Here%26rsquo;s yet another RPG franchise that%26rsquo;s jumped ship from PlayStation to DS. *Crowds cheering.* Suikoden has been doing the rounds for over a decade and its inclusion in the ever-growing roster of DS RPGs is most welcome. This is a thoroughly enjoyable yarn that held our attention throughout the 30 or so hours of play. Be warned, though - this has so much conversational narrative that even Tolkien would accuse the writers of going on a bit. Exploring and scrapping definitely play second fiddle to the story.
You%26rsquo;ll be shocked to hear that you play a young orphan boy from a small village who starts out as a nobody. Even more surprisingly, you%26rsquo;re blessed with special magical powers %26ndash; the Mark of the Stars %26ndash; and promptly have the fate of your entire world dropped onto your shoulders. Evil is abroad, of course, and it%26rsquo;s down to you and your party to stop a nefarious and corrupt religious cult from imposing its will on the populace.
The premise may be hackneyed but the story is actually one of the richest we%26rsquo;ve encountered in ages, and the sheer number of diverse characters sets it apart from the usual RPG plot fare. Fairly early on in the game you%26rsquo;ll form a company of warriors, and as things progress more people will join the battalion. There are a whopping 108 warriors to recruit, and you can swap them in and out of your core party of four fighters and one supporting character as you see fit.
Some of the main story missions %26ndash; the larger battles %26ndash; require you to send a couple of parties out, while plenty of side-quests or jobs become available that need a party with certain key attributes. Here%26rsquo;s where it gets interesting. Most of the side quests are done without your involvement. You simply accept the quest, pick who%26rsquo;s going and send them on their way, but you%26rsquo;re not restricted to questing in your own world %26ndash; you can send your chaps into other gamers%26rsquo; worlds via Wi-FI, where they%26rsquo;ll earn XP and cash. Similarly, accepting someone else%26rsquo;s party into your world will let them help you deal with your problems. It%26rsquo;s a great online feature.
Suikoden%26rsquo;s a little on the easy side, with auto-leveling-up and rarely any danger of seeing a game over screen, but this is our favourite RPG of recent months.
Apr 8, 2009