Suikoden II (幻想水滸伝 II; Gensō Suikoden II) was released for the first PlayStation console back in 1998, and it is a pretty great game. It also happens to be one of my favorite games that not many people have played. The Suikoden series is loosely based on the Chinese tale of Water Margin that tells the story of a band of 108 outlaws who fought against corrupt government officials. After successfully ridding the corruption, they were granted amnesty by the emperor and tasked with guarding the dynasty from invasions and rebellions.
As much as I love the game and the series, I will let Jason Schreier of Kotaku tell you why you should give the game a try. Schreier has been very positively vocal about the series and knows what people like about the game–especially when it comes to Suikoden II.
Just FYI, due to the rarity of the physical copies of both Suikoden and Suikoden II, they often sell for a good amount of money. I have even seen a purportedly unopened copy of Suikoden II selling at US$250 on Ebay.
However, I will heap an abundance of praise on the underrated soundtrack of this particular game. Miki Higashino, the main composer of the game, and Keiko Fukami penned a cohesive collection of compositions. Many of them sound very different due to the contexts of where the songs are used, but as a whole they sound right. The composers also drew inspiration from different countries such as Thailand and India, as well as musical styles such as Baroque and Irish folk.
“Orizzonte,” the song that I selected to introduce, is a unique composition because of the language it uses. At the time when JRPGs were all the rage, not many songs were composed and sung in Latin or any of the Romance languages. (Perhaps this song is in Italian? Someone please let me know.) One other very famous JRPG music composition that uses Latin is Nobuo Uematsu’s “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII. I do not think that masterpiece needs introduction.
“Orizzonte,” which means “horizon,” is almost likened as a theme song of a minor character named Annallee. She is the vocalist of a music trio whom you can recruit after listening to her sing. However, there is a known bug on either or both the US (NTSC) and European (PAL) versions that causes the song to not play when the singing animation starts. This means you will be listening to silence while Annallee is “singing.” Many people on forums who played for the first time were confused as to why it happened.
The recent PSOne Classic re-release of both Suikoden I and II on PSN did not address the known bugs. Perhaps that is one way to maintain the sense of nostalgia?
So give the soundtrack and game a try and let me know what you think. Here is a bonus picture of Mukumuku, one of five flying squirrels that you can recruit.
Sources: Britannica, Wikipedia, Suikoden Wikia, and SuikoSource
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