Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Suikoden

Go To

"Even at his most powerless, man's existence is never without meaning."

The first installment of the Suikoden series; naturally, many of the series' long-running themes are established herein.

The young son of Imperial General Teo McDohl lives a comfortable, happy life in the Scarlet Moon Empire with his famous father, house full of personal bodyguards, and best friend Ted. However, everything gets turned upside down when he winds up with the Soul Eater, one of the 27 True Runes, stuck on his right hand. Turns out the empire's really interested in said True Rune, and young McDohl finds himself roped into the Liberation Army and forced to face off against his father and his country. An HD remaster of Suikoden I and II was announced September 16, 2022 for a release date sometime in 2023.

Suikoden provides examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Windy sought the power of the Soul Eater for centuries, destroyed the village in which it was originally kept in, drove the protagonist to turn against the Scarlet Moon Empire, and threw the entire nation into civil war...but when she finally gets into a position to claim it, the rune rejects her. Her quest for power not only failed in the end, but it was doomed from the very beginning.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The original US boxart made the characters look less anime and more out of a Western fantasy novel. While this was common practice during the third and fourth generations of video gaming, by the time the fifth gen gained traction, anime became more accepted among American audiences, which is why the practice was dropped from the second game onward.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: Objects you bring to the appraiser, such as pots and paintings, can be displayed in the bathhouse - or sold for cash.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Experience gained scales with level, so if you’re suddenly forced to use a character you’ve otherwise neglected, you can get them up to an acceptable level quickly.
    • If you queue up a healing item and you defeat the enemy/enemies before the item usage comes up, the item will get used before the victory screen, preventing any situations where you forget to heal between battles and start a new fight with a unit near-death.
  • Anti-Grinding: Experience gained scales with level - once you’ve reached a high enough level, you’ll go from getting multiple levels per battle to getting single-digit experience.
  • Anti-Villain: Teo McDohl and Ain Gide, who are just fighting the protagonist's side for their country. Emperor Barbarossa is revealed to be one as well at the end, as his actions were only motivated by his misguided love for Windy. The other four Great Generals also start out as this but they can all join your side eventually.
  • Back from the Dead: Gremio, if you recruit all 108 characters.
  • Berserk Button: To quote Ronnie Bell:
    "You bums! Calling me 'giant woman' over and over. I'll teach you a lesson!"
  • Betting Mini-Game: Certain recruits open up betting games. The dice game in particular is a useful method of building up gold to upgrade your characters.
  • Big Bad: Windy. While Barbarossa is The Emperor, it's ultimately her who controls the Scarlet Moon Empire thanks to the brainwashing Black Runes and Barbarossa's love for her. Also, it's her pursuit of the Soul Eater Rune that causes the plot.
  • Blessed with Suck: Guess what the Soul Eater does? Oh, it just sucks the souls out of your closest friends and family to power itself up, is all.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • Not too bad for its time really, except for Stallion's "True Holy Rune" that isn't one of the True Runes at all; a better rendering would have been the Godspeed Rune.
    • An imperial commander makes a declaration about how 'God is dead', while in the original he just declares that deals with rebels are worthless.
    • Really what does it in are minor grammar mistakes, mostly using the wrong tense or plural form, that pile up.
    • At one point, Kirkis says, "After returning from Dwarves' Village" for no apparent reason. This is due to the localization team accidentally including a developer's note into the dialogue, resulting in Gremio saying Kirkis's actual line, Valeria saying Gremio's line, and so on until the actual final line in this dialogue chain (Kirkis expressing disbelief and telling the player to hurry) ended up being unused.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Pahn. He comes around later, giving the player enough time to prepare for his later Heroic Sacrifice attempt to hopefully avoid Redemption Equals Death
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • Two of the Five Imperial Generals (Kwanda Rosman and Milich Oppenheimer), thanks to Windy's Black Runes. Teo McDohl, Sonya Schulen, and Kasim Hazil all avert this and are opposed to the Liberation Army of their own will.
