Three years after the events of the original game, the nation of Jowston has just signed a ceasefire with the Highland Kingdom. The protagonist, an orphan adopted by the late hero Genkaku, has just joined the army alongside his best friend Jowy. However, they fall afoul of one of the most twisted examples of a False Flag Operation ever attempted, courtesy of Luca Blight. Barely escaping this fate, they soon find themselves saddling with the two halves of the Rune of the Beginning, the BlackSwordRune and the BrightShieldRune. From there, their paths split, as the protagonist takes the traditional hero's route and Jowy sets out to break the system from within, setting the stage for a war where both sides fight for the exact same goal.Suikoden II takes the themes established in the first game and weaves a far more complex plot around them, with heavy doses of Grey and Gray Morality thrown into the mix. Add in plenty of Continuity Nods, the return of several fan favorites and a liberal dose of Player Punches and you've got a game which is still considered the high point of the series by much of the fandom.Character Sheet here!
Battle Boomerang - Millie is the only character in the game with a Boomerang as their weapon.
The Battle Didn't Count - Absurd amounts of grinding makes it possible to defeat Rowd when you fight him in front of your house, but you're still captured afterward. Very amusingly inverted during a boss fight when you recruit Tir. If you lose the fight, your team simply gets back up again, with Riou and Tir destroying the first turn of a following battle
Battle Epic - While not real events, the plot does feature a heavy does of this
Big Book of War - With respect to Silverberg's strategy; lampshaded by Leon and Shu. "Never put your own life in danger, that's the first rule of the book." "I had to throw away the book, you read it too many times."
Most egregiously of all, they forgot to translate certain parts of the text (mostly a few lines of optional villager dialogue and some enemy names in out-of-the-way locations), having it show up as gibberish.
It's not just the text- entire pieces of music are missing. The especially dramatic ones, like the battlefield theme and when Annalee sings. What should have been highlights in the game are rendered several minutes of unskippable, awkward silence.
Boobs of Steel - Oulan has some of the most impressive physical stats, and her Gainaxing suggests her chest is equally impressive.
Book Ends - The game starts out with Riou and Jowy jumping off a cliff after making a pact that they should return to that cliff when they get separated to escape from the ambush of the Highland Army. Two of the endings let you go back in that same cliff where you duel Jowy. One is where he lives if you get all of the 108 and one is where he dies.
But Thou Must - Mostly played to the hilt here; don't talk to Shu before you're sure you're ready to proceed with the plot, or he'll take the decision out of your hands. There are a couple notable exceptions, however...
Canon Name- Though the protagonist has no official name, the Japanese novelization and drama CD gave him the name of Riou, which has become a common Fan Nickname for the character. The name "Tao" has been used as well in a manga adaptation.
Clingy Jealous Girl - Nina, toward Flik, especially when she (falsely) suspects that Nanami may be a rival for his love. To a much lesser extent, there's Eilie, who shows signs of steadily becoming one after developing a rather obvious crush on Riou.
Combat by Champion - Surprisingly subverted, considering the number of one-on-one fights that Riou engages in with important people. Riou's duels only occur either after the "combat by army-scale slaughter" parts, or in places completely unrelated to large-scale conflict.
Cool, but Inefficient - Pesmerga has been accused to this. He starts out as a powerhouse, but joins late, leaves no room for customization, thus the latter-mentioned possible Game Breaker will surpass him. Though to be fair, for a quick-run game (for those who just doesn't want to bother with heavy customization), he's still a good choice.
Cooking Duel - Played completely straight, Hai Yo has to cook his way through an entire tournament over the course of the game.
Cute Mute - Pilika, a sweet child who passes through the hands of various guardians and goes through severe trauma in the process.
Did They or Didn't They? - Never explicitly stated but implied at the beginning of the game with Rina and a random State soldier that blocks the party's path.
Disc One Final Boss - Luca Blight. Up until the point where you fight him, he's been set up as the Big Bad, and it takes a battle involving three parties to take him down. However, if you've been diligent in recruiting allies, you may notice you've only filled up two thirds of the names on the tablet... Naturally, you're not done yet.
Everyone Can See It - Rina wastes no time in teasing Eilie about her crush on Riou. Richmond outright tells him about it, should you have him investigate her. And, although it's never brought up by any of the characters, Kasumi's crush on Tir is as painfully obvious as it was in the first game.
Evil Laugh - Luca Blight's distinctive "HOO HOO HOO HA HA HA HA HA!!!"
The Evil Prince - Prince Luca Blight, though Bat Shit Insane Prince is more accurate.
Exact Words - Sierra promises not to harm Neclord if he returns the True Moon Rune to her. After he does so, she lets Viktor kill him.
False Flag Operation - The game opens with Riou and Jowy almost falling victim to one of these. Your army sort of pulls off one of their own later on, by getting several forcibly conscripted units to switch sides.
