Remastered versions of Suikoden and Suikoden II are coming to Xbox in 2023!

During the recent Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Team Xbox had its livestream event which was a mix of surprises and game reveals. Xbox chief Phil Spencer and Xbox CVP Sarah Bond spent time emphasizing their gaming business as well as their commitment with the game creators and gamers in Japan.

While the sudden release of the remastered version of the hit Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Ni no Kuni on Xbox platforms and Xbox Game Pass (XGP) was indeed surprising, there was another major surprise pulled off by Konami that includes Xbox for a release some time in 2023 – Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars. Watch the official English-language trailer below…

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official press release from Konami’s website. Some parts in boldface…

Announced during Tokyo Games Show 2022, KONAMI confirmed several fundamental improvements and quality-of-life features in the upcoming remaster collection:

Graphical Improvements

Pixel sprites and environment art enhanced with new screen effects including lighting, clouds, and shadow animations Flickering flames, smoldering smoke, the movement of leaves and insects, all add up to a lively in-game atmosphere!

The effects and direction have been redesigned, bringing memorable scenes back to life in more beautiful ways!

New Character Drawings

All character portraits have been updated in HD. Junko Kawano, who designed the characters for the original version of Suikoden released in 1995, has newly re-drawn all the character portraits for Suikoden I HD Remaster Gate Rune War.

Sound Improvements

Field Sound – A large number of environmental sounds not found in the original version, such as the sound of running water in the river, wind, insects, and running footsteps, have been added. You can enjoy an immersive experience like never before!

Battle Sound – All sound effects are now in HD. In addition to the impact of the 3D effects, the realistic sound greatly enhances the dynamism of the battles!

Game System Improvements

Many new features have been added, such as dialogue log, auto-battle, double-speed battles, etc.

Footage of the remastered Suikoden JRPG from Konami’s official trailer.
The 2D sprites look the same but they do look sharper in HD. Even the background elements look sharper.
World exploration in Suikoden is no longer the flat 2D map it used to be.

As I have played Suikoden and Suikoden II on the original PlayStation console in the 1990s, the announcement of Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars is big dream come true for me personally. I always wanted to replay Suikoden and Suikoden II without the hassle of having to spend a lot of money to buy a PlayStation or a Nintendo console. In my experience, Suikoden II is the peak of excellence of its own franchise as the creative team listened to the fans and learned from their shortcomings on making the first game which resulted in very rich gameplay, several fun features and compelling story. Suikoden II also remains a great example of using 2D sprites aided with 3D camera movements and some polygonal effects. Read my retro review of Suikoden II at https://carlocarrasco.com/2021/07/15/a-look-back-at-suikoden-ii-1999/

The lighting in this particular part of Suikoden II was enhanced to be dramatic looking.
Battle sequence from Suikoden II as shown in Konami’s trailer.
This touching scene from Suikoden II looks better than ever.

That being said, Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars coming to Xbox (note: Xbox One was officially listed as the Xbox console) is a big bonus not just for Xbox gamers who enjoy JRPGs but also for long-time gamers who loved the early Suikoden games who have not been spending much time with console gaming. As seen in the official press release from Konami as well as in the revealed footage in the official announcement trailer, there were several enhancements to make Suikoden and Suikoden II more presentable in today’s age of high-definition gaming. While the 2D sprites and in-game art works of the two classic JRPGs look the same (note: with some minor adjustments), I noticed the improvements on sound effects, the in-game lighting, some adjustments on textures, the higher resolution resulting in sharper images, and the redrawn character portraits (in the first game specifically).

Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars coming to Xbox is looking like a great addition on the Xbox ecosystem’s growing global appeal as the haven for fantasy RPGs gamers and also for gamers who like other types of role-playing games! For Konami, selling the two classic JRPGs on Xbox could mean bigger sales than what they achieved on PlayStation decades ago. Remember that 2023 will see the eventual release of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and the Xbox-eclusive Starfield. Right now, Konami is still at work on enhancing the remastered Suikoden and Suikoden II and they will have to decide which date in 2023 should mark the release. Personally, I can hardly wait to play Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars on my Xbox Series X console. Watch out for Konami’s announcement of the official 2023 release date. Also, here is hoping Konami will do a good job remastering the two classic JRPGs and that the promises they made in their press release will be fulfilled.

