • Oh, but I think you misunderstood me. I actually was saying that these games DO feature actual choices, as in, your decisions actually alter the course of the game.

            It was a continuation of the reply I was replying to (lol, replyception), which indicated that there are a great deal of jrpgs that feature gamebreaking, story altering, actual decisions. Like the ones Valkenhayn mentioned and the ones I mentioned.

            EDIT: Actually Persona features more than character altering decisions. Persona 3 asks you to make this HUGE decision that definitely paves the way for two different endings and situations. You prolly know what I mean very well, given the avatar you are currently using :3

          • JazzWithAttitude

            Oh my bad xD , but in Persona 3 depending your choice in that moment the game just end there, and in nocturne and devil survivor you have choices at a lots of points in the game,not just one like in P3(or 2 in P4)

      • What game-altering choices did Baten Kaitos have? You could make decisions that affected your characters’ trust level in you, but as far as I know that only impacted the special attacks that were available to those characters in battle, not the actual course of the story.

    • Chrono Cross has some real-ish choices. There are multiple mutually exclusive story paths at several points at several points in the game, and your choices also permanently affect which characters will join your party (you can even refuse to let one of the main characters join you until very late in the game, which will let you get other characters that would otherwise be unavailable as a result).

    • Hidayat246

      remember me about one stupid question in secret mana

  • $30632660

    Such a shame that the entire Deus Ex series is full of false choices and illusions of freedom.

  • Godmars

    How about this news influencing a new Suikoden game?

  • kylehyde

    Certainly I feel the reminiscence to the suikoden fortress, with sidequest and with the possibility of expand the fortress or improving how it looks. The demo has a lot of sidequest that expanded a lot the gameplay.

    Also, is notorious the influence of Henry Hatsworth, after you drawn something with good and perfect score, your paint shoots become stronger during a limited time, and your movement becomes faster and is more easy to execute combos on the enemies.

    I can’t wait to play the complete game.

  • Belphegor

    I’ve always loved the ‘Base’ system of the Suikoden series. That moment when you enter the base and you know that things have changed and that new sense of exploration each time it does. I think the mechanism in Suikoden V was my favourite of the series but that’s just down to personal preference. Its also because of this that Suikoden is one of the few games that I’ve actively searched out characters/NPCs multiple times to hear the changing dialogue throughout the game.

  • God, I really need to play Suikoden. I’ve got Suikoden 1 on my PS3… No Suikoden 2, while everyone says it’s like the most greatest JRPG ever, standing above or alongside FF7, Chrono Trigger, Xenoblade Chronicles, Radiant Historia, Dragon Quest IX, The World Ends With You, Persona 3, Persona 4, et cetera.

    It’s a pity that buying Suikoden 2 on internet is like burning a hole inside your wallet. I really, really hope Konami will consider bring Suikoden 2 to the PS3. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t or shouldn’t do it because there’s apparently a lot of demand for the game and throughout the years all the potential buyers have been slowly diminished by buying the game expensively from others — money that could go to Konami.

    • Crimson_Cloud

      You should get Suikoden 2 now. No really, I mean… like this very second. No amount of money can ”describe” the epicness of one of the most unique games in history of gaming.

      Anyway… New Suikoden. On the big screen. No more wait.

      • Found a Suikoden II for something around 80 Euros. It’s pretty much a steal, but… I don’t have much money lately. Well, I’ve got the money, but there are still many games coming and who knows, Konami might re-release it someday and I’ll just have this pain in my stomach then, like ‘ALL THAT MONEY!!! GONE!!’

        I guess I’ll just use the dark side of gaming *cough*emulator*cough*. And hey, still got Suikoden I to play.

        But okay, tell me, aren’t there any other JRPGs that are as good (or better) as Suikoden II. Tales of the Abyss? Persona 3? Tales of Symphonia? Radiant Historia? Xenoblade Chronicles? Just curious. I’m really interested why people are so ‘OMG’ about Suikoden games, especially the first two ones.

        • Zeik56

          I consider Suikoden 2 my favorite RPG of all time (if not my favorite game of all time) but I don’t think I could ever argue it is unequivocally the best RPG of all time, since it’s not a perfect game. Not to mention what people look for in a “great” RPG is very subjective.

