By: Ted Chow
Staying true to the original Suikoden III on the PS2, in both resolution and gameplay, this iteration is an exact replica of what made the Suikoden series what it is, in all respects. If you were looking to see expanded content or a revitalization of the series, you best be wary of expectations; however, if were longing for some nostalgic JRPG value from the golden age of the PlayStation, the Suikoden series is one of the pioneers of the genre.
While understandably a direct port, some of the flaws of the original seem to have also carried over to the PS3. Most noticeable is the lack of camera rotation and default movement with the analog stick. The analog can be set in the settings, but the settings don’t seem to be saved upon subsequent boot ups of the game. Camera rotation is a staple in RPGs such as this, and it was rather inconceivable to see this feature not present. Aside from these issues, the overall experience felt like how it should be when playing a game of this genre.
For its time, Suikoden III was probably revolutionary for the PS2 era of games. The 3D was most likely the best for what technology was available and it goes to show the advancements we have today. The animations may seem stiff and the models can feel a bit blocky, but it still seems to have aged well from all these years. The soundtrack wasn’t all too inspiring or memorable after extended play, but it gave enough substance to the overall experience.
Suikoden III’s main selling point is the Trinity Sight System, which is essentially being able to play through the story campaign as three different heroes within the same world. It allows you to see the story from different perspectives and understand the inner workings and motivations of each faction. Once you’ve reached a certain point within the story, you can opt in with the other heroes to play their story within your first main choice in hero selection.
The game is a first generation JRPG through and through, and you can feel the overall complexities within the gameplay — even the battle statistics look like excel tables. You will control your main hero and the rest of your party will consist of NPCs that are crucial to the story and to the hero’s upbringing.
Expected features such as character equipment, runes (magic), skills and party formation are also available for the player to explore and master. Many vendors are available to augment your skills and runes by adding new affixes, improving combat stats and other upgrades.
Battles are initiated by walking throughout the open zones, similar to Final Fantasy. Your party will start in a formation that you set ahead of time, which is important in establishing your tanks from your magic casters. Certain spells and abilities are also dependent on conditions to be met, such as enemies within a radius or casting time requiring multiple turns.
With the initiation of your turn, your party will move around the battlefield and new strategies and options will become available. Additionally, you can click on automatic to let the AI take the best actions for you if you don’t want to manually cast spells, use items or issue commands.
Suikoden III also gives the player a castle to manage their party and eventually recruit additional heroes called the 108 Stars of Destiny. Acquiring said heroes will require the player to finish a short side quest or other mission, but it doesn’t have a time limit compared to other games in the series. Aside from managing your stronghold, the castle will also allow the player to play mini-games such as dice, cards and horse racing to name a few.
As long as you have the patience and tolerance to see through the grind and, most noticeably, aging graphics, Suikoden III is a game with interesting depth for its time — and those that have saved data from previous games in the series can also load said data upon starting. If you’re a fan of the series or just like a good JRPG with plenty of nostalgic value, Suikoden III is a blast from the past and can pull its own weight in this competitive market to capture the player’s gaming time.