For the newcomers reading this, the Suikoden game franchise’s core concept has been based on the motif of the Chinese classic novel Water Margin and the creative team back then (led by a very young Yoshitaka Murayama who is now leading Rabbit & Bear studios making Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes) created role-playing games that had engaging fantasy stories, feature-rich gameplay and a wide lineup of characters who collectively contribute to the game endings. The first Suikoden RPG of the mid-1990s follows a protagonist whose father is one of the empire’s five generals, as he gathers his 108 Stars of Destiny and friends to fight against the oppressive rule of the Empire in ruin. Suikoden II happens three years after the first game’s story, further evolving the game systems unique to Suikoden, such as Rune magic, the 108 Stars of Destiny, home base management, and Army Battles, which were well received in the previous game. Three childhood friends, including the protagonist, are tossed about by a great whirlpool of destiny.

Historically speaking, the Suikoden video game franchise has been strongly identified with PlayStation platforms. Suikoden and Suikoden II were released on the first PlayStation console while Suikoden III, Suikoden IV and Suikoden V were released on PlayStation 2. There were also some versions of Suikoden games that got released on Sega Saturn, Windows PC and Nintendo platforms. That being said, the inclusion of Xbox One as a platform for the upcoming Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars is very notable, even exceptional.

Watch out for Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars on Xbox in 2023. Also, I encourage you all to follow the official Suikoden Twitter account.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

Ni no Kuni remastered version now available via Xbox Game Pass!

By the time you are reading this, this year’s edition of the annual Tokyo Game Show (TGS) is over and Team Xbox’s announced TGS2022 livestream was held with a mix of game showcases and announcements.

During the Xbox TGS2022 event, I was very surprised and delighted to find out that a remastered version of the acclaimed Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was not only released for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One, but also it was immediately on Xbox Game Pass (XGP)!

Officially titled as Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered, I went online with my Xbox Series X to download the game via Xbox Game Pass. The entire experience was quiet jarring as the lightning launch of Ni no Kuni on Xbox consoles and XGP was something I never ever anticipated would happen. Regardless, this sudden release is a bonus for Xbox gamers who want to play more JRPGs as well as XGP subscribers who want new content to enjoy.

From one the many battles during my play time with the game on my Xbox Series X.

For the newcomers reading this, Ni no Kuni was a hit game released only on PlayStation 3 (PS3) in 2011-2013, followed by a remastered version in 2019 for PlayStation 4 (PS4), Nintendo Switch and PC. The game was developed by long-time JRPG developer Level-5 (which is often identified with PlayStation and Nintendo platforms) and published by Bandai Namco. Ni no Kuni is also notable for having lots of anime cutscenes produced by animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli as well as music by Joe Hisaishi.

As I’m writing this, I got to play the game and I am having fun discovering its fantasy world, learning how the game functions and the Studio Ghibli-animated scenes really look nice! I’ve got a long way to go before completing the game.

A talk scene during my play time.
This is one of the scenes animated by Studio Ghibli.

As far as Xbox gaming for 2022 is concerned, the sudden addition of the remastered Ni no Kuni into the Xbox ecosystem and XGP is helpful in relation to the lack of big-budget Xbox-exclusive games in the 4th quarter. It should be noted that RPG heavy hitters Starfield and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes plus the remastered versions of two certain classic JRPGs (note: here’s a hint) are scheduled for release in 2023. When it comes RPG gaming on Xbox, the Level-5-developed game is a very welcome addition given the commercial and critical achievements, fun gameplay and the nice value of having Studio Ghibli-produced animation sequences that helped emphasize the game’s fantasy concepts.

For those of you Xbox and JRPG gamers who wish to buy Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered online, click right here. If you are already an Xbox Game Pass subscriber eager for new experiences or JRPG fun, go download the game now.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few ones related to Tokyo Game Show 2022 for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/.

Team Xbox’s Tokyo Game Show 2022 stream set for September 15

It is that time again. This year’s edition of the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) in Japan will be happening and already Team Xbox announced it will have an official TGS 2022 streaming event on September 15.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official Xbox.com announcement. Some parts in boldface…

We are pleased to confirm that Xbox will be making its digital return to Tokyo Game Show on September 15 at 6 p.m. JST / 9 a.m. UTC / 2 a.m. PDT, with a streamed broadcast celebrating the vibrant players and visionary creators across the region. Like years’ past, this will be a show curated for our players in Japan and Asia.

We invite fans to tune in to the Tokyo Game Show 2022 Xbox Stream where you can expect to see updates on existing titles from Xbox Game Studios and titles launching from developer partners that we hope will delight players here in Japan, across Asia and around the world.

The Xbox Stream will be available on Tokyo Game Show’s official YouTube channel, Xbox YouTube channels in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and on Bilibili in China.