    • Subverted by Emperor Barbarossa, though, who only pretends to be brainwashed.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When confronting Neclord in his castle, Viktor angrily asks the vampire if he remembers Viktor's home town of Northwind, which he destroyed. While Neclord admits to vaguely recognizing Viktor thanks to the Star Dragon Sword sending him and the rest of the party back in time to when Windy tried to first steal the Soul Eater, he admits Northwind rings zero bells for him.
  • But Thou Must!: An egregious example occurs when you must choose to drink the tea that is obviously poisoned.
    "Not if it's bitter!"
  • Canon Name: The protagonist does not have an official name, but the Japanese novelization and drama CDs gave him the name of "Tir". The name "Ryui" has also been used in a manga.
  • Captain Ersatz: Maximilian, for Don Quixote, Stallion, bizarrely, for Sonic The Hedgehog and Fu Su Lu for Guin from Guin Saga.
  • Chain of Deals: To recruit Sarah, you have to get her some soap, which involves one of these. Once you get it, for her, it turns out she found some herself in the meanwhile.
  • Character Development: Flik gradually matures from a Clingy Jealous Boyfriend who blames McDohl for Odessa's death to a driven, loyal companion. And this turns out to be just the start for him...
  • Character Select Forcing:
    • Some characters require you to bring another character in your party to be recruited, and then there's Anji-Kanak-Leonardo: Not only you have to bring both Tai Ho and Yam Koo with you, you have to fight them while having the two of them in your party. If you haven't been training them, this can be bad news.
    • For the last dungeon of the game, you're required to bring Viktor and Flik with you. The mitigating factor of this is that they're generally pretty good.
    • Despite having six playable characters at any given moment, two instances - Kwanda’s Fortress and carrying the upgraded boat to Rikon - require you to use six predetermined characters with no swapping allowed.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Fire Spears, which you deliver the plans for early in the game, eventually get used to counter Teo's armored cavalry. On top of that, they get used again in the sequel.
  • Combination Attack: Introduced Unite attacks, which would remain a staple of the series.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Gremio's Heroic Sacrifice involves him being trapped alone in a room and eaten alive by man-eating spores. He does get better if you collect all the stars.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Soul Eater is described as "the most wicked of the True Runes", but at the end, it rejects Windy.
    • The 108 Stars of Destiny gathering (or just missing one, actually) reveal that there's a reason why Soul Eater's full title of 'Rune of Life and Death', it's not just about getting people to die a lot. By gathering the 108 stars, it allowed the Soul Eater to get into the 'Life' part by letting Gremio get revived by the Gate Rune, all while not nerfing itself (therefore, despite reviving Gremio, he'll still appear as the apparition that rejected Windy). Though unlike the prequel's Rune of Punishment, it's not clear if Soul Eater will still have the nasty habit of devouring other souls afterwards, so Tir is always on a lookout and distancing himself from others further.
  • Dead Star Walking: Gremio and Ted prominently appear in opening movies and accompany your loading screen if it's not Tir. In a way, they are pretty important, but Ted leaves permanently very early in the game, and late in the game when he 'returns', he dies. Gremio dies halfway in the game and spends the majority of the game in the realm of the dead, unless you collect all 108 Destinies and revives him... only for the final segment of the game.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Ah, Brainwashed and Crazy, where would the Stars be without you? Though you gotta watch for those recruits who aren't brainwashed...
  • Degraded Boss: The Queen Ant is the invincible boss in the early game that ended up forcing the reveal of Ted's Soul Eater and then caused lasting trouble for Tir and friends and the whole continent. You can encounter a lot of defeatable versions as normal enemies later in Seek Valley.
  • Dragged by the Collar: Or, in Sheena's case, his ear. It's not shown explicitly due to graphic limitation of its day, but his spoken words spell them all out when Lepant, his father, drags him off to the HQ.
    Sheena: Ouch! Ouch! I'll do what you say, so don't pull my ear!
  • Dragon Rider: The Dragon Knights.
