| Suikoden II|
幻想水滸伝II Gensōsuikoden II
PlayStation Japanese cover art
The game tells the story of the (player named) adoptive grandchild of a great hero now living a quiet life in the nation he fought against years ago. When the hero's youth brigade is betrayed, he escapes with his best friend but soon he is called upon to lead the fight against his home country.
As a sequel to the first Suikoden, Suikoden II maintained and improved upon many of the mechanics used in the original game. Additional runes, skills and status effects were added to this sequel. The addition of multiple rune slots, depending on the character, opened up the possibility of greater character customisation. A greater variety of character types also helped to improve gameplay.
The war system was revamped, changing Suikoden's Rock-Paper-Scissors type field battles into a grid-based strategic style. These upgrades aside, the core gameplay remained the same. Instead the game is filled with more towns, side-quests, mini-games and other features in order to bring the world of Suikoden II to life.
Along with graphical improvements, a party inventory system, and a "dash" button that allowed the player to move around the screen quicker were added. A transfer of data from the prior game in the series enables returning characters to enter the fray with higher levels and improved weapons. References to the original Suikoden are also added to this feel of continuity, which contributed to the game's popularity.
Suikoden II told the story of the hero, adoptive grandson of the great Jowston hero, Genkaku, now living in the Highland Kingdom. Serving in the Highland youth army, The hero's regiment is betrayed by Highland prince, Luca Blight in order to manufacture a war with Jowston. Escaping with his best friend, Jowy, and adoptive sister Nanami, the three soon find themselves embroiled in Jowston's defence against Highland.
However, Jowy becomes convinced that only one nation can safely protect the region and joins the Highland side, usurping it from within until he becomes King. Meanwhile, the hero, based on his heritage, becomes leader of the forces opposing the Highland advance. Bearing the Bright Shield and Black Sword Runes, the two are destined to oppose each other. The player's forces eventually emerge victorious but the war will not end until the hero and Jowy meet at Tenzan Pass for one final duel....
Lauded by many fans as the best game in the series, Suikoden II spawned no less than three spin-off games before its next direct sequel, Suikoden III, was released in 2002. It was also around this time than Suikoden publications began to be printed in earnest, including a quarterly magazine devoted to the series. Merchandise began to be produced and a collectible card game was released. The four years between Suikoden II and its successor saw the greatest concentration of merchandise and publications produced in the series' history.