While Tokyo Game Show 2022 will open its gates to the public for the first time in three years this September, the hybrid nature will allow players from around the world to also enjoy the latest in video games, technology, and games culture in Japan. With the theme of “Nothing Stops Gaming,” Tokyo Game Show 2022 will embody the solidarity of gamers and the promising future that lies ahead for our industry.

Gaming has always provided an important way to connect, but especially over the past few years. It has a transformative power to bring joy and foster community, and it’s at TGS where we can all enjoy the spirit of games together.

We look forward to you joining us digitally for the Xbox Stream on September 15 at 6 p.m. JST / 9 a.m. UTC / 2 a.m. PDT.

For more details on Tokyo Game Show 2022, visit the official site for the full schedule from the show’s organizers.

In the above announcement, the 2nd paragraph mentioning developer partners suggests that games – both brand new and those released previously on non-Xbox platforms – will be unveiled. I can imagine this would turn out to be a mix of independent productions as well as games from the medium-sized game studios and perhaps from the big ones.  

When it comes to the big game publishers of Japan, I can only hope that Xbox chief Phil Spencer and his team renewed and reinvigorated their business relationships with Square Enix, Capcom, SEGA, Bandai Namco and other game publishers to secure their new games for release on Xbox platforms plus PC and also some of their old-but-fun games (from the previous console generations) that would make nice additions to Xbox Game Pass (XGP). I would love to see classic titles like Xenogears, Final Fantasy VI, Breath of Fire IV, Virtua Fighter, Shining Force III, Tekken 3, Lunar, Suikoden and many others on my Xbox Series X through my XGP subscription.

The classic JRPG Xenogears would be a great addition into the Xbox Game Pass service.

Speaking of upcoming games from Japanese developers and publishers, I am anticipating the official announcement of the 2023 release date of the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. The announced Persona RPGs for Xbox and PC platforms, Star Ocean: The Divine Force and The Diofield Chronicle should be showcased with pre-release promotions in mind. Team Xbox will most likely announce Xbox Game Pass features and promos geared for the Japanese market.

Team Xbox should establish stronger relationships with their Japanese partners and keep on moving forward with what they have achieved so far in Japan in this current generation. Already Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S combined outsold the Xbox One in Japan by a wide margin (including a sales victory over PlayStation 5 in Japan last June). Until now, I am seeing almost every day on Twitter picture posts of Japanese gamers who showed off a new Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console they bought. There is no doubt that Xbox is gaining traction in Japan better in this current console generation and that alone should convince Team Xbox to keep on intensifying and improving their gaming interest in Japan.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus last year’s Xbox TGS live stream…

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco

Team Xbox has a lot to prove to its fans and other gamers with the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 12

Let’s put things straight here. Firstly, the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase is all set for June 12, 2022 (Sunday) which Team Xbox already announced.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from Team Xbox’s announcement. Some parts in boldface…

Today, we are excited to announce that the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will stream on Sunday, June 12 at 10 a.m. PT. This show will feature amazing titles coming from Xbox Game Studios, Bethesda, and our partners around the world.

Watch for the showcase on June 12, 2022 (June 13, 2022 in Asia).

The Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will include everything you need to know about the diverse lineup of games coming soon to the Xbox ecosystem, including upcoming releases to Game Pass on Xbox and PC.

The Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will be streamed on a variety of outlets, in over 30 languages. You can choose where you want to tune in from:

For some insight about what could be showcased on June 12, 2022, watch this video by Colteastwood.

Secondly, my personal excitement is not too high due to recent developments with regards to Team Xbox’s Xbox-exclusive releases for this year which I was looking forward to playing on Xbox Series X. For one thing, I am very disappointed with the delay of Starfield into 2023. I do understand that Bethesda and Team Xbox want to make it a grand game to play that will ensure enduring bouts of fun and engagement, the previous assurances (note: this includes preview videos published by Bethesda) that the game will be released on November 11, 2022 proved to be meaningless. Why was the old release date decided on in the first place? Did the development team led by Todd Howard encounter serious problems while polishing the game? Howard and Xbox head Phil Spencer will have to explain why.

And there is also the delay of the Xbox-exclusive Redfall into 2023. That game was supposed to be released this summer and it has been months already since any high-profile Xbox-exclusive has been released. I know that there are other Xbox fans still playing Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite on their Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S units out there but without any new content or any other Xbox-exclusive games, fans craving should be satisfied as soon as possible. That being said, the June 12 games showcase becomes more crucial.