          Of the games you listed I would personally only put P3 and Xenoblade in the same league, but those two are still pretty different RPGs from Suikoden (especially P3), and others may consider the Tales series superior simply for the fact that they’re action RPGs.

          Nostalgia is certainly a factor in why I and others hold those games in especially high regard, but there is still something inherently special about these games, and Suikoden 2 is simply the game that did it all best. That being said, I would at least play Suikoden 1 before throwing down 80 euros on 2. 2 is a better game, but if you don’t enjoy 1 at all then 2 probably isn’t going to be worth that much to you.

          •  I actually mentioned Symphonia due to its critical acclaim and storytelling while the same goes for Tales of the Abyss, but it’s also known as the darkest story of the Tales franchise, having the most depth and all.
            Persona 3 and Xenoblade are also known for their depth, story-telling and what not. Many reviewers were psyched about Radiant Historia for being a next generation Chrono Trigger, but I digress.
            I’ll play Suikoden 1 first (after finishing Graces F, Persona 3 FES, The Last Story, Xenogears <– Or I may play it after Persona 3 FES already).
            I don't think that action RPGs are necessarily superior. It's just that a lot of turn-based RPGs have random encounters which are VERY frequent and it's mostly a grindfest (I didn't mind grinding in Persona 3, though. But I guess it was due to playing on Easy Mode and… it just worked, that's what I'm saying).

            Anyway, I hope I'll be not disappointed because I've gotten high expectations for the Suikoden games (especially the first two) due to all the praise and all (though, many people on the internet hate Suikoden IV and Tierkreis apparently).

        • Lightthrower

          Play through Suikoden 1 first and get the 108 stars. Use that save in Suikoden 2 for a secret awesome bonus :-).

        • You don’t need to emulate the first game. Just buy it on the PSN. It should be about $6 in the US.

          • ‘God, I really need to play Suikoden. I’ve got Suikoden 1 on my PS3…’ <– my first comment.
            Yeah, I got it! Haven't played it yet, but it's on my list!

    • Hidayat246

      play SUIKODEN 1 first after that u can play SUIKODEN 2

      because u have bonus in suikoden 2 if u have save data from suikoden 1

  • bill

    I Love the Suikoden series!

    also it’s nice that people still know what Suikoden is.

  • revenent hell

    Im by no means a disney fan so ive never played an epic micky game but I realy enjoy how people tell about what games have influenced theirs. Its realy cool to read about what has influenced someone and how it impacts their creations  and why it did so.Its those defining moments in gameing that can create something special in another.

  • MrTyrant

    I remember Suikoden like game with a very unique flow of events, different kind of battles even the ones to re-take a base/castle were strategically amazing. Sometimes it was like a strategy game with a lot of troops, once your army win you enter the city and that moment was like a normal RPG with random battles but then suddenly something happen and you were force to deal 1 vs 1 againts some bosses. Also remember the story, some dialogues were powerful, some villains were amazing and some choice had a tragic end like Suikoden 2 in its normal end that was really sad. Don’t forget the music, one of the best soundtracks in JRPG ever are from those first two Suikodens.

    • Kai2591

      I’ve never played Suikoden, but from your description the game mechanics sound really nice :)

      I wish JRPGs nowadays were like that :(
      or as innovative and creative, at least.

  • If there’s one of the things I loved about Suikoden, it touches upon real life aspects of degeneration and chaos wrought about by corrupt politics and government— To which the constituents, whom a leader is supposed to serve would be the one greatly affected in the end.

  • Hours

    So can we have another canon Suikoden now please?

    • progressivelibertarian

      No, Konami would fuck it up without the original creator.

  • EugeneHix

    Long live Suikoden!!!

  • As much as I’m sure Spector is doing the interview circuit to promote his new Mickey game, his comments mostly just got me thinking, “Man, I could really go for a new Suikoden game right about now.”

  • Syltique

    Specter said the same things before Epic Mickey came out.  I kind of wish he’d move on from that and try to find the next new thing.  

