Yeah, it's pretty much the best possible name ever. Way better than "○×∆□☆ Castle" or "Buttplug Castle" or whatever it was you wanted to call it, Gremio.
So the Liberation Army is officially a real thing! And... wait a minute, who's that guy standing there in the blue bathrobe...?
009/108: Yam Koo
It's Yam Koo! He's essentially a freebie who comes along with Tai Ho. As for his battle prowess, I don't know much about him. There's only one fight in the game you have to use him, and we're a ways away from it yet. Usually when I go there I don't bother leveling Yam Koo or decking him out, either, so I've never actually seen him in action. He's got a Unite attack with Tai Ho that isn't anything spectacular. Will this playthrough be the surfer dude's time to shine?
Just as we're about to totally rip the Empire a new one Leknaat shows up with some housewarming gifts. The first is the Stone Tablet of Promise, which is Eureka's Castle's roster. The second is...
Luc, the kid who mistook "please welcome our guests inside" for "summon a monster and try to kill them".
Luc is our first dedicated magic-user. He's a fan favorite, but I don't like him in my team for three reasons: 1) dedicated magic-users are as pointless as dedicated warriors, especially late in the game when you start getting a ton of people who are good at both (like Cleo); 2) he's got an S-range weapon, which means he either eats up a front row slot or doesn't get to act in combat; 3) his Wind Rune is hot-glued on and, as far as elemental runes go, Wind is probably the least useful of the five.
Oh yeah, I guess I promised you guys a write-up on how rune magic works. I think I'll hold off on that until I have a few more magic runes to play with.
Mathiu wastes no time in getting right down to business: hit the village of Kouan and recruit this Lepant chap to our cause.
Quit stealing my material, Gremio.
Now that Eureka's Castle is ours, let's take a look around! Right now it's just two floors and a basement, and there's nothing much really interesting to see.
Luc is hanging out on the second floor guarding our massive Slab'o'Names. This is a list of everyone we have on staff. Right now it's a paltry nine names (remember, Pahn done run off back in Gregminster) but that will change soon.
The stone tablet serves as a giant status screen of sorts. Clicking on someone brings up all their vital info. Each character comes associated with a star; ○×∆□☆ is the "Tenkai Star" and Gremio is the "Tenei Star". There's quite a bit of correlation between the five games on what kind of character gets which star; all five strategists share the same star, for example.
You can bring up a status screen for non-combatants too, but it doesn't really offer anything helpful.
Down in the basement we can see that the Zombie Dragon forever watches over us. Thanks for your vigilance, horrible rotting corpse!
All the way down in the basement, we even have our very own jail cell! We only ever get to lock one person up in here, and that person happens to be the #3 most likely character to screw you out of a perfect game. We won't meet this individual for a very, very, VERY long time though.
Neither Mathiu nor Leknaat will shut up about recruiting people, so let's get to it. Our first stop is right here in the Kaku opium den, where we meet a crazy inventor with some crazy ideas. Whatever, pal, we're hurting for help. You're in.
The game almost always gives you this option, but as far as I know there is never a benefit to saying no. So we won't!
Yet another of the vast list of characters I've never actually taken out into combat, Sergei is the first one who actually provides a benefit: an elevator that lets ○×∆□☆ move around the castle without trudging up and down a bunch of stairs. Every Suikoden game has an "elevator guy", even Suiko4 which takes place on a boat.
Sergei is the only guy we can get in Kaku for now, so let's head north to Seika and see who's hanging out.
It's our old pal Marie! Unfortunately the Imperials figured out she was harboring fugitives and ran her out of town. I guess the least we could do is give her a place to set up shop, seeing as how it was our bad and all.
One of the most important memebers of the Liberation Army, Marie opens up an inn. Inns in Suikoden are pretty typical RPG fare; refill HP/MP, save the game, you know the drill.
Seika is also home to the ugliest woman alive, who practically shoves her way into the Liberation.
Onil does absolutely nothing for you at all. You can't put her in the party, she doesn't run a shop, she doesn't get involved in the story at all. Her schtick is being the "old gossip lady" (another Suikoden staple), but her gossip is seldom if ever actually useful. Believe it or not, though, she still manages to keep from being the most useless character in the game, who we'll meet in a few more adventures.
Back up at Kwaba, we meet back up with this guy, who was whining about opening his own shop. It's your lucky day, pal!
Chandler is Eureka's Castle's item shop. As I explained, his inventory includes every item from every hardware store you've visited. Some essential-for-recruitment items are found in hardware stores, usually only in one spot, so instead of running around the world frantically looking for the one shop you found Red Flower Seeds (or whatever) you can usually just hit up Chandler. As long as you've been visiting the stores as they come, he'll have what you need.
There are a few more locations we can reach in this region. South of Kaku is Kouan, the place Mathiu wants ○×∆□☆ to meet up with Lepant, but there's no one recruitable there, yet. Further south is Garan Fortress, the checkpoint between the Seika/Kaku/Kouan region in the east, and the Teien/Rikon/Antei region in the west. We can't cross through it yet as it's held by Imperial forces, but we can stick our noses inside to see what's up.
Looks like it's ○×∆□☆'s old teacher. Hey old man, sign here, and here, initial here...