No Xbox-exlusive games for the rest of 2022? Team Xbox, Bethesda and their other studios have a lot of explaining to do if they cannot deliver anything this year.

As of this writing, the well of exclusive games for Xbox looks dry. So what can Team Xbox and its teams of developers and Bethesda do to solve the lack of exclusive games this year? Personally, I am anticipating the showcase of the next edition of the Forza Motorsport series of simulation racing games which will be done by Turn 10 and eventually they will announce a late-2022 release date. If the new Forza Motorsport (sometimes referred to as Forza Motorsport 8) will be released beyond this year, that would be a major bummer! For the still-hot Forza Horizon 5, I am anticipating Playground Games to showcase a feature-loaded DLC for release this year.

When it comes to unlikely scenarios, it would really be nice and exciting to see Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II showcased and announced for a late-2022 release. Such a development would really excite gamers and be a strong rebound from the Starfield/Redfall setbacks. I don’t have any updates about the very state and progress of Senua’s Saga but it has been more than three years since the game was initially announced. I can only speculate that the game’s development would be in the polishing stage by now and there would be enough time left for marketing it for a late-2022 release. If only Ninja Theory would update gamers at the showcase.

As for the other Xbox-exclusive role-playing game (RPG) Avowed, showcasing the game on June 12 would make a lot of sense in connection to the Starfield delay. Obsidian Entertainment should be far into the fantasy RPG’s development by now, perhaps reaching the stage of polishing. Showing the latest working gameplay footage of Avowed should be pleasing. And then there is the one other Xbox-exclusive sequel The Outer Worlds 2…any update about it will be very welcome. Going back to Playground Games, I personally am not expecting to see an update about the new Fable RPG at all.

As for Rare and The Initiative, I’m not anticipating anything from them. Still, it would be nice for Team Xbox to make things clear about the state of not only The Initiative but also the Xbox-exclusive Perfect Dark reboot (which now has external studio Crystal Dynamics involved). A Perfect Dark reboot showcase would be very surprising. Regarding one other Xbox game studio – Compulsion Games – it is high time for them to show something. A no-show will be disappointing.

When it comes to Xbox Game Pass (XGP), I would not be surprised to see the announcements of more games get added into the service for subscribers to enjoy. What would be surprising for me is adding memorable Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) like Suikoden, Suikoden II, Breath of Fire 1 to 4, Lunar: Silver Star Complete and Grandia into XGP. When it comes to what could be shocking, it would be the announcement of a Day One Xbox Game Pass launch of the Saints Row reboot. Whatever negotiations Team Xbox is having with game developers and publishers worldwide right now, you can be they are doing they could to keep on filling XGP with varied games.

Speaking of Team Xbox dealing with game companies, the June 12 games showcase would be a great opportunity to make announcements about the latest projects under Xbox Game Studios Publishing. I’m eager to find out any breakthroughs regarding Project Belfry (Stoic Studio), Project Indus (Oxide Games), Project Dragon (IO Interactive), and of course, Contraband (Avalanche Studios). If Team Xbox cannot show anything about those mentioned projects at all, they can at least announce whatever new deals and projects they made with other game companies. While it is possible that Team Xbox could announce something related to their Activision-Blizzard acquisition, I’m not anticipating anything as the acquisition has yet to be completed.

Have you gamers played Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising on Xbox? I recently finished it and I had a lot of fun with it. From this point on, I really want to play Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes (scheduled for 2023) and I hope to see Team Xbox welcome Japan-based developer Rabbit & Bear Studios and lead game designer Yoshitaka Murayama (responsible for Suikoden & Suikoden II) onto the stage to show the latest gameplay footage and announce the final release date during the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase. More on Japanese-developed games coming to Xbox, it would be nice to see Square Enix have its own spotlight in the same showcase to show the latest gameplay footage of Star Ocean: The Divine Force and The Diofeld Chronicle, plus their respective release dates. As for Final Fantasy VII Remake possibly coming to Xbox, I’m not anticipating it at all.

The Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase is just days away from happening as I write this. While the 2021 showcase was great and delightful to me, I’m more cautious now about the June 12 event. Considering what happened recently and how painful the delays of Starfield and Redfall really were, the pressure is now on Team Xbox, Bethesda and its other studios to not just deliver great stuff June 12 but also actually release high-profile Xbox-exclusive games plus DLC THIS YEAR. We will find out soon what Phil Spencer, Todd Howard and other Xbox producers/executives will reveal.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising launching on Xbox consoles and through Xbox Game Pass (XGP) on May 10, 2022!

