Originally posted by: Makkuro
Yes, ○×∆□☆ (it's not an asterisk, dude) looks like the kind of guy who would torment the help for fun.

Yeah well I couldn't find a star on the character map, okay? Why couldn't you have picked a normal name like Bill or Fred or something? Anyway...

Man you guys are cold, pullin' on a brother's ears like that. What if one of the options had been "jab an icepick into his spine and then urinate on him as he writhed on the floor in agony?"

Actually, don't answer that. I don't think my poor heart could take it.

Anyway, here's a super magical alternate ending for you tickle fetishists out there.

Let's meet the rest of the McDohl entourage, shall we? Here we have Cleo, who for all I can figure is Teo's concubine. What I want to know is, how many times has she had to tell ○×∆□☆? And if it's such a problem, why not just install a deadbolt?

In the next room we have our lazy karate man, Pahn. If I weren't such a classy guy I'd make a "kung fu Pahn-da" joke here. Boy I bet you all are glad I'm such a classy guy.

Upstairs ○×∆□☆ is put on the spot by his best buddy Ted, who demands to know all about the emperor. He hops into your party here and the game drops control back in your lap, so you're actually free to run away and do whatever at this point. If you make the trip to Sarady with Ted in your party, you get a Prosperity Rune instead of a Fortune Rune as your reward. The Prosperity Rune doubles the bits you get from combat, which simply isn't that useful.

I know, I know. Any other RPG? You would kill to have "double EXP" and "double money" items to exploit within an hour of firing the game up. Suikoden? Neither one is a big hairy deal. Anyway, you can't get both runes at once (at least, not using this method) and even if I were to run back to Mt. Tigerwolf all those fights I could previously "Let Go" would now be too tough for me since Ted drags my average party level down to L5.

I'm sure you would, little buddy!

(...by the way, Windy's the bad guy.)

At dinner, Teo fills everyone in on his new mission to travel north and beat up some rapscallions from the "City-State of Jowstone". This is just a throwaway location that the characters mention in passing but are never actually featured anywhere in the game, meant to add a little depth and flavor to it. It comes off as pretty cheesy in the first game, especially to someone who is used to being able to visit and explore absolutely every dot on the map, but as the series progresses this kind of haphazard namedropping actually starts to pay off. Later on, for example, "Jowstone" is retconned to be the City-States of Jowston, a collection of quasi-autonomous countries that serve as the setting of Suikoden 2. Suikoden 2 in turn introduces characters from a huge variety of locales such as the Grasslands, Zexen, Falena, and the Island Nations. These are little more than just names when they're introduced, but they becom full-fledged settings for later games. In fact, practically the entire story of Suikoden 5 is the culmination of an optional two-line bakstory tidbit of one of the minor cast members of Suikoden 2.

Teo leaves the next morning before properly saying good-bye. He's sure he'll see ○×∆□☆ again. (Spoiler: he's right!)

And we're all ready to go see Kraze and get our first assignment! Especially Pahn, who measures his worth in how many people he has beaten up on any given day.

I promise, guys, eventually I'll have an army. But for now at least my team has some numbers to it! Teams in Suikoden consist of six people lined up in two rows. Here we see their names, portraits, HP total and weapon range. Weapon range breaks down like this: you have (S)hort, (M)id and (L)ong range weapons. S-range people can't attack from the back row, M- and L-range can attack from either row. The biggest effect this has on gameplay is limiting the amount of S-range folks you can stick in your party at any given time; three is fine, four means someone is stinking up the back line without anything useful to do.

002/108: Gremio
The McDohl manservant is a totally decent M-range fighter without any decent Rune abilities. He tends to tag along with the party whether you want him or not, so get used to him.

003/108: Pahn
Pahn is a powerful S-range fighter who is held back by his fixed Rune. See, most characters can swap their Rune for something else over at the Runemaster shop. Some folks use magic Runes well (which I'll explain in detail in a later post, once I start using them), some prefer Attack Runes (like Pahn's Boar Rune) and some have slots best suited to Utility Runes (like the Holy Rune ○×∆□☆ has right now). Sometimes people come with fixed Runes, meaning the Runemaster can't remove it. Pahn's Boar Rune deals a fair bit of damage, but leaves him Unbalanced in the next round, meaning he loses his turn. Not exactly super-useful, especially as we advance in the game and recruit people who are just as strong but can put their Rune slot to better use.

004/108: Cleo
Cleo is a very awesome L-range attacker who gets decent, but not great, use out of Magic Runes. We could go buy her a Magic Rune if we wanted, but I'm not going to bother. She's a favorite amongst the fanbase.

First thing on the agenda is to get this team outfitted properly! I'm going to move my Holy Rune from ○×∆□☆ over to Gremio for now. Remember how in FF6 you always gave your Sprint Shoes to someone who wasn't really going to make great use of both their relic slots anyway? Same principle here. ○×∆□☆ is eventually going to have his Rune slot filled by a plot contrivance, whereas Gremio will never do anything useful with his.

Next to drum up some cash. I have a few trinkets to sell. Hmm... looks like Gremio has run up a tab at this shop. I'm sure we'll never actually have to deal with it, though!

Pawning off the nice-but-not-necessary EXP-boosting Rune pulls in a cool 25k! More than enough to get everyone the best armor we can wear from Gregminster, but not enough to sharpen everyone's weapons. You know what they say though, you have to spend money to make money. Time for a field trip!