  • Duel Boss: Featured a different battle system for one-on-one battles, which became a consistent element in the series. Surprisingly, there's only three in this game: One with Kwanda Rosman and two with Teo McDohl.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The only installment that don't play Jeane up as the Ms. Fanservice or Viki being an utter ditz. Also Leknaat being a little more flirty instead of utterly mysterious.
    • Some aspects of the battle system. There's only one rune slot for all party members, meaning only one rune can be equipped to any of them. From Suikoden II, there's three rune slots, some of which can only be equipped to some slots, and the amount open varying per character.
    • The war battles have a simple rock-paper-scissors system in this game, with them being more like Strategy RPGs in the later games.
    • The lack of several features that would become staple in the series and also gives further characterizations to the plot-irrelevant characters, making characterizations rather archaic: Bath dialogues are non-existant (II will feature a few, but it's not until III that the series gives you tons) so Bath only exists to dump urns and paintings. And lastly? There's no 'detective' character to peek into the secrets of the characters you recruited.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Played straight with runes, played sans elements during war battles and one-on-one duels.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Soul Eater and the Star Dragon Sword.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Soul Eater Rune is widely considered to be the most evil of the True Runes (and with good reason), but even it is disgusted by Windy, and refuses to accept her as its wielder. More downplayed in a way that the standard was because Windy was evil, but more like she is about to break the rule of 'No person can hold two True Runes at once', seeing that Windy already had Gate Rune.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: This dialog:
    Grady: Please take this. A small gift from the villagers.
    Kanaan: Well, thank you very much.
    Found 10,000 bits!
    Kanaan: This is dangerous, so I'll hold on to it.
    10,000 bits stolen!
  • Mr. Fanservice: Flik, who helps you recruit one woman by drinking tea with her all night long.
  • Fantastic Aesop: If you forgive the murderer of your friend/caregiver you can bring them back to life!
  • Fantastic Racism: Quite a bit. The dwarves hate the elves, the elves loathe and fear the dwarves, both groups think humans are dumber than dirt, the humans believe themselves superior to other races, and the xenophobic kobolds hate everyone. Fortunately, there are a few beings on each side who know that's all a bunch of crap, and most of the races generally get better as the game goes on. Except for the elves, most of whom die from Kwanda's Burning Mirror, but the few who escaped the attack do join your side.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Sanchez's name isn't inscribed on Luc's tablet of the 108 Stars of Destiny.
    • Viktor suggests that Gremio shouldn’t join the party for the excursion into Soniere, as he has a feeling something bad will happen if Gremio joins. He’s right.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • The Earth Rune's Clay Guardian and Guardian Earth spells are supposed to increase the allies' defense, but somehow it does not work.
    • In early game (before getting to Toran Castle), there's a bizarre glitch where Gremio and/or Pahn will be arbitrarily swapped in and out of the party. If you save while this glitch is in effect, you're effectively screwed, since you won't have the right party makeup to progress through story scenes.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Gremio has poor stat growth until level 60, and the lag will really become noticeable around the midgame - the point at which he openly wonders if Tir still needs to be watched over.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the story, McDohl is repeatedly cautioned in the strongest possible terms not to use the Soul Eater's power. In-game, the player can repeatedly use its incredibly useful magic without any ill effects whatsoever.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere:
    • The Crystal Core, a floating crystal ball found up in the mountains that seems to have no purpose than to provide a boss fight. Lampshaded in this case, since a character will exclaim "What the hell!" before the fight.
    • The following boss, Shell Venus, is another example. It's a large and surprisingly dangerous shell in the way of the flood gate control in Shasarazade, and has just as much context.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: When your party reaches the end of Dragon's Den, the cave suddenly widens and the party walks off a cliff. However, they do not fall down until one of your party members points out that they are standing in the middle of nothing.
  • The Grim Reaper: The Soul Eater invokes his imagery, its symbol looking like a robed figure brandishing a large scythe.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Ted and Odessa, who are not part of the 108 Stars of Destiny.