To the gamers who are craving for new role-playing experiences and some more action, get ready as 505 Games confirmed that Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (the spin-off game to 2023’s Suikoden-inspired Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes) will be released on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Windows PC (via Steam) on May 10, 2022, and it will also launch on both Xbox Game Pass (XGP) and PC Game Pass that same day!

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from 505 Games’ announcement. Some parts in boldface…

Global publisher 505 Games in collaboration with Rabbit & Bear Studios, headed by Yoshitaka Murayama, a creator of Suikoden, and NatsumeAtari today unveil the release date for Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, the fast-paced 2.5D action RPG with town-upgrading elements serving as a companion prequel game to the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Rising’s pre-war tales begin May 10th, 2022 on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam, Epic and GOG. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising will also be available day one via Xbox and PC Game Pass.

After a massive earthquake revealed Runebarrows deep below a town on the remote frontier of the Allraan known as New Nevaeh, fortune-seeking adventurers and merchants from across the world arrive. Among those hoping to find treasure, three star-crossed heroes come together. CJ, the Venerable Scavenger, and Garoo, the Beastman Mercenary, hope to mine the Rune Lens, a source of magic hidden underground. Isha, the Young Deputy Mayor, wants to rebuild her town.

Delve into the ruins and master Rising’s satisfying combat. Dash in quick and strike with CJ’s climbing axes, sling sorcery from afar as Isha, and punish foes with Garoo’s gigantic sword. Topple imaginative bosses by swapping between each character and unleashing devastating Link Attacks combining each hero’s specialty, all while platforming through gorgeous 2.5D environments.

Scavenge dungeons and earn materials to reconstruct New Nevaeh to its former glory and reap benefits applying to Hundred Heroes when it releases in 2023. Cross content includes special cosmetic items, valuable equipment, and trade goods. Make a personal mark on the world of Eiyuden Chronicle by naming certain weapons and delicacies in Rising that will carry over to Hundred Heroes next year.

The May 10, 2022 Xbox and XGP release of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is very notable as it will add depth to the number of Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) and Japan-produced games on the Xbox platforms in this current generation. I still remember the moments of surprise and excitement I had when I saw the unexpected announcement of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising during the Xbox-Bethesda Games Showcase of June 2021.

To those already subscribed to Xbox Game Pass, mark your calendars for May 10, 2022 as Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising will come out for your enjoyment! To learn more details about the game, click https://carlocarrasco.com/2022/03/29/watch-out-for-eiyuden-chronicle-rising-on-xbox-via-xbox-game-pass-xgp/

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

Watch out for Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising on Xbox via Xbox Game Pass (XGP)

We all know that great video games will be released for fun-loving gamers on the Xbox platforms. That’s the truth that Xbox-hating people out there keep on denying. The June 2021 Xbox-Bethesda games showcase was a major event that showed what kind of games and experienced will be released in the years to come. For me, one of the biggest and most unexpected reveals in the showcase were Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from developer Rabbit & Bear (led by Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama).

In my view, those two Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) are significant not only because they add variety to the upcoming games Xbox gamers can look forward to but also because both will be made available to the many millions of Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers!

More recently, a developer exclusive preview of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (note: the spin-off game to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes) which you can watch below…

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is clearly a side-scrolling JRPG that emphasizes action, platforming and town-building set within the universe of Eiyuden Chronicle. To learn more details about the game, posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by 505 Games Brand Community Manager Stephen Takowsky. Some parts in boldface…

This upcoming game is a side-scrolling adventure that mixes platforming, action, and role-playing.

The game’s story takes place on the continent of Allraan in a small mining town called New Neveah. The battle against the evil Galdean Empire awaits. Traverse the town, encounter a vibrant cast of colorful characters, collect resources, and prepare for epic battles.

As you watch this first look at Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, make sure you pay attention to these five key elements in the footage!

A cut-scene with dialogue for gamers to read and understand as the narrative moves.
  • Utilize potions and other stat boosting modifiers to increase your chance of survival. You might notice that we’re at a very high character level compared to the enemies we face off against in this exclusive look. When you play Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, confrontations could be far more challenging than they appear. Potions will give you an edge when traversing dungeons, but they heal your entire party. Try to even out the damage your party receives so you heal everyone efficiently as opposed to only partially healing members of your squad. It is possible to overuse members of your team!
  • Fast travel will help you traverse massive dungeons and hasten quest completion. You will save hours by using the maps and signposts to fast-travel versus running everywhere.
  • Some enemies have an additional bar next to their health that represents a shield. Focus on removing this bonus defense to quickly defeat strong enemies.
  • Each character can help in unique ways throughout levels and even in combat. For example, Garoo can destroy shields quickly, Isha can effectively bring down the defenses of magic focused enemies, CJ is better equipped to traverse challenging terrain, and Isha can teleport to inaccessible areas. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team.

