• 6 Things Final Fantasy Can Take From Suikoden

    6 Things Final Fantasy Can Take From Suikoden


    As a person who exists and also plays RPG's, I am a fan of both Final Fantasy and Suikoden. Final Fantasy is a great series and it brings a lot to the table. With that being said, my current Suikoden marathon has made me think about some things Final Fantasy could take from the series and grow to become even better. Here are the six things I think Final Fantasy should consider adding to their games!

    6. Growing Up

    When we play a Final Fantasy game, our heroes usually develop and grow along the way. They learn things, make friends, defeat bad guys. But what I've noticed is that while they have grown, it doesn't necessarily feel like some of our younger heroes have really "grown up" - just changed somewhat and adapted. You see, a lot of Final Fantasy heroes, despite being young, have their stuff together. They may already have careers, or be world-traveled, or have been sucked in to other worlds because of un-creatively named evil whale creatures.



    Suikoden's heroes are usually the average RPG hero age, meaning teenagers, but the series doesn't seem to treat them like they are already adults. Some still live with their parents, others are just starting to gain their independence. Instead of going in to the adventure as capable adults, they are usually thrust into the world as naive and a bit unsure. But that's where the magic happens. They start out needing heavy support from others, barely knowing right from left. And then you see them grow up. They go from lost, confused, and heavily depending on others, to leading their own armies, now being able to give back and lead those who have helped them get to where they are.



    5. More Backstabbing

    That's right, I want more people to figuratively stab me in the back in my Final Fantasy games. We get enough front stabbing, my back is starting to feel a bit left out. You see, a common theme in Suikoden is that someone, somewhere, at some time, is going to betray you. Sometimes it's minor. You didn't really like that person anyway and they just kind of apologize and then you all move on with your lives. Sometimes it happens quickly. You're pretty bummed but you can't say you didn't see it coming. Sometimes it's major and really hits home. Sometimes it happens late in the game and then it really hits you because you dropped a crap ton of money on them and now they're gone and so are those thousands of dollars of weaponsharpenings that you could have spent on that weird guy who likes throwing corpses in to large bodies of water. But it happens. It always happens.


    You thought I was kidding, didn't you?

    Final Fantasy does not have this as a common theme, but I think it could play out really interestingly, especially if they wait until late in the game. Especially since Final Fantasy always has a much smaller cast, it would probably hit a lot harder. Someone you've put hours and hours in to, someone you've grown to love. They mean something to you, darn it. You've taught them skills, you've bought them equipment. And then, AND THEN, they say "screw you", laugh in your face, and try to destroy the world or something. Then you can feel yourself die a little on the inside.



    Plus it's always fun to replay the game and try to pinpoint the exact moment they decide to betray you. It was when we got those cheeseburgers wasn't it? I always knew you hated dairy!!

    4. Smaller Scale Stories

    As mentioned above with the whole world destroying business, Final Fantasy usually takes place on a very large scale. You save the world. The world is in danger. You go from one end of the globe to the other. And don't get me wrong, that's great, and I love me some large-scale RPG's. But there's also something special about one that takes place on a smaller-scale. Suikoden games usually take place in one area of the world. You may travel to another area at times, but the central focus is on one country or a small collection of countries.



    What makes this so great is how it brings things in to perspective, especially throughout the series. Your heroes aren't fighting to save the whole world, but to truly save their home. Generally by taking it over and starting it over again. After the fifth time doing this, it really hits you that others are having these struggles too. There are wars going on all over the world, troubles people are dealing with, causes people are fighting for. What you're playing is just one story of many possible stories and one outcome of many possible outcomes. It's refreshing to realize that and also to think about what you're fighting for. It's awesome to fight for the whole world, but sometimes it's just nice to fight for your home and for what you believe in.



    3. Grey and Grey Morality


    As should be clear by now, I'm not speaking in absolutes here. Final Fantasy has a ton of games and some of the games do have these things I'm asking for. Some Final Fantasy games do a great job of touching on grey and grey morality, but it is something I would love to see more of. While Suikoden has its cut and dry, right or wrong mentality in some cases, it also touches on areas in between a lot more often.



    Some Suikoden villains are... well, they're just bad people and they do bad things. But along with those villains, you get the enemies that are just like you. They're fighting for what they believe in, they're fighting for loyalty, they're fighting (ironically enough) for peace, or sometimes they're just fighting because they're too stupid and sheltered to realize what's going on. There is no right or wrong when it comes to you vs them, it's just two people who took different paths in life and are trying their best. Sometimes they have everyone's best interest at heart just as much as you do, but they settled on a different solution. Defeating them is not always happy and it makes you want to fight harder, not just for your dream, but for their dream as well. And I think that's beautiful.



    2. Mini-Games

    Final Fantasy has had some cool mini-games. Like snowboarding or, best of all, Chocobo Hot & Cold. I know some people absolutely love Blitzball and the motorcycle thing. Triple Triad is insanely popular, and you have its less popular cousin Tetra Master, which I like. Frog hunting, Chocobo races, Sphere Break. These are some great mini-games and I'm always happy to see them in a game, even though I hate a few of them, personally. Coughbliztballcough.