Foregone Victory - Somewhat subverted. There is a boss fight during the quest in which you recruit Tir, the main character from the first game. The battle itself is mildly difficult, and it is possible to lose. However, you almost immediately enter another battle against the same boss...in which Tir and Riou will nuke it with their most powerful rune spells (despite Riou not even knowing his), instantly killing it. So even if you lose the battle, you still beat it, and your team even gets EXP for it.
Fore Shadowing - If you have Richmond investigate Georg, you will learn about an incident that occurred in the Queendom of Falena, something that players would not witness until Suikoden V, a game that came about 7 years later. Unless your memory is really good (or you played Suikoden V not long after playing Suikoden II), you likely won't appreciate that bit of information. Gotta hand it to Konami for planning that far ahead with the timeline.
Freudian Excuse - Some of the supplemental material gives Luca Blight one of these. As a child he witnessed the rape of his mother and his father proved to be completely spineless in stopping it. He was never the same after that day. This is vaguely alluded to in the scene where Luca has his father poisoned.
Gainaxing - The Neclordia enemies jiggle their breasts every few seconds.
Oulan's breasts jiggle in her normal sprite animation.
Game-Breaking Bug - Thanks some really bad programming, certain items will glitch and become unavailable if you trigger certain conditions (the notorious Recipe 12 and 34 glitch being the worst).
Genki Girl - Nanami, Nina (to the annoyance of Flik), Wakaba
The Clive and Elza subplot requires you to reach many different points in the game by a certain amount of time played. These time limits are not nice, and anyone not rushing through the game (Unlikely, given the games 'recruit em all' nature) is unlikely to go beyond just recruiting Clive, and MAYBE getting the first letter.
Speaking of time limits... Preventing Nanami's death requires (among quite a few other things) extremely quick selection on a particular dialogue choice. Even if you get it right, the game won't tell you if you got it right until the scene where doctor Huan declares her dead. If you get it right, there is a short additional dialogue in which Huan asks Shu to follow him inside the infirmary. The nature of why Huan asked Shu inside is revealed in the True Ending.
Hopeless Boss Fight - The first "Major Battle" War has Luca springing a surprise attack after the Justified Tutorial. It is impossible to get the third "sword" symbol onto his personal unit indicating a successful attack which will defeat said unit. (Little surprise, given what happens when you do much later.)
100% Completion - Unachievable if you consider "recruit every available character" as a requirement. You have to choose between two characters at one point (see Schrödinger's Gun), and you don't have enough Listening Crystals to recruit every available monster.
Informed Ability - On paper, Leon Silverberg is the greatest strategist in the series but from what we see in the actual game, he can't hold a candle to Shu, let alone Lucretia Merces or Albert Silverberg. He does, however, acknowledge that his reputation is overblown, and that he's past his prime.
In the supplemental material, it's revealed that he takes his blind little sister from Kyaro and flees after the war. He was trying to gain enough money to have "a doctor in Toran" (most likely Liukan) cure her illness, hence why he went along with Luca's schemes in order to get promoted.
Jowy in the best ending. No matter what his excuses or his reasons he is a murderer, conspirator, accessory to genocide and directly responsible for perpetuating a costly and brutal war.
Kick the Dog - Luca Blight does this for kicks. Shu also engages in a fair amount of puppy-punting, especially when he uses Pilika as a human shield and abandons her to the enemy so that the hero may escape from an otherwise hopeless trap. Granted, he did this knowing Jowy would never let any harm come to her, but it still came off as rather asshole-ish.
Knife-Throwing Act - Which, depending on the choices you make, can go horribly wrong. Not that it has an effect on the story though.
Lethal Joke Character - Hai Yo the chef comes with three rune slots, giving him insane tweaking potential despite having poor stats.
Lethal Joke Item - The Fire Sealing Rune you get while Riou and Jowy spy at the Highland camp. Useless if you're fighting against enemies who use Water type attacks seeing as you get double the pain. Use it against Luca Blight and laugh at the damage he'll inflict on you.
A way around the aforementioned double-damage from Water attacks is to wear equipment that reduces water damage, so it's fine.
Long Song, Short Scene - The general-purpose Duel theme, "The Time for Confrontation," features an intro roughly a minute long and takes about another minute and a half to complete a whole play cycle. The theme is used exclusively for duels; as in, one-on-one narrative battles that, unless you truly relish taking your time, are over very quickly. The song wouldn't be quite as wasted as it is if the duel with Luca Blight, which is the one duel you might spend the requisite amount of time upon, didn't have its own theme, "Mad Luca."
Mayfly-December Romance - Nash Latkje a seemingly ordinary man from a not so ordinary family and Sierra Mikain the oldest vampire in the world. They traveled together to hunt for Rean Penenberg a man that turned into a vampire because Sierra drank his blood.