  • Guide Dang It!: Recruiting several of the stars qualifies as this. Special mention goes to recruiting Mathiu's uncle Leon. To do so, you need to get the castle up towards its maximum size, which Leon will remark upon the next time you talk to him. Next, you have to get Mathiu to write him a letter asking for his services. Now, this ordinarily wouldn't be a problem, but since Mathiu is your strategist, talking to him normally causes him to ask you if you're ready to advance the plot. If he's doing this, he can't write the letter, so you have to do it in a lull in the storyline. There are only two points where this can happen, and you need to have recruited every other available character for it to work. It's all a bit much even for an optional character.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Only the Howling Voice Guild uses guns in this world. Clive is one of the best damage dealers you get, though.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Young McDohl can be named whatever you please. Same goes for your base and army.
    • Due to data read error, when you use an Old Save Bonus to unlock extra stuff in Suikoden II, McDohl doesn't really get renamed. Instead, the first letter of his name in Suikoden becomes the first letter of his name in Suikoden II. So, he could be named TcDohl. In other words, name him something that begins with an M. This doesn't apply to the PAL version, however, which transfers his full name properly.
    • According to, McDohl's name in Suikoden II gets overwritten by uppercase letters, so if you named the main character in all lower case letters, the second game would still have his name as McDohl. However, whatever you name him is saved and carried over to the third installment in full form, so if you named him Tir, the play about Suikoden I's main character refers to him as Tir McDohl.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Tir right after Gremio's death.
    • Kirkis, once the Village of the Elves burns down. Thinking his love, Sylvina, was there when it happened, he doesn't take it well. Gremio, of all people, winds up bringing him out of it pretty quick.
      Kirkis: "That's right. In vain. All of our efforts were in vain. But why? Why? Please tell me, Master Tir. What good were our efforts? Why did this happen? We did our best! I was insulted, abused, but I fought on. And yet...yet...Nothing! Nothing remains! Everything I tried to protect. When everything was over, I planned to give this ring to Sylvina. Poor Sylvina. Now this ring has no hand to adorn. It's useless now. There's nothing..."
      Gremio: "Kirkis, this ring is your hope. And you must never give up hope. With just a little bit of hope, you can survive, live on. And that goes for humans as well as elves."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • The ship-builder Gen and the alchemist Kamandol give off this vibe.
    • Alen and Grenseal, Teo's knights.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Double subverted, in that it's out in the open and rather easy to find, but to even get there, you need an elf with you to traverse the Great Forest, or else you will be stuck in a looping screen. The other problem: They're not very hospitable toward humans, though.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: What's proper kunoichi attire? Kasumi says bright red and no pants! And the Shrike Rune involves high-jumping! Um...
    • To say nothing of Fuma in his bright red outfit. Really, only Kage gets it right.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • The fight against the Queen Ant before Ted takes her on solo and banishes her to hell.
    • The first fight against Neclord, nothing you do will have any effect against him.
  • I Call It "Vera": Traditionally, the men from Warriors' Village name their weapons after what is most important to them. Usually, it's the girl they love.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    "A machine that runs on oil? Sounds ridiculous."
  • Jerkass: Leknaat's young servant Luc. He possesses the True Wind Rune, which makes him one of the most powerful mages in the game. He uses its power mostly to be a petty dick.
  • Killer Rabbit: In Mt. Tigerwolf, the player can encounter Slasher Rabbits as one of the Random Encounters. They wield axes and wear little helmets.
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: Near the beginning of the game, the party is given a reward for getting rid of some bandits, cuing a happy little Item Get! sound. Then the Obstructive Bureaucrat tagging along steals it, and this happens instead.
  • Level-Locked Loot: Would you believe characters? Lorelai and Eikei both require Tir to be over a certain level to recruit themnote ; Rubi requires Kirkis to be over level 40.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: The Scarlet Moon Empire is in collapse and growing more tyrannical over time in large part because Emperor Barbarossa's infatuation for Windy combined with his grief for his late wife has made him effectively turn his rule over to the sorceress.