    However, more is ALWAYS BETTER, NO EXCEPTIONS *scarfs down 4 cheesecakes* and something Suikoden does is give you mini-games. In fact, you can recruit people whose sole purpose is to let you play a mini-game. Sometimes an incredibly rigged mini-game that pays out like an exaggerated Christmas from your super-rich grandparents. You can play dice games, card games, weird tile games. You can race dragon-horses or just bet on other people who are racing dragon-horses. You can listen to your companions secrets and choose to grant them forgiveness or to drop buckets on their heads. You can compete in cooking challenges and do cliff climbing and make your own menus and give your characters silly titles and, best of all, cast them in plays about classic stories like Romeo and Juliet and William Tell. Admit it, you'd cast Cloud as Juliet. Don't even pretend this isn't a thing that you want. Also, I wouldn't be opposed to some Final Fantasy characters "accidentally" being shot with an arrow because I cast an inept archer. Just sayin'.



    1. Character Diversity

    This is a big one for me because, as some of you know, I'm cuckoo for characters. Suikoden has an abnormally large cast of characters. You can recruit 108 each game, and that's not including enemies and just people you meet who aren't part of the main 108 Stars of Destiny. Because of this, you get all kinds. Not even including things like dog-people and lizard-people, and literal dogs, and talking barrels, and vampires, and werewolves. You get middle-aged men and women, you get old men and women, you get 12-year-olds, 30-year-olds, 50-year-olds. You get attractive people and people who looked like they were smacked in the face with a brick. You get androgynous people. People who wear revealing clothes and people who dress like they'll melt if the sun touches their skin. You get woman who can punch the crap out of any and every thing and men who act like your mother. You get alcoholics and Priests, you get warriors and students, you get sophisticated people, hard-working people, lazy people, chefs, fortune tellers, bartenders, and everything in-between.



    Now, Suikoden has an advantage there just because of the sheer amount of characters they have. But that doesn't mean that Final Fantasy can't do this on a smaller scale. Have an old woman character. Have a middle-aged man character. Have unattractive characters. Have more racial diversity. Make half of your characters less conventional types. Or just add 2 or 3 that way. I think Final Fantasy is great at story-telling and it would be awesome to see them put some focus in to new types of characters and people and see what they can do with it!



    So that's all folks and I hope you enjoyed. The Final Fantasy series is awesome and it does a lot of great things, but these are just some things I think it would be neat to see more of! Are these things you'd like to see in more Final Fantasy games? What are some things you've seen in other series that you'd like to see Final Fantasy try out?
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 6 Things Final Fantasy Can Take From Suikoden started by Pumpkin View original post
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. sharkythesharkdogg's Avatar
      sharkythesharkdogg -
      I want FF to have a kick-ass fighting game with action missiles.

      I think FF could use a combination of fresh ideas combined with the return of some classic ideas. (Like turn-based combat.)
    1. Loopah's Avatar
      Loopah -
      Quote Originally Posted by sharkythesharkdogg View Post
      I want FF to have a kick-ass fighting game with action missiles.

      I think FF could use a combination of fresh ideas combined with the return of some classic ideas. (Like turn-based combat.)
      In regard to turn-based (i.e. old school) combat, I'm excited to see what SE has in store for us with Project Setsuna.
    1. Loopah's Avatar
      Loopah -
      Thanks for the post. Lots of very insightful views, and was an interesting read.

      One thing I think could be interesting with future FF games is a crossover in battle styles. Inevitably with any new FF release, there will be praisers and haters of the battle system. I think it'd be cool to incorporate a couple of different types/versions of battle in one game. For example, most overworld combat could be the standard 'Attack/Magic/Item' menu, however the moment you hop in a vehicle or other similar travel mechanism, you might switch to a turn based grid-style strategy battle (ala FFT/Advance Wars).
    1. Randy's Avatar
      Randy -
      Character diversity is really not a problem with Final Fantasy. Unless you're just saying they need different races.
      In terms of just very different characters, that's kind what they've always typically done anyway. Look at FF7 and FF9. They almost deliberately design the characters to cover all the different bases. Almost unrealistically so. You never find a group of such different people hanging around together like that in reality.
      FF15 (and FFX-2) are perhaps the only games where the party is a realistic composition (i.e 3 girls going around together or 4 guys going around together is something that actually happens. You very rarely see a young child hanging out with a teenage girl and an old man ala FF4)
    1. Wolf Kanno's Avatar
      Wolf Kanno -
      Quote Originally Posted by Randy View Post
      Character diversity is really not a problem with Final Fantasy. Unless you're just saying they need different races.
      In terms of just very different characters, that's kind what they've always typically done anyway. Look at FF7 and FF9. They almost deliberately design the characters to cover all the different bases. Almost unrealistically so. You never find a group of such different people hanging around together like that in reality.
      FF15 (and FFX-2) are perhaps the only games where the party is a realistic composition (i.e 3 girls going around together or 4 guys going around together is something that actually happens. You very rarely see a young child hanging out with a teenage girl and an old man ala FF4)
      Except with age, FF is pretty bad about large age gaps with only FFIV and VI giving a decent age gap among the cast and even then it still lacks gender and ethnic diversity. In Suikoden you could have a party consisting of an Old Man peddler, a kid playing adventurer, a middle aged beast man, a prominent female knight, teenage warrior, and a dog. That's just from one game. Suikoden is a bit better (though it could still make more strides in this department) about creating a large and diverse cast of playable characters that deal with different, genders, ethnic groups, species and age ranges. The oldest female characters in the FF universe are three 20 year old looking chicks who retain their youth by cryo-crystal sleep making their age more a technicality than something to be awed at. Suikoden has some similar issues with True Rune users but even then it's actually got female characters who are physically and mentally between the 40-70 age range which is kind of unheard of in JRPGs. Barring temporal shenanigans (I'm looking at you XIII Trilogy) and "magic race age" (Hi Fran) the oldest female character in the numbered FF series is Lulu at the ancient age of 22.