While a final release date has yet to be made, 505 Games declared that the launch of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising will take place later this year. Perhaps the publisher might announce the final launch dates of both Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and the Suikoden-inspired Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes (tentatively set for 2023) at the next Xbox-Bethesda games showcase in a few months from now.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at Suikoden II (1999)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Suikoden II (English version, released in 1999) and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Even though I have not played that many Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) on consoles over the past several years, I am really excited about the upcoming RPGs that will be released on Xbox Series X and the future JRPGs I am looking forward to are Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising developed by Rabbit & Bear Studios (led by Yoshitaka Murayama).

Who is Yoshitaka Murayama? He created the memorable Suikoden (AKA Genso Suikoden) RPG franchise during his time with Konami, specifically the first three games. I myself played and finished Suikoden on the original PlayStation in 1996 and it was a lot of fun thanks to the combined efforts of Murayama (who did the scenarios and game direction) and his teammates such as Junko Kawano (who did the design), Miki Higashino (who did the music along with four other teammates) and some others.

Then in 1999, the sequel to Suikoden was released and I can never forget the day I bought it at a local game store and rushed home with a lot of excitement to start playing it on our then aging PlayStation console.

So you must be wondering…how did I find the sequel? Was it an improvement over its predecessor? Did Murayama and the key creators do better than what they did in the first game? You can all find out in this look back at Suikoden II, published by Konami for the PlayStation (PS1).

The cover of the North American version of Suikoden II.

Early story

The story begins with two youngsters – Riou (your character whose name can be modified) and Jowy – who are close friends since childhood now serving the Highland Army as members of their youth brigade. They spend time in a military camp in the forest as a peace treaty between two great forces is pending (note: Highland has been in conflict with the City-State of Jowston).

As some soldiers expressed desires to go home once the peace has been finalized, Riou and Jowy are ordered by their commanding officer Rowd to go back to their tent and sleep. However, a surprise attack happened which alerted them. As soon as the two close friends left their tent, they are shocked to see parts of the camp burning. Their officer Rowd informed them that their enemy is responsible for the attack and deliberately broke the peace agreement. Riou and Jowy are told to take the mountain path to the east and save themselves before it is too late.

Fearing that they might get ambushed in the woods, Jowy tells Riou that they should return to camp. Upon returning, they quietly witness the unexpected presence of Highland prince Luca Blight who gets briefed by Rowd. As it turns out, the attack on their camp was not committed by the opposing forces but rather it was all a self-inflicted operation by Highland. Rowd’s instruction to some of their selected soldiers to head east was a set-up. What happened was all part of a plan by Highland to escalate the conflict by blaming their losses on Jowston. Luca Blight expressed clearly that a peace treaty with Jowston and its states was not needed, and he strongly believes in the power of Highland to conquer them all.

Jowy and Riou (upper-right corner) quietly witness the conversation between prince Luca Bright and the captain.

After learning the shocking details, Riou and Jowy decide to leave for the cliff to the north as a way of escape. At the cliff, Rowd catches up to the two. Fortunately, Riou and Jowy were successful in defeating Rowd’s soldiers and pave the way for their escape. Before fleeing, they marked a rock and promised to return to that same place if ever they get separated.

Riou and Jowy jumped off the cliff and get separated. Some time later, Riou wakes up and finds himself in the presence of three men. One of them identifies himself as Viktor, the leader of an army of mercenaries and an ally of Jowston. Another member of the mercenary army in blue arrives and he is Flik.

Being powerless, Riou marches with them to the headquarters of the mercenary army…

Quality

Luca Blight (with sword) is a lot more than just being evil as the game’s main antagonist.

Having played Suikoden a lot in 1996, I got familiar with the game design, the varied battle systems and other features that made it a solid RPG on its own. As for Suikoden II, I can clearly say that Murayama and his creative team built up on their foundation (in the first game), expanded the fantasy concept dramatically and ultimately made an extensive series of improvements and additions over each and every aspect of the sequel!