Non-Standard Game Over - At one point, Nanami can convince Riou to desert the army and run for it. This triggers Shu giving Riou a What the Hell, Hero? speech, after which you can return and face the consequences... or run away again and end the game.
Obvious Beta - Let's be honest here, while the gameplay and story itself are top notch, the English localization reeked of this.
It also retroactively makes the first game look like an Obvious Beta, given how many of the second game's new characters are blatant expies of characters from the first game, not to mention the entire game engine is basically an extremely polished version of the engine from the first game.
Quickly Demoted Woman - A self-demoting example in Apple. Somewhat justified by her severe lack of self-confidence, shaken up worse by a jarring setback that prompts her to seek out a 'better replacement' for the rebellion's own good.
not quite, if you are good at duels it does not matter how much HP he has left. Just don't mess up...once
Even worse, the first few times, you're likely to fail in the duel at the end. Have fun doing it over.
To clarify: First, there's an army battle where your entire army attempts to crush his unit and fails. Then, thanks to his lieutenants betraying him, Luca's small raiding party is surrounded and attacked by the entire Jowston army. Then the hero, Flik, and Victor each lead a full-sized party of what could be considered elite soldiers into a three-stage boss fight where (unless the player's done some level grinding) Luca still nearly stomps everyone flat. Luca then escapes, and is shot by an entire unit of archers. When Riou finally finds Luca, he charges Riou and forces a duel, which if you didn't do enough damage to him in the aforementioned three-stage boss fight, can be so difficult as to be Un Winnable. He only expires after he's been beaten to near-death with tonfa.
Viktor and Flik are their similarly colour-coded Alliance counterparts.
Miklotov and Camus as well. Interestingly, they lead the Blue and Red Knights, respectively, opposite of what their personalities dictate.
Schrödinger's Gun - Interestingly, one character is a Schrodinger's Star: Tomo. The player has to choose between recruiting just one of two returning characters; Tomo automatically receives the other's Star of Destiny. This is the only case of this happening in the series, and is simply a way of getting around a gameplay mechanic.
Sequence Breaking - By pushing the gate of the Matilda Border, the player can access the region far, FAR earlier than it is intended. By using a simple strategy the player can survive a wild encounter and level up to three characters about 20 times in one single fight, with an Inn nearby. In about 15 minutes you can have the party to be strong enough to take about half of the game with ease, with the bonus of being able to use one of Jowy's ludicrously overpowered spells that you aren't even supposed to see until near the end of the game.
By going a little farther you can recruit two characters that wouldn't join until WAY later. And it's funny to see they refer to the hero with a title he isn't even near to acquire; it's also nice to have an earlier user of the Heavy Armor trait in major battles.
Not to mention that he uses a rune he's yet to obtain, depending on how early you do this.
Shout-Out - There's a row of five flowerpots near the entrance of Greenhill. Examining four of them will give the description 'Dahlias'. The second one from the right, on the other hand, says 'Dahlia Gillespie', a reference to another Konami series.
Trauma Conga Line: A few. Notably, the main character goes through one that arcs across the entire game, especially if you don't get the Good Ending. He's betrayed by his captain, betrayed by his friend, and loses his sister in the ensuing war. Pilika is also a fair contender for this
Triumphant Reprise: "We Will Always Be" consists of an awesome version of the cooking minigame theme (yes, really!) and a positive reprise to "Heart-Softening BGM 3".
Tsundere - Tengaar returns, three years older and just as tsun-tsun and dere-dere as ever.
Unexplained Recovery - If a character dies during one of the wars in the first game, and you import that file when you start a new game, that character (assuming they appear in II) will be alive and well, with no explanation. It is lampshaded, but that's it. Gremio is an exception.
Villainous Breakdown - Luca when the locket he picks up turns out to be filled with fireflies that alert the heroes to his position. Neclord when Sierra shows up and seals his True Moon Rune preventing him from escaping from Kahn's trap.
Lots and lots of revenge. Highland and the City-States had been warring for years, with the occasional truce that failed to last. The most recent war was sparked because, in addition to Luca Blight being fucking insane, he wanted to kill everyone in the City-States for his mother's rape/death. Oh, and he wanted to kill everyone in the Highlands because his father didn't seem to care about his mother's rape/death. Basically, he wanted to kill everyone.
It helps that the guy responsible for his mother's rape/death was the then-Mayor of Muse, who is pretty much at the center of the City-States; he's personally responsible for a LOT of the bad feeling on both sides.
William Telling - The hero participates in a traveling circus's show by having various pieces of fruit placed on his head while knife-thrower Eilie impales them with expert precision. You can throw off her aim and get hit with a knife yourself by choosing to wimp out and move to either side before she throws.