  • Multiple Endings: Collect all 108 Stars of Destiny to get the best ending!
  • Mystical 108: The entire premise of the game is collecting 108 characters: the "Stars of Destiny."
  • Never Found the Body: Invoked. Odessa Silverberg suffers lethal wounds during an Imperial attack. Before she dies, she asks Tir McDohl to weigh her body down and throw it in an underground river, so that friend and foe alike do not learn of her death. He does so, and keeps the secret for the better part of a year, revealing the ruse only when La Résistance is fully established.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Sort of; the Soul Eater has four spells like any other rune, but McDohl only gains access to each successive spell after certain plot points. Mostly a subversion, though, as not only the new skills have no relation to the plot, they are gained after the Soul Eater eats the soul of someone close to you, so the powerup is vaguely justified.
  • No Hero Discount: Seriously. Great, you have a headquarters with an item shop, an armoury, a blacksmith... not to mention that the shopkeepers are all in your employ. Can you expect to get any goods and services for free (or at least a hey-I'm-the-commander-of-this-army discount)? Nope.
  • Non-Action Guy: Hix can fight—he just isn't very good, and prefers avoiding combat when he can. Unfortunately, the poor guy lives in the Warriors' Village and has Tengaar as his love interest, and she's bound and determined to make him a man. A bit of a subversion, though, as Hix has good stat growth and can be quite a good fighter if you give him the right rune.
  • One-Winged Angel: So you finally arrived at the final battle, ready to kick the (completely human) Big Bad's-WHAT THE HELL?! HE JUST TRANSFORMED INTO A GIANT FUCKING GOLDEN DRAGON!!
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Clive chasing after Elza.
  • Open-Ended Boss Battle: Pahn's duel with Teo. However, if you lose, Pahn dies.
  • Our Elves Are Different: For a start, they're not very smart, yet they think they're the most advanced civilization around despite being the smallest faction. Then there's Stallion, an off-beat blue haired speedster.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: The Great Forest can act as this after you pass through the Fortress of Kwaba near the start of the game. While you can't get past the first screen of it yet, the enemies in that screen, like the Kobolds, will be enough to propel your characters a good six or seven levels in a single battle and are easily dispatched with area effect magic, like the Fire Rune Cleo normally has at this point. It's a good idea too, since the next dungeon is Toran Castle, which has a tough boss, and the extra levels can really help.
  • Permadeath: Make a bad decision during the war battles and most of your stars are vulnerable to this. Don't worry, they'll let you know via dramatic Last Words before you're informed of their demise. Oddly, if you use a game with dead characters to get the Old Save Bonus for Suikoden II, the dead people are alive and well. This is even lampshaded in the second game.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Did you forget to recruit Leon Silverberg before the assault at Shasarazade? Say goodbye to the 100% Completion! note 
  • Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You: Expect many recruits to give you this option if they were Brainwashed and Crazy and did something unforgivable. Or if they just committed a Face–Heel Turn. But don't do it.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Tir, as commander of the Liberation Army, will be given the task of deciding whether captured Imperials should be put to death. Most troops will endorse this, but a couple times, someone will raise a red flag and ask for the person to be spared. No such objection is raised for Kraze, though. He's also the only character you can willfully kill off without sacrificing a Star of Destiny.
  • Plotline Death: Ted, Odessa and Gremio all die in cutscenes. The latter can be resurrected, but there's no way to save the former two. Pahn is another potential example, but this can be prevented.
  • Production Foreshadowing: One of the Old Books that can be collected is a narration on Suikoden's version of the world's origin. It mentions a battle between the Shield and the Sword, and the origin of the 27 True Runes. Guess which runes are involved in the main plot of the next game. It even manages to foreshadow the main conflict in Suikoden II.
  • Really 700 Years Old: It turns out that all True Rune bearers are subject to this, including Windy and Joshua, the holder of the Dragon Rune.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Can be averted in one case; you have to beef up Pahn before his Leave Him to Me! moment against Teo McDohl and fight very carefully, otherwise he'll die and you lose out on the best ending.
