Okay! First thing's first:

001/108: ○∆□* McDohl Like most RPG heroes, ○∆□* can't be removed from the party... but if he could be, you wouldn't want to. He uses a staff in battle and fights at medium-range, so he's useful on the front line as well as the back. He doesn't have a rune yet, but before too long he'll get one of the most powerful ones in the game.

If your browser can't handle ○∆□*'s name, blame everyone who voted for that Unicode nonsense. You guys are NUTSO.

The game opens with ○∆□* and his father, the great General Teo, waiting to be called in for their audience with the Scarlet Moon Emperor. Seems it's time for ○∆□* to man up and join the army! Weirdly enough, the game doesn't open with a cutscene; you and daddy are just kind of hangin' around, and nothing happens until you chat with him.

This leaves ○∆□* free to run away from his duties and go treasure hunting! The only thing of value in the palace is 100 bits hidden inside this shiny statue, but hey, let's not look a gift horse in the mouth.

They won't let you outside, though. Rats. Looks like ○∆□* is getting drafted.

"Just remember, if he asks you to pull his finger..."

You guys are going to get real, real sick of that name. And I'm not replaying anything, so you're stuck with it. Jesus for serious what is wrong with you people.

Thanks, nice-lady-who-can't-possibly-be-evil!

Long story short, the emperor congratulates me on my new job and then sends ○∆□* downstairs to meet Kraze, his sniveling new boss. No fooling, this guy is a cocksucker of the highest order, and if his beard/moustache combo is any indication he only moonlights as an imperial taskmaster when he's not dying fair maidens to railroad tracks.

○∆□* and Teo head home where they are welcomed by Gremio, the McDohl manservant. He slathers on some questions and then starts fretting about stew. Soon enough the game drops control back in my lap, which is fair enough since I don't want to hang around here anyway.

Rule number one of every RPG ever: SAVE YOUR GAME. No room on the memory card for a new save, so we'll say farewell to Ralph here. Doesn't look like he was very far anyway. (For the record: Olaf was my most recent replay which only made it partway in, and Sam is my girlfriend's save from when she played last year. Hey guys my girlfriend played Suikoden! That is HOTT!)

○∆□* heads outside the safety of the city of Gregminster to brave the wide world all on his lonesome. I think combat here is pretty self-explanitory: Fight tells your guys to attack (or use Runes, or whatever), Run tells them to haul ass, Bribe attempts to give the bad guys money to let you go (completely useless), and Free Will tells everyone to launch a regular attack. Most of the time I just Free Will my way through every battle I can, and the game is typically easy enough to let me get away with that...

...but with a one-man party at L1 even a couple bugs can make short work of you. Oops. A few levels and some upgraded gear will fix that, but it's rough going at the start to find monsters you can actually kill.

Until I find some, I'll be doing a lot of this! Well, this and reloading the game when I can't get away and the bad guys kill me. That happened probably five or six times.

Here we go! ○∆□* can totally take this guy.

Yeah buddy! That one little monster gave me enough EXP to go up two levels, piling on some more HPs and increasing my stats dramatically. EXP actually works differently in Suikoden than most RPGs; instead of needing X points to go up a level, with X increasing as you level up, you always need exactly 1000 points to level up, and gain less EXP the higher level you are. This means that fighting for a while in any given area tends to see all the characters in your party to the same plateau. This is good for two reasons: first off, because of diminishing returns, grinding EXP is not desireable. Awesome! We hate grinding EXP anyway! Secondly, it means even a pansy L1 character can be brought up to speed in mere minutes, so you never really have to pick and choose which characters to develop. That'll be important later when you cats start sticking every loser you can think of into my away team.

Just upgradin' my armor, nothing really interesting to see here.

Here's the world map! D'awww, ain't ○∆□*'s little sprite just precious? This is the town of Lenankaamp, far south of Gregminster. I'm making a pit stop here because...

...it's the only joint around what has a blacksmith. See, you don't replace your characters' weapons in Suikoden; rather, everyone has a favorite weapon they're stuck with, and you pay blacksmiths to sharpen them up. The sharper the weapon, the higher level it is and the more damage it deals. This eventually becomes the #1 expense in the game. Different blacksmiths have different level caps; this one can raise weapons up to L5, but I can only afford to go to L3 to now, but that should be enough for my purpose.

Little demon guy = poison. Ugh.

Sweet! This rare-ish monster drop is one of the most useful items in the entire game. If you don't get one now, you can buy them several hours into the game for something like 5000 bits.

At the rune shop here in Gregminster, I attach the Holy Rune to ○∆□* for now. I will hopefully remember to remove it before it's replaced with an important plot rune here in a few adventures. If someone's got a Holy Rune equipped in your group, you can hold the circle button down to run around location maps, cutting travel time in half.

Leveled, geared, sharpened, runed... time to make a detour across the lake here, to Mt. Tigerwolf.

This place is just lousy with treasure. This is headgear usable only by females. ○∆□* can't use it, but one of his friends will be able to shortly.

If you're stronger than the current level plateau for a given area, "Run" changes to "Let Go", which is your party showing mercy to pissant monsters that aren't worth the effort to kill. This is the main reason I leveled earlier, so I can travel all over the region without having to fight anything. Good thing too because, regardless of what the game might think, these murderous bunny rabbits would probably kill me if I threw down.

These rune pieces can be attached to weapons at the blacksmith to... make them pretty? Who knows. If they have an in-game effect it's not something noiceable.

The inventory system in Suikoden works like in Dragon Quest; every party member carries their own stuff, and their equipped gear (shown here in teal) counts against them. Now that ○∆□*'s inventory is maxed out, he'll have to skip the rest of the treasures here because he simply can't carry them.


Having passed through Mt. Tigerwolf we find ourselves in this sleepy little valley, home to the tiny village of Sarady. Seriously, this whole town is like a house, an inn, and a well. And I might be lying about the well.

First up is to make some room in the inventory. However useless this rune piece may (or may not!) be, it's worth 500 bits. Score.

Okay, okay, time to end the suspense. Why come all the way to Sarady before the game is even started? Because this guy likes to hand out rewards!

Sweet! ...of course, because of how EXP works in Suikoden, this rune actually isn't really worth all this trouble. I just wanted to show off. I'll probably end up selling this bad buy when I get back to Gregminster.

So, long walk back, and here's Gremio still slaving away on his stew.

Hey peanut gallery!
I think this decision makes itself, but maybe you lot are more merciful than I am. Considering you gave poor ○∆□* the least pronouncable name since The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, though, I somehow doubt it.

Anyway, it's still pretty empty as of now, but here's a link to my collection of stars.

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