|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Mar. 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
It may sound a little contradictory, but the Suikoden series is one that has gotten better as it has stayed the same. Although each successive Suikoden title has different themes and storylines, each one features the same general mechanics. No matter which version you play, there will be a total of 108 characters (all of them playable in some fashion) and their job will be to overthrow some sort of corrupt power.
The gameplay in the Suikoden series has traditionally relied on an army-type duel system, which challenged you to form and manage different large scale troops. This battle system definitely required a lot of management and patience, which is why the console-based Suikoden titles definitely fall into the hardcore tactics category. However, despite Suikoden's traditionally epic scope, it looks like the next Suikoden game will actually be a little smaller in size then you may have initially expected. Suikoden Tierkreis is going to be a Nintendo DS title that looks to blend the epic scope of the Suikoden series at-large and make it into a more handheld-friendly format.
Although Suikoden Tierkreis will take a lot of its gameplay and storyline cues from its console predecessors, it is important to note that Suikoden Tierkreis will be a spin-off title rather than a sequel. The events that take place in the story occur in a parallel universe, where you'll meet characters that seem like those you are familiar with, but they are actually new characters.
Tierkreis starts off with a singular character who goes off to fight a minor battle with local monsters, but he eventually finds himself charged with finding the 108 stars of destiny. It is a very familiar sounding story, but as is the case with nearly every RPG, it will evolve into an intense and political narrative. The different star warriors in Tierkreis will be found throughout the game and will serve as the infantry which will conquer an evil king. Although there are 108 individual characters, one thing that Suikoden Tierkreis does very differently is separate several of these characters into secondary classes. This means these characters will not be readily available for troop placement and will not be directly manageable.
In addition to the new character classes, Suikoden Tierkreis will use a unique character swap system that will allow you to connect with other Tierkreis players via the Nintendo WFC and trade characters in your roster with characters in someone else's roster. The loan system will also have some sort of return requirement, which will ensure you get your own character back. This idea sounds very interesting in theory, although there is not much information on what limits (if any) there will be on this feature.
As far as core gameplay is concerned, it looks like Suikoden Tierkreis won't miss a beat. The game features the same, troop-based tactics-style gameplay that the Suikoden games have been known to use. However, instead of large-scale armies, you will instead put together smaller battle parties with only a handful of main characters able to join the part at one time. However, this is where the secondary character system will come in handy. Although these characters will not be directly controllable in battle, certain events should trigger their abilities, which will help to add to the tactical merit of Tierkreis.
Main characters in Tierkreis will be a little more conventional in nature. Each one will have certain pre-disposed abilities, which will include magic and melee-style attacks to be used in battle according to a turn-based system. However, the real meat of the gameplay has its roots in a complex team attack system, which rewards you for putting compatible characters together. Battle encounters look to be randomly generated, which will add an old-school dungeon element to the mix.
The game's control scheme and layout looks to take several cues from other established DS RPGs. The gameplay will take place almost entirely on the DS's bottom screen. You can switch between button-based and stylus control, but since most of the action will be menu-based, it doesn't look like it will make much difference. The top screen will display vital battle and game statistics, and it will be used mainly for in-game reference. The game's structure is fairly unremarkable, but it looks like these basic-style mechanics will serve the game's larger purposes quite well and keep the focus on the tactical elements of the game rather than a gimmicky control scheme.
Suikoden Tierkreis definitely breaks away from its console predecessors in numerous ways. The scaling back of the troop system as well as the new character classes may give concern to some long-time fans, the new character separation system and the team-based elements look to add some refreshing new elements to the Suikoden formula. Tierkreis looks to offer up its own epic style of gameplay, and with more than a hundred characters, an all-new storyline, and new online modes, how could you argue? One thing's for sure, Tierkreis is a game with huge aspirations, and it looks like this spring, big things will come in small packages!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor