Content at a glance:
Anti-Religious Themes: Religion is portrayed as a dangerous and false hoax.
Fantasy Magic: magic powers acquired by touching an ancient book. In battle, players will cast elemental and healing spells.
Mild Violence: Stylized violence is bloodless tho very dramatic.
Mild Profanity: very infrequent profanity like "Dammit!" The profanity is always printed on-screen, and sometimes the lines are spoken audibly.
Mild Sexual Content: A member of the Order is scolded and hunted for "hitting on" some "beautiful ladies." One of the Order officials has a "lustful eye". Th Lord Mage practices polygamy.
Scantily Clad Women: Shairah, the Empress Consort wears a tight and low-cut dress that highlights her ample bosom.
Suikoden games have typically been large-scale RPGs that give the player control over an entire army of 108 warriors. Suikoden Tierkreis, the first portable entry in the series, scales things down and streamlines the gameplay for the younger DS crowd. It’s abandoned the more serious tones from previous Suikodens in favor of a spastic and juvenile anime approach.
The heroes of Suikoden Tierkreis are boys and girls from a small village plagued by wild beasts. While protecting their village from these monsters, the children stumble across a mysterious book and find themselves blessed with mystical powers. Eager to learn more about the book, they set out on a quest for the big city, and their lives will never be the same.
Travel has been streamlined. Instead of exploring an entire world on foot, you’ll instantly move from one map marker to another. Thus, the sense of exploration is greatly reduced and the game is fairly linear. When you eventually acquire your own fortress and begin recruiting your army of 108 warriors, you might expect Tierkreis to follow the other Suikoden games in their presentation of large-scale tactical military battles and sword-fights. Those are gone. Instead, we have a lot of fast, turn-based party battles. These can be fun, but the difficulty level is turned WAY down, and you can pretty much get by using standard attacks. Don’t expect a challenge unless this is your first RPG.
The graphics have fuzzy 3D modeled characters on top of gorgeous and crisp 2D backgrounds. It’s one of the best-looking DS RPGs I’ve ever played. Character artwork follows the anime mold, and everything is well-drawn, though not especially creative in design. I purchased the game after hearing the soundtrack was fantastic, but my expectations were perhaps set a bit high. This is a very good soundtrack with a wide variety of instruments at its disposal, but the actual compositions didn’t hook me like I thought they would. Still, it’s better than what you’d expect for a DS game, and that catchy Suikoden theme shows up from time to time. One thing I could without is the voice acting, which sounds like a bunch of amateurs rushed into the studio and read their lines really fast in order to get them all taped before lunch. It doesn’t help that the actual script lacks punch, and the main character is a spastic speed-talker with the IQ of a hamster.
Religion is portrayed as a dangerous and false hoax. The team investigates a cultic Order of prophets who claim to predict the future, and this Order is in full-blown “Spanish Inquisition” mode. Their philosophy is that everything is predetermined, and anyone who “commits the sin” of believing in free will is arrested by Order soldiers. Such sinners are then forcibly re-indoctrinated with the Order’s principles. To say more would be a spoiler. One of the major cultural centers in the Suikoden Tierkreis world is the “Magedom”, home of the Arcane Academy. A big part of the game (and Suikoden titles in general) is the mystical “mark of the stars”– magic powers acquired by touching an ancient book. In battle, players will cast elemental and healing spells. There may be more spiritual content here, but I did not finish the game so I can’t be sure.
Mild and very infrequent profanity like “Dammit!” The profanity is always printed on-screen, and sometimes the lines are spoken audibly.
Male characters occasionally make harmless, flattering comments about the females. One of your girl party-members is disgusted with the lustful eye of an Order official. A member of the Order is scolded and hunted for “hitting on” some “beautiful ladies.” Shairah, the Empress Consort wears a tight and low-cut dress that highlights her ample bosom. The Lord Mage has three wives and his eyes on a fourth.
Fully-animated cutscenes portray warriors and mages in spectacularly devastating combat. In typical anime exaggeration, dozens of bodies go flying from a single sword stroke while the ground itself goes up in flames and smoke. All of this stylized violence is bloodless and so exaggerated it’s hard to take it seriously. The ESRB rated this game “E-10” for “Fantasy Violence” and I think that’s a good description of what’s going on here. As for the in-game battles, the 3D DS graphics lack the precision to truly offend. Picture a bunch of fuzzy 3D heroes jumping around to smack fuzzy 3D bad guys and you have an idea of what to expect.
OTHER NEGATIVE ELEMENTS
Most striking is the topsy-turvy roles of fathers and their children. Fathers take orders from the kids rather than the other way around. In fact, pretty much any time a father gives instructions to his son or daughter, the kid ends up getting his or her way while the Dad sheepishly says, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Other times, the fathers are portrayed as fools or cowards. A gambler explains his gambling as a way to “have fun” that will “never go out of style.” The ESRB cites this game for “Alcohol Reference”, but I didn’t get to that part.
The main character demonstrates boldness and courage.
Overall, I’d say that this 30-year-old Suikoden fan’s expectations were too high. In bringing the Suikoden series to the DS, Konami dumbed down a lot of what made Suikoden special. The military battle and sword-fights are gone, as are the intelligent conversations and the grand sense of scale. It’s too simple and easy for a mature RPG fan like myself. This is Suikoden for kids, but that doesn’t mean the content is kid-friendly.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
About this game
- ERSB Rating:
- E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)
- March, 2009
- Review Published:
- April 15, 2009 / 9:00 am
- Nintendo DS
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