I’ll start first with the storytelling and writing. Compared to its predecessor, I found Suikoden II to be deeper and it took great advantage of the fact that the plot took place just years after first game and by this time the established world, the cities, tribes and geopolitical concept have been developed so much – backed with solid writing – they all become a lot more believable. In the middle of the great conflict are the three main characters Riou, Jowy and Nanami whose exploits and portrayals are pretty rich and lively to follow. It’s kinda like following the love triangle of Hikaru, Misa and Minmay through the war in the classic Super Dimension Fortress Macross anime TV series, except that you – the player – get heavily involved as Rious by making decisions that affect yourself and others, leading missions, building up a community (and force) of over 100 members, and overcoming challenges related to the conflict between Highland and Jowston.

The great news here is that the Riou-Jowy-Nanami emotional arc was written to be dramatic, engaging, intriguing and sentimental which ultimately will make you feel for them just as you make your way through the many events and twists of the war story. Beyond these three key characters, it should be noted that the scenarios are excellently executed and really showed how lively the fantasy world of Suikoden II really is. I’m talking about the portrayal of the many, many supporting characters and the interactions you have with them as the plot moves forward. Remember how lively your troops were in welcoming you back after winning your first army battle? Such a scenario was well directed and scripted, and the supporting characters you recruited really had their moments of participation which make sense within the narrative. I also should mention that the opposition figure of the game – Luca Blight – is still a powerful and complex villain in JRPGs even by today’s standards. Luca Blight is not evil for the sake of being evil, but if you pay close attention to the details about his background as the game’s story goes on, you will realize he is quite a complex character whose evil made sense within the narrative. Very clearly, the writing and storytelling done by Yoshitaka Muraya is not only greater than in the first game, but also very inspired.

Viktor, who also appeared in the first game, continues to be an important supporting character in this sequel! He is one of several characters from Suikoden who returned.

On the gameplay and design, Suikoden II’s exploration of the world, towns and locations uses good old 2D graphics. The big difference here is that the 2D visual elements are more varied in terms of detailed sprites for non-playable characters (NPCs) and interactive characters, and visually the sprites as well as the art used for the in-game environments looked more polished (clearer, smoother and less pixelated). The controls are responsive enough for my taste, and it is also nice that my character moves faster while exploring. More on exploring, I do confirm that there are indeed more locations to visit (including those that are part of the quests related to finding the 100+ characters) and the art made for the locations are more varied as well.

More on the gameplay, two types of battle systems from the first game are back but with refinements. First to talk about is the party battle system in which players get to control a group of up to six members who face off with enemies by group, or a single powerful boss-type enemy. During the party battle, you get to pick options as to what type of action each member of your party will do – Attack, Magic (note: this involve Runes), Item or Flee (note: if your party is much stronger than the opposition, Bribe or Let Go options will appear).

The party battle system is a lot of fun and not too stressful.

The way the battles are designed, as in the first game, is smooth, very visually appealing (thanks to the dynamic camera and fine level of detail of the sprites and animation) and fun to watch. Adding further depth to the party battles are the combined attacks involving at least two characters. Take for example Flik and Viktor doing the cross-attack, or Riou and Nanami performing a series of combo attack moves in strong coordination with each other. These combined attacks are not only fun to perform and see, but also encourages you to experiment by mixing up characters (specifically combatants) and paying attention as to which characters they can do combined attacks with. This alone will encourage you to complete the 108 characters of your force.

The use of Runes has been improved a lot in this game as the combatants now have three slots to equip Runes (note: these slots gradually open up as characters’ levels go up). Runes are essential to use magic spells in battles and the improvement of the Runes – plus the Run Affinity system – add more variety in the battles.

The 2D sprites are very visually appealing, especially when you watch the characters perform varied forms of action during the party battle.

Compared to other Japanese RPGs, the party battles here are much less stressful even though a random encounter system is used. There is also the option for automated attacks, which spares you from having to choose options for each member of your party to perform when fighting the enemies. Granted, I went through lots of random encounter battles and some challenges, but ultimately the stress level and tedium were very low. Doing party battles is fun overall.

The 2nd battle system inherited from the first game is the duel. Duels happen the least throughout the game but each time they happen, they can be quite engaging to do. As the one-on-one battle between your character and an opponent begins, you will see them in a 3D realm with the dynamic camera capturing the action. Your options are mainly Attack, Wild Attack and Defend, and before you can pick an option, you must pay attention first to the clues (note: taunts) from your opponent which can help you anticipate his/her/its next move. While the visuals are clearly improved, the duel is pretty much the same as in the first game.