    Player choice was genuinely interesting around the end of last gen, and the very beginning of this one.  But now, it’s almost cliche’.  It gets crammed into a lot of games that really don’t benefit from it being there, like say, Infamous.  “Do you want to save the hostages, or do you feel like drop-kicking a kitten?  You decide!”  

    Bioware’s famous choice segments also now feel tacked on and irrelevant.  The only time that I thought they nailed it was in KOTOR.  It makes sense in the Star Wars universe for a Jedi to be heavily grappling with the tension between the light and dark side of the force.  It makes sense that the choices you make actually impact your power level on either side, because that’s actually how the force has always worked.  Compare it to Mass Effect where the only real choice is between being good, and being an asshole.  Shepard still saves the day, but he’s either nice while doing it, or an unnecessarily aggressive shithead.  It doesn’t really make much sense to measure your choices on a sliding morality graph in that context, and to apply power boosts for one side or the other. Bioware should have left that system in KOTOR, but instead they copy and pasted it to every other game they’ve made; and it felt like filler in every one.

    Choice has become boring.  It’s narrative grinding.  Play the entire game a second time so you can see the 2 minutes of alternate footage after your choice.  It’s an excuse for game designers to forget about pacing, gameplay, story, and level design because they can just cram it full of filler and call it progressive.

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      I agree with all of this but you see how many current gamers complained about Jrpg that does not provide you any choice. They said they wanted freedom rather than being guide in a straight line.T_T

      • Morricane

        …but they never were the audience for japanese-style RPGs to begin with, else they wouldn’t complain :)

        • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

          Well, you do know that gamers nowadays will still complain as they feel entitled for everything.T_T

        • progressivelibertarian

           Seriosuly I blame FFVII for this. It was such a damn good game that it brought JRPGs to mass appeal. Since then everyone has been trying to reinvent the JRPG to appeal to the mainstream western gamers whose appreciation of FFVII made it such a success. This means combat has to be more action oriented, and there has to be more player choice (the West, and especially the US prides itself on freedom and individuality; and hollywood action flicks are widely popular; so it makes sense culturally). Problem is no one seemed to understand what this TAKES AWAY from a game.

          More action oriented combat = Less tactical/strategic combat. Action requires quick responses from the player limiting the ability to plan on a strategic level. It also makes controlling an actual party – instead of one character and the rest are AI – usually dificult or impossible.

          More player choice = Less compelling characters and a less compelling narrative. If the choices of the character are left up to the player game designers cannot craft that character’s personality, unless they are to craft 10 different personalities to fit all the different choices. Same for the plot. If the events are always variable it is much harder, almost impossible, to construct a compelling story that really draws you in, surprises you, even makes you cry. Think about it, imagine trying to craft characters like Fei or Cloud if all their in game choices were open ended. Should Aeris’ death have been dependent on in game choices? And if her death then had been preventable, would it have carried the same sense of tragedy, of loss? I think not. If you are leaving it up to the player to define the character’s actions and personality – like Western RPGs often do – you cannot at the same time craft that character to fit a certain role, you have delegated this task to the player.

          This is not to say either method of game design is better or worse. But, at least IMO, what made classic JRPGs good were strong characters, a compelling story, and building and controlling a party of different characters with different abilities. The more Western gaming values enter the equation the more these things are lost. When I play a JRPG I accept that I limit my control as a player in exchange for storytelling and character development. There is a reason JRPGs were amongst the first games to have cutscenes (thinking FFVII here), as a genre they are much more cinematic in nature. JRPGs are about discovering the narrative the designers have crafted, as one would in a novel or movie, and playing the life of different characters throughout that story. That is to say, you the player are to take on the role of the character. Western RPGs are about creating your own story, and creating your own character. Hence it is the in game character which takes the role of you. In essence they are diametrically opposed game design philosophies, not surprising then that most attempts to mix the best of both result instead in the worst of both.