East of Gregminster is the town of Rockland, which was renamed Megaland in the US release.

There's a lot of debate as to whether Marco is a man or a woman. Honestly, it's neither: it's an elaborate ATM. What do you say, Talking Time? Let's play money-making game!

This is a standard "find the coin!" minigame. You can bet 100, 1000 or 10000 bits; the higher your bet, the faster the cups move. However, some lazy programmer hard-coded the cups you find the coin under. So if you were to, say, walk up with 20000 bits, let it ride until you were broke, and record which cup you find the coin under each time... you could then reload the game and win fabulous amounts of money in a stupidly short span of time. I usually just record the first three or four cups in the sequence, because leaving Rockland and then walking back in is enough to trick Marco into starting the order over.

Thanks for the contribution, sucker! By the way, this isn't even the most broken money-making gimmick in the game. This is enough to tide me over until I can really rake in some mad bits, though.

Just to give a slight idea of how expensive blacksmithing is... here's what my funds look like after bringing everyone's weapons up to L5. I'm still loaded, but I did take a serious bite out of my walkin'-around money.

Okay, enough screwing around. Let's go see Kraze. He gives us some phoney-baloney job about going to see some astrologer... yadda yadda yadda. Then, just to make sure ○×∆□☆ is paying attention, he quizzes him:

Of course, you're given the option to serve up some snark if you want. Kraze wasn't kidding though; even if you backtalk him, he still won't repeat the directions. He does say we get to ride a dragon, though!

Unfortunately our dragon knight Futch looks more like he belongs at a Pokémon convention than flying on giant firebreathing monsters. Oh crap a lot of you guys play Pokémon don't you? Whoops. Also his dragon, Black, sounds like an elephant.

Ted's not exactly a friendly guy. He pretty much lips off to everyone within earshot. This probably explains why ○×∆□☆ is his best friend; being mute, he has no recourse against Ted's scathing wit.

From this screenshot I can only assume we are all riding in Black's gut. Here's [url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=PPLMFhUsjEg]a link to a YouTube recording of this scene, so you can hear Black in all his elephant-y glory. Don't worry, you only have to watch about the first 15 seconds.

The astrologer we're looking for lives on Magician's Island, which is a tiny forest dungeon we could essentially sleepwalk through. At the end is boy wonder Luc, who summons a boss for us.

The boss, of course, goes down in a single round because my guys are all bro-awesome. Here Pahn and Gremio are demonstrating their Unite attack. Certain characters can team up for super-attacks like this. They're actually not as important or prominent as they probably could be, and there's not a lot of incentive for finding them given how powerful things like Rune Magic are later on. There's also no decent system of discovering them outside of just throwing random people in your party and crossing your fingers. There's an excellent chance that Talisman Attack is literally the only Unite a player might reasonably come across in the entire game.

So what happens to people who fail the test? They just get pummeled and die? "Hey Luc, where's the Imperial messengers we were expecting?" "Smooshed to pulp by a rockmonster. Why do you ask?"

The seer obviously lives at the top of a very tall tower. I didn't actually count but I estimate I walked up 287,000 screens of spiral staircase.

Man, what is it with creepy old women calling ○×∆□☆ cute? I mean, I guess he's kinda cute. I dunno. Anyway what's worse, being called cute by a lady who appears to be blind (or, at least, always keeps her eyes closed), or having her apologize for it?

Turns out this is actually Lady Leknaat, who even five games into the series we still don't know much about other than a vague connection to stars and destiny. And yes, her name really is "Leknaat", and it sounds even more ridiculous than it looks. Seriously the first time I heard her voice actor (in Suikoden 4) pronounce her name as though she were some kind of intersteller battleship, my eyes rolled right out of my head. "Shit, giant space octopus! Quick! Arm the lek-naught!"

Fun fact: Suikoden is pretty hilariously low-budget in places. For example, the blue flames in those elaborate-looking blue braziers looks nice, but isn't animated. It's just, like, frozen there, in place. Unsettling.

Leknaat gives me the predictions I came for, assures me I have a lot of hard choices ahead, and gives me a Fire Rune, then asks Luc to teleport me down the tower so I don't have to walk back.

Ted, who had previously shot his mouth off at Luc, gets teleported a few feet in the air and drops to the ground. Oh, Luc!

Futch flies us back to Gregminster, and it's mission accomplished! I'm pretty sure there's no theater anywhere in town, though, and even if there were I'm sure they have a strict "no dragons allowed" policy. Maybe Black is a seeing-eye dragon.

This is about the biggest compliment ○×∆□☆ will ever get from Kraze. He doesn't waste any time; without even giving ○×∆□☆ a coffee break he launches directly into the next menial chore he has for me, which involves shaking some sleazebag down in Rockland for taxes he isn't paying.

Yeah, moron, I JUST SAID THAT. Sheesh. So Kraze doesn't trust us to bring the money back ourselves, so he sends his lacky Kanaan along with us. Kanaan is a character so unbelievably worthless that I can't believe they actually included him in the game. In fact, I'm not even going to show you his portrait yet. Screw you, Kanaan.

So Rockland's up next! It actually involves a for-real dungeon and the plot starts to get interesting (I promise!). Here is the up-to-date star chart. Wait a minute, why is Ted missing from it? Find out next time on Let's Play Suikoden!

Oh, Milich, ANYTHING is fabulous when wrapped around that delicious body of yours!

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