I have a love/hate relationship with Kai. There is no doubting he's completely awesome; he's an M-range fighter who is every bit as good as ○×∆□☆. What's more, he and ○×∆□☆ can Unite to use the "Master-Pupil Attack" which damages every enemy on the screen and leaves neither participant unbalanced. Here's why I don't like him: in the time it takes to select Master-Pupil Attack from the menu, and enter generic Attack commands for everyone else, and watching the unite attack animation... you could have Free Will'd your way through two combat rounds. In other words, he makes battles super easy at the cost of also making them much slower. I generally am not willing to make that trade, but a lot of players are, and Kai is a party mainstay for a lot of people all the way through the endgame.
Our last stop is the Forest Village, which connects the Seika/Kaku/Kouan region with the Great Forest further east. We can't pass through the forest yet because of leprechaun magic, but that's not why we're here anyway.
This guy sounds like a psychiatrist, but he's actually a blacksmith. He can only sharpen up to L5 (and our stuff has been L5 since Lenankamp) but it'll be nice having one right at home so I don't have to hop into the boat every time some newcomer's weapon needs a tune-up.
Every Suikoden game has a set of five mascot characters. Suiko2 has five flying squirrels you can recruit, Suiko3 has a whole pack of dogs, Suiko4 has a harem of mermaids and Suiko5's got an entire village of beavers. In Suiko1 your mascots are color-coded blacksmiths, starting with Maas. Each new blacksmith you recruit can sharpen your weapons more and more. Later games only have one blacksmith whose skills get better as you deliver new hammers to them, but poor Maas will be stuck at his L5 cap the entire game.
Baths? I dig baths. Pack your shit, homie.
Sansuke's claim to fame is opening up the bath house at Eureka's Castle. You can also put him in the party if you must. I think I've tried him out once or twice but never in any serious capacity. He sure is goofy-lookin' though.
And that's everyone we can get! Holy crap you guys, the Liberation Army has almost DOUBLED in size with that short trip around this region of the world. Let's head back to Eureka's Castle and see what they've all been up to while we were out and about.
Here's Sergei's beautiful, wonderful elevator. The castle only has three floors now, but eventually it will have five and several outlying wings besides.
The downside is, you actually have to step inside the elevator to use it, so it doesn't actually save you any time if you're only going up or down a single floor. Later in the series they learned their lesson and nixed the "inside the elevator" shot.
On the second floor we find Onil, yammering about some nonsense. Down in the corner you can see where Maas has opened up his blacksmithery.
The second floor is where all the shops in Eureka's Castle are eventually located, like Chandler's shop down here in the corner. I know you're curious, so I'll just tell you: the Needle cures "Balloon" status, a ailment certain monsters will drop on you. It doesn't do anything, but each time you're hit with it another balloon is added. When a character has three, they float away from battle and are out of play until you win. Status ailments in Suikoden are almost always negligible so I tend to sell or store any packs of Needles or Antitoxins that clog up my inventory.
What luck! This is actually one of Suikoden's more annoying random elements. There is a chef character out in Seika you can't recruit until Marie specifically asks for him. Sometimes it's quick, sometimes she takes forever. There's no solid trigger I'm aware of. You talk to Marie all the time so you're bound to see it eventually, but this is the first time I've gotten the request on my very first try. Well, no point looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Back in Seika, on the other side of the same building we ran into Marie, we meet the chef she wants. They've pretty much been hanging around here the whole time I was in the haunted castle and didn't bother to network, so ○×∆□☆ has to play matchmaker.
Future Suikoden games give your chefs a ton of stuff to do, from Iron Chef minigames to restaurants that make you money to ingredient-hunting subquests. In Suiko1, though, they just stand around doing nothing until you ask to have them in your party. Is Antonio any good in combat? The world may never know.
Not every character is this easy to recruit, though; Gaspar here won't join up until the castle is a bit bigger. The more people you recruit the more the castle grows, and the more willing people are to join the Liberation. This can get pretty technical, but it's easy to boil down: after every major mission, go back and talk to all the people who wouldn't join up before, to see if they say something new.
Same deal with Lorelai here. Sometimes your castle needs to be a certain size, sometimes you need to have a certain number of people, sometimes you need to meet some other requirement (which can get pretty obscure).
Meg here requires a certain character to be in my party that I don't actually have yet. I'll come back when I do.
Back in Eureka's Castle, Sansuke's already fired up his bath.
Ahh... refreshing! It's pretty ghetto now, but the bigger Eureka's Castle gets the more posh our bath becomes. Note the empty pedistals surrounding the bath. We have six antique stands and two spots to hang paintings. In the future, instead of pawning my antiques I'll show them to you guys and you all can argue about how my bathhouse needs to be decorated.
Okay, I've done about all I can do without advancing the plot. Time to go see a man about a Lepant.
Hey peanut gallery!
Here's how the party select screen works: the window at the bottom right shows who is currently in the team. These people are locked in; I can't remove them. (Get used to seeing Gremio and Viktor's names in there. Heh.) That means I need two people to tag along with me! Do you demand more Tai Ho and Camille? Shall I bust out Kai and lay the smack down with his vicious Unite attack? Is it time to see what the chef and the bath guy are made of? Pimp my party, Talking Time!
You can see everyone I've got in that screenshot for now, or you can hop back to the master list.
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