      I mean Cid Highwind is portrayed as some middle age old man in his fifties but he's actually in his early thirties (32 to be exact); Cecil and Cloud are considered veteran soldiers and only one of them can legally drink in every country and that's barely. Meanwhile, Viktor is a scrapping 24 year old helping out the Liberation army in Suikoden 1, he's 28 by the war's end and 31 by the start of the second game as he now travels as a grizzled mercenary (who is surprisingly less mopey than his younger counterparts ) so we actually really watch characters grow old and change in a more realistic manner over the hyper-sensationalism of your typical anime/JRPG. Honestly, Chrono Cross has more diversity in it's cast of playable characters than the most of the FF series.
    1. Randy's Avatar
      Randy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wolf Kanno View Post

      Except with age, FF is pretty bad about large age gaps with only FFIV and VI giving a decent age gap among the cast and even then it still lacks gender and ethnic diversity.
      Age and ethnicity are fair enough but how on earth can you say Final Fantasy lacks gender diversity? (I assume you mean sex rather than gender, but almost everyone seems to have forgotten that distinction)
      Nearly all of the mainline FF games have nearly half their cast as male and half as female. When it's an odd numbered cast, it usually skews in favour of male, but saying that a game having 4 male characters and 3 female characters "lacks gender diversity" is a very weird description.

      I'd also say that this kind of diversity you speak of shouldn't necessarily be considered inherently good. It's often in a trade-off with storytelling quality. As I said in the previous comment, it might make you look good and inclusive to have a cast of old women hanging around with teenagers and children but that's not really a plausible piece of storytelling. You can only really achieve that sort of thing in a more whimsical cartoon-like game without it seeming incredibly incongruous (e.g FF9 would work with it. FF15 wouldn't). And whilst I do like that band of misfits kind of approach, it also takes away from how much the audience can relate to a story on a literal level. Not many teenagers hang around with old women in real life. It just doesn't happen. Whereas the story of 4 guys going on a road trip is something that people can directly identify with. That shouldn't be misconstrued as me saying they should ALWAYS do that. FF9 is my favourite game. I like the less realistic stuff a lot. All I'm saying is you can't just present one approach as intrinsically better.
    1. sharkythesharkdogg's Avatar
      sharkythesharkdogg -
      Actually, I think FF (and many RPGs in general) suffer from credibility in areas you were glossing over a bit.

      I find it much more believable that a 19 year old would team up with a 40 year old than portraying that the same 19 year old as some grizzled soldier with years of combat under his or her belt.

      Maybe a 19 year old and a 40 year old won't hang out at the mall too much, but I'm a member of several clubs where people of all ages hang out to share interests. So yes, even small interest can over come age barriers. If that interest is saving the world, then I really doubt something like an age barrier is going to affect that. "Sorry old man, but you're cramping my style. Me and my frat bros are gonna stop the bad guys."

      To me it makes more sense to have some range. Younger characters used for their youth and strength, older characters joining with them for their experience, strength, and discipline. The oldest characters for their wisdom, worldliness, and knowledge.
    1. Randy's Avatar
      Randy -
      Well yes, they obviously twist reality a bit to contrive a cast similarly aged as their audience. If they didn't do that, they'd have to just ditch their majority age demographic or just set every game in a school or university (FF8 garden for example, desperately failed to not be a school)

      As for the variety of ages for different attributes logic, well the problem is that leads to massively overused stereotypes. So you get the wise old man, the naive and energetic young girl, the big muscular but dumb man.
      That's very often the outcome when you construct a cast "backwards" (if you like) i.e you decide roughly the range of attributes you want first and then create the cast to that specification. The alternative which leads to more realistic storytelling is just inventing the characters first and then trying to reason through how this cast would deal with the situation you give them. With that way of thinking, it often pays to change up the formula from time to time to get different results. Which is why I like the idea they're going with 4 guys of the same age for FF15. Not many JRPGs have done that.

      As they pointed out in an interview, you can do things with that cast, like having them all sleeping in a very small tent out in the wilderness, that you couldn't really do with other casts (you certainly couldn't do it if there were a few romances going on between the people in that tent)
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