          • Morricane

            Yeah…maybe I’m just too old, but I expect from RPGs the same as from novels or movies. A compelling narrative. I don’t care about “interaction”, story-wise. Or who the heck wants to read a book where you get choices which lead you to “please skip to page 137!” hahaha…?
            …or who still reads books in this day and age :/

    • CycloneFox

      Bioware (Mostly noticable in Mass Effect) took alot of features directly from Konami’s Suikoden: A headquater, that develops by recruting more charakters, the player-choices that can influence the story and also the feature to select characters next to story-requested characters, who sometimes even speak text in a main-story mission, that is hooked on the character, the player chose.
      And yes, in the quantity but not quality, Mass Effect throws choices at you, it has somehow become boring, as you said.

    • It kind of sounds like you’re railing against not so much the concept of player choice in and of itself but the horribly shallow “moral choices” that have become trendy in mainstream games this gen – even though these are only a small subset of the wider spectrum of player choice available in games (a spectrum that covers much more than the occasional “Choose Your Own Adventure”-themed quick-time event). You don’t seem like you really want less player choice in games, so much as better player choice.

      • DDanny

        Exactly, the problem is player choice is usually handled in a very poor way, just so you can advertize your game as having multiple branches and 300  endings or whatever, this is true for both western and japanese games in general. Most times it’s either horrible moral choices aka be a saint or a hellspawn, press X to get bad ending, or just having options that change 1-2 lines of dialogue and don’t actually matter at all in the story.
        Branching also really needs to happen a lot earlier, take the main megaten games for example, you have a lot of potential with the 9 alignment axis, yet what, 90% of the game still remains the same as you are fighting the same bosses and going through the same dungeons whether you’re law,chaos or neutral.

    • progressivelibertarian

      True that man, if you wanna make open ended sandboxes, fine, give me all the choices I can handle. But if you’re trying to craft a compelling narrative, stick to one story. Craft the main character with personality instead of just making him an empty avatar.

  • Solomon_Kano

    Now there’s a surprising influence considering how far away Spector’s games are. I love hearing stuff like this, I always find it really interesting.

    It’s also cool to hear that he finally got to make his fortress mode happen in the incredible-looking Castle of Illusion. A lot of times when we actually hear about features that didn’t make a game they don’t get put to use in the dev’s future work, so I’m glad that this was something Spector kept at.

  • bluegarigari

    I miss Suikoden, the original developing team should come back and make the next game

    • progressivelibertarian

      Yoshitaka Murayama no longer works for Konami. As usual the corporate lawyers keep the copyright, and the talent and genius that actually made the games can’t do anything about it. Might as well hope the Dream Team gets back together and we get another Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, or hell even just a Final Fantasy that isn’t horrible. 

  • Alfy Masamune

    The first two games in the suikdoen series are still two of my fave games and seing them get praised is awesome as they never got the attenion they deserved.

  • Kai2591

    wow, so he was really influenced by Suikoden, a Japanese game, huh? amazing…

    Well I’ve never played Suikoden so I don’t know how great it is, especially not the first 2 which sounds like the best ones in the series (though I think I tried the 4th but it didn’t catch my interest and that was a loong time ago..)

    •  Personally, the original and 2 were the best of the series had to offer. Both had that feel of nostalgia as well as that “enchanting” spirit of Suikoden that its fans are very familiar with.

      Alas, later installments in the PS2 did not much have impact as the first two games for PSOne. They were enjoyable to play, though not as strong as the first two.

      • Kai2591

         I see…thanks for the info :)

        • Scirm

          I played only Suikoden Tierkries for the DS. Don’t know if it is better or worse compared to old one, but I was enjoying it :)

          • Hidayat246

            Suikoden Tierkies is good game, but i dont like side scrolling maps like Little big planet

            i dont understand why konami not use 3d maps like FF CC – echoes of time

      • James Carney

        Did you play 5 or give up on them after 4? (if you did give up on them it;s understandable 4 was awful lol) 5 Really brought the series back to its roots, many fans including myself put it on par with 1 easily if not a little better. 2 is without a doubt the shining jewel of the series though.

        •  I played 5 as well. IMO, best of the PS2 main Suikoden games, enjoyable, but it is still eclipsed by the first and 2nd Suikodens.

    • MrTyrant

       The fourth was the worst in my book and it was very short too, compared with 30-50 hours from the other games. You were close to Suikoden V, try that game is very good, it take a looot of things from the old Suikodens and was the last game that had the old classic gameplay from the first 2 games. The story itself is pretty good and cronologically the 4th and 5th game are precuels to the first 2.