    • Played straight with Emperor Barbarossa.
  • Required Party Member: Any given leg of the quest will have Tir journeying with someone who has to do with the plot at hand. Also, Gremio insists on coming with him up until his Plotline Death. This is rather annoying come end-game when one half of your party is made up of required people.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: At one point several party members refer to a machine as a "contraction." A contraption is a machine. A contraction refers to something shortening or to a shortened form of a phrase, such as "it's" for "it is."
  • Self-Made Orphan: A rare heroic example can be found here with... the main character.
  • Sequence Breaking: If you go outside before talking to anyone, you can level up quickly, then get your first companion and go outside with him as well. Going to an area you aren't supposed to go to until later will get you a good rune. If you go alone, it's double experience. Going with a friend gets you double money. And you get items to make your characters regen along the way as well.
  • Shock and Awe: Flik's not called 'Blue Lightning' for nothing.
  • Shout-Out: The animation of Ronnie Bell's Hate Rune. It looks similar to a sphere made of concentrated battle aura being launched at its opponent to me.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Mathiu Silverberg is a strategist who was formerly a pacifistic teacher, who was formerly a master strategist in the Imperial army. His sister Odessa is a rebellious girl, leads the Liberation Army, and at one point calls out Mathiu as a coward.
  • Something about a Rose: Milich Oppenheimer really likes roses.
  • Sour Supporter:
    • Flik starts as one, due to Odessa's death. He gets better after Gremio's Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Sonya Shulen. She states after you recruit her that she's joining you only so that she can watch you die in battle.
  • Sprint Shoes: The Holy Rune, which doubles walking speed when the run button is held down in a dungeon or village, and Stallion's Godspeed Rune, which does the same, but also increases walking speed on the world map.
  • Stargazing Scene: The Hero converses with Odessa while staring at the stars, and Odessa tells him her wishes and goals for the resistance.
  • The Stoic: Humphrey is one of the first instances of this in the series.
  • The Strategist: Mathiu Silverberg for the Liberation Army. His student Apple and uncle Leon Silverberg are also strategists, but this only affects gameplay, though they do have a larger role in the sequel's plot.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: The tea. After just hearing rumors that people who visited a certain inn end up drugged and robbed, the group visits and inn and are immediately offered tea. Everyone else drinks up and waits for Tir to do the same. He can refuse, technically, as many times as he wants. But if you want to advance the plot, you have to drink the tea.
  • Suplex Finisher: Kasumi's Shrike Rune allows her to do this to opponents many times larger than her.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Battle Couples Lepant/Eileen and Hix/Tengaar can be any type. The former is supposed to be a Type 2, if not for a Game-Breaking Bug.
  • Treachery Cover Up: Happens near the end with Sanchez's reveal as The Mole.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Mathiu pulls off this tactic to free Viktor and Warren from Moravia.
  • Tsundere: Tengaar. Made even scarier when you realize she bears a slight resemblance to another red-headed mega-tsundere... And just to hammer it home, her boyfriend is a soft-spoken wuss capable of killing men three times his weight in single combat if properly motivated.
  • Updated Re-release: The Saturn port of the game makes a few changes to the game, including adding a couple of minigames, changing the rules of existing ones, and elaborating on Gremio's death and subsequent resurrection.
  • The Wandering You: The world map is rather large and it takes a bit of walking to get from one place to another. However the trope ends up subverted in that when the game detects that you are walking in a straight line in one direction it will decrease the encounter rate. If the player starts zig zagging or walking in circles then the encounter rate would go up.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Sanchez's fate is never elaborated upon in the game itself, because he's not a Star of Destiny and doesn't get mentioned in the epilogue. Supplementary materials reveal that after the end of the war, he was pardoned by President Lepant to avoid a scandal, made to swear that he will not associate with any Republic officials, and ends up entering Qlon Temple to live quietly. Of course, these materials never made it out of Japan.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: The Soul Eater rune does this. It is implied to manipulate fate to cause the people nearest to the bearer to die off so it can feed.