61-v0y2bqa4l_sl500_aa280_1Suikoden Tierkreis (Nintendo DS, Konami, 2009)
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I’ve been playing the Suikoden series since it first came stateside in 1996. Each story typically would touch on a cataclysmic event in the planet’s history, which involved one of the True Runes. The stories, while on different timelines, would usually have some sort of recurring cast which would help tie each story together. I was excited and intrigued when I saw that the DS was getting its own installment of the series in Suikoden Tierkreis.

However, the addition of touch-screen mechanics wasn’t the only change — this title is a spin-off from the rest of the Suikoden series. One of the series traits they removed was that every character had his/her own personal weapon, instead deciding to go with the more traditional Á¢€Å“buy them at a shopÁ¢€ method. With all the minor changes, this game still remains a solid RPG title for the DS.

The story starts in your typical small village (named Citro, in this case). The protagonist is a member of CitroÁ¢€â„¢s defense force, and the game follows the ongoing global conflicts with the Kingdom of the Order. You eventually come to head up your own company and find and recruit up to 108 characters to help your cause, which helps extend play value. Sadly, previously recurring characters like Vikki are absent from this list.

The combat system plays similar to its predecessors, allowing four team members in each battle plane. Magic is gifted (called Á¢€Å“mark of the starsÁ¢€) via special books, as opposed to runes, and is used with an MP pool. Each of the characters is given different magic from the books, giving them each their own unique feel and use. Cooperative attacks have made their way back into the game as well, to help deepen the strategy a bit.

The title’s most impressive note is its fantastic background designs, which are both creative and filled with a brilliant attention to detail. The musical score is masterfully blended into the environment, truly immersing you into the Suikoden universe even through the tiny DS screen. The voice acting, however, is poor, thanks to the protagonistÁ¢€â„¢s machine-gun delivery of his lines — and the character’s inability to even pick up on the slightest of clues is sometimes mind-blowing.

The character designs are decent enough, even if they are a bit heavy on the anime side — you can see a characterÁ¢€â„¢s personality spelled out for you in their look. The characters do hit a large spectrum of personalities, from the dull to the ridiculous, which should help attract the wide age range of DS users into the franchise. The storyline remains deep, and has its fair share of twists and side stories along the 40+ hours of gameplay it provides. All in all, this game remains one of the console’s best RPG titles to date, and is sure to deliver without regret.