      • Kai2591

         Noted. btw do the games have voice? if so, were they in english or japanese?

        • MrTyrant

          English voices. They are not bad if you ask me but it depends on you.

        • progressivelibertarian

          The original 2 games do not have voice at all. Which I much prefer to the horrible English voice acting in most JRPGs.

    • progressivelibertarian

      The first II are def the best. The 4th was made after the series creator, writer, director, etc. left Konami. So it’s really Suikoden in name only.

  • .

    Suikoden; that brings up a lot of memories. It was like the ps1’s Shining Force for me and by the time I realized Suikoden 2 was a must find its price shot up so high on ebay it was disgusting. Glad to hear Warren Spector was influenced heavily and so positively by a game I also consider to be a classic.

    Reading the comments, I don’t like how so many here have brought up (again) JRPGS vs WRPGS. Its always the same old thing. I like both, but why is it there’s always a vocal community putting down one genre at the expense of the other? Or those that always try to compare them as if they are competing with each other directly? As a fan of JRPGS, these comments make our audience seem defensive. As a fan of WRPGS, it makes us look like arrogant youngsters putting down older JRPG classics.

    Just saying, its nearly as bad as the console wars argument (I own both the 360 and PS3)…

    • progressivelibertarian

      So glad I still have my copy of Suikoden II from middle school :)

  • Scirm

    Well Mr. Spector, there is a geek inside of ya ;)

    I love his games, Deus Ex is still one of the most memorable games, and Epic Mickey has great atmosphere and style, but it is broke because of this stupid camera movement. It was annoying, but overall, EM is a very good game, and I am happy to see different versions for both Wii U and 3DS.

  • LustEnvy

    You know you’re a fanboy if you can name all the characters on the thumbnail without a second thought…

    Suikoden II is my fave RPG of all time. I have no idea why they are taking so long releasing it on PSN. It’s so STUPID to leave Suikoden I hanging all by it’s lonesome.

    • Fer Carlo Cartagena

      Front Row- (Riou), Bob, Viktor
      Back Row- Kinnison, Clive, Kahn

  • Göran Isacson

    So while I’m sure everyone is having fun talking ’bout Suikoden, am I the only one who’s heard bad things about this demo? I’ve heard it’s REALLY clunky and has a TON of tutorial text that interrupts the gameplay at bad times, and that it feels like they took the gorgeous graphics of old-school Disney platform games and stuck in the annoying hand-holding of modern platform games. Anyone who can confirm/deny these worrying accusations?

    • J

      Well, the tutorial text is only a brief interruption to inform you the move to do, usually no more then a single frame. The intro text is pretty long and you hear a good deal of dialouge with the characters you rescue, but it seems mostly for fanservice. The platforming being clunky… it’s a bit more hit and miss. I loved it, but I guess it’s a matter of taste.

      • Göran Isacson

        I think I expressed myself in a clumsy way- when I said “clunky”, I meant that the pacing was clunky since there was apparently a lot of tutorial text that interrupted the gameplay. I suppose that the one who played the game was expecting something that was “pure platforming” like Mickey games to the old SNES and Genesis, and found the text and dialogue obtrusive. If you’re the type who’s used to it, it might be easier to handle.

        • Well, that’s true for all modern games. Back then they expected the gamer to read the manual if he really didn’t understand what to do anymore, today they mostly don’t have a manual so they put everything in turtorials that are most of the time aimed at people who never played a game before.

          • Göran Isacson

            Perhaps. I still think they could have done a tutorial stage that uses less text and more things like… small signs in the background that tells you what button to push to do this particular action, but I guess that text-boxes and such is part of modern game design that is just here to stay.

  • Jiang Ryudo

    False choices? I vaguely remember that, actually, there were two clear paths with those choices but it was dependant on your knowledge of the game. For example the ‘save the friend’ scenario can be failed or achieved depending on other game criteria (you can lose said ‘friend’ forever, or save him) and as for the fight your father, you can end up losing a valuable friend, or with the right preparation, save him. Although the father choice didn’t have a lot more input, the saving your friend one did…

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