Duels happen in a 3D environment with the characters still presented as 2D sprites that are not only highly detailed but also are smoothly animated.
Like in the party battles, duel sequences also have a dynamic camera system complete with zoom during the action.

The 3rd battle system – army battles – is clearly the most revised part of the game as it is radically different from the army battles of the previous game. This time the army battles involves the heavy use of a tactical map (where you move units in a grid-like system). Your units – composed of mainly characters you recruited, including the non-combatants – can be moved on the map to counter an enemy unit. Then a short, animated battle sequence will commence and based on the statistics of each unit, the winner and loser of the sequence will be determined. Take note that in events of defeat, recruits can die permanently. As such, it is important to pay attention to not only the statistics but also the types of troops you have such as archers, healers, knights, and foot troops. When controlling units on the map, your options are Attack, Wait and Rune. It is also very entertaining to see how the characters react (with dialogue, no less) to the battles. Overall, the army battle system here is clearly much deeper and more strategic than what was used in the first Suikoden.

The army battles in this game are more tactical than what was presented in the first Suikoden. This is also the main map used for such battles.

Battles aside, there are also lots of things to do related to exploration. For one thing, there are these fun-filled mini-games the game creators set up such as fishing (note: not as boring as it may sound), the whack-a-mole game, rope climbing, Chinchirorin (dice game in a bowl) and, the most exciting and deepest of them all, the cooking contest game. When you fully invest your time into each of these mini-games, you will not feel relieved from the stress of battles and exploration, but also have a lot of fun free of stress. I enjoyed these a lot myself.

If you enjoyed building up your fortress in the first game, you will experience that here also! Building up your stronghold is related to your recruiting of people and some of them have certain talents that will establish key parts of your place like a store, a Rune shop, aa tavern, a restaurant, an armor shop and even a detective agency to name some! It may take an effort to have all possible establishments get realized in the game but I promise you, they are all worth it and you will feel thankful that you got to recruit lots of people. The other reward of building up your fortress is the establishment of a thriving community of people!

Your party members can take a bath and even use the collected artifacts as decorations. This is one of the many side activities you can do at your stronghold.
The cooking contest mini-game is easily the best in the game! This alone will encourage you to keep searching for recipes during your adventures!

With regards to continuity with the first Suikoden game, the game developers implemented certain content (locations, dialogue, story and characters) that get unlocked by having your preserved Suikoden saved game content successfully loaded with Suikoden II running on PS1. I’m talking about being able to meet and even recruit Suikoden hero Tir McDohl, plus meeting even more characters from the first game. Very clearly, this is a clever presentation of fan service done by Murayama and his creative team who paid attention to the feedback of the first Suikoden.

The music done by Miki Higashino and Keiko Fukami are very varied and many of them reflect the places you get to visit, the emotional scenes you witness and the epic moments that happen. The great news here is that each and every tune in the game was made and performed with special care. This game’s soundtrack really stands out high among Japanese RPGs of the 1990s and even by today’s standards, it still is a great soundtrack to listen to.

If there are any flaws in this great game, it is the English translation itself as there were typographical errors, mistranslations and even NPCs with lines of dialogue that made absolutely no sense. Clearly there was a rushed job with the translation.

Conclusion

The political aspect of the game’s story is simple and never overwhelming.

I really love Suikoden II and very clearly, it is a major improvement over its predecessor (which itself was a solidly good RPG). Suikoden II is a labor of love done by Murayama and his creative team and the result is a true epic RPG that has so much enjoyable stuff and high replay value for gamers. Its quality is still great and by today’s standards, Suikoden II is indeed a classic RPG that gamers should play even though Konami itself does not care to make it more accessible in this modern age of gaming.

Given the legacy of Suikoden II and the fact that Konami showed no signs of reviving the Suikoden RPG franchise, now is the time to look forward to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes which Murayama and his team are developing for release in 2023 for Xbox consoles, Xbox Game Pass and other platforms. Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes clearly has strong Suikoden vibes and the distinct combination of 2D sprites with 3D polygonal environments, plus its party battle system strong resembles that of Suikoden and Suikoden II!

Overall, Suikoden II is highly recommended!

Now if only Konami would change its ways to make Suikoden II more accessible (go way beyond the PlayStation online store and ecosystem) to gamers by releasing it digitally through Xbox LIVE, Steam, Xbox Game Pass and other online stores or ecosystems. Paying hundreds of dollars for a legitimate hard copy of the game is simply too much.

There is nothing like building up your stronghold and seeing your recruits become part of its development as well as your campaigns.

+++++

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