The Let's Play Archive

Suikoden IV

by vilkacis

Part 2: This mango is tasty

Right, so we've decided that the nameless hero has a name after all.

We're calling him Lazlo.

The name entry music should be familiar to any series veteran.

I'd like to take a moment here to point out that Suikoden characters don't strictly have have official names; you're supposed to name them yourself. It is, however, somewhat difficult to write a story about a character everyone calls, say, "Hey! You" so they tend to get actual names when it comes to novels, comics and such. For this guy, that's the one they went with.

Regardless, we're heading in the back to listen to Glen's speech and eat our delicious steamed bun.

(If you're wondering, it's actually a healing item. We don't need it because we beat Glen without a scratch, but it is still delicious.)

In other words, your long days of training are now over.

Listen to Glen's rambling. (recommended viewing)

Four of our Knights' ships were decimated by just one Kooluk vessel. It was a bitter battle.

"Fucking Rune cannons, how do they work"

Many of my men paid the ultimate price... Most of you probably know this much.

This whole sequence is rather neat. Glen rambles, and our characters listen with... varying degrees of interest.

Why? Because it reminds us of the humiliation we suffered at the hands of a certain man.
The commander of that enemy fleet was a man named Troy. Back then, Troy was not much older than those of you here right now. But...

"...unlike most of you losers, he actually had a name and portrait, and my god, you do not want to see what happens when named characters fight generic mooks."

Even Gaien's veteran Knights were unable to inflict a single scratch on that young man...
You must all strive to become Knights even greater than Troy! Do you understand?! Such a humiliating experience must not be repeated! I have trained you with this intention in mind. I trust that you will all live up to my expectations.


Starting tomorrow, your duty will be patrolling the neighbouring waters. In other words, guard duty. Do your best and do not let your guard down.
Also, your official equipment is still in production. We will contact you when it is complete.

Good timing! I've just about finished that steamed bun.

We're kicked back out into the Hall of Knights courtyard, where this theme plays.

Oh yes... Thank you very much! Come on, Lazlo, let's head towards the town square.

There's not much to do but . Here is the music that plays outside headquarters.

I get the feeling they're trying to herd us somewhere.

Relax... I have it all under control.

Man: You too, Lazlo... Please make sure to protect young Master Snowe.

The city of Razril lies to the right of the hall, through a big gate. It's dark, and there is no music playing here, just the sound of the ocean. There are several shops around this area, but they are all closed right now.

At the far end, there's a group of people waiting for us.

Watch the video - Recommended viewing

He hands Snowe a torch. Snowe stares at it like he's having 'nam flashbacks for a while.

Now, a representative of the Gaien Marines Academy graduates, will perform the "Kindling Ritual"!
Snowe Vingerhut, first son of Vincent, lord of the Village of Razril. This year, I shall conduct the kindling!

This seems to be met with general approval.

Lazlo can't talk, so follow Snowe's lead is just about all he can do.

The "Kindling Ritual" (with proper capitalization and quotation marks) is pretty simple. There's a bunch of people with torches standing along the way, and all we need to do is light them all up.

The torches, not the people.

As always with voiced scenes, he says everything except our name. Maybe Hey! You would have been the best choice after all.

"Are you crazy? Don't you remember what happened last time?"

Hahaha, you don't have to be so humble. It's okay, come on.


"This is a terrible idea."

So now we have to do Snowe's job for him. It's not that hard, really; they're all lined up and all we have to do is walk down the street and talk to anyone holding a torch, which causes us to light it and them to say something about how we're Fine Young Lads Serving Our Country and such. All in all, pretty nice.

(As Jesto brought to my attention, we can also put the torch to other uses; going back down the way we came, we can enter the back streets and get into fights where Lazlo beats people to death with a burning piece of wood. Here's a video showing how that looks.)

Behold, the fruits of our labour!

At the end of the street, we have another cutscene waiting. It's included in the previous video, but even if you don't care for the kindling ritual, you should watch this part.

(I know there's a lot of recommended videos here, but they will become less frequent when we start getting out of the introduction and start the whole gameplay part of the game.)

Fireworks! (See, this is why you should be watching the video.)

I wish that days like this could just go on forever...

As suicidal lines go, that probably ranks close under "they couldn't hit an elephant at this range", "you're outnumbered" or "it's a gundam", but Lazlo decides to keep that to himself.

(Well, not so much "decides to" as "is physically incapable of doing otherwise".)

Forgive me... A Knight should not speak from his heart so freely. Please, forget everything that I just said.


Well then, what do you want to do now? Do you feel like staying and taking a look around?

We actually don't have a choice in the matter; the game locks us in the town square until we've gone around and talked to our friends, who...

...have very...

...uh... interesting things to say.

I think we only actually have to talk to the people with portraits, though, so let's see what they got.

You've done well up to this point, training diligently.

Thanks, I guess. I can't really complain too much if my training usually consists of letting other people take the blame for my fuck-ups and humiliating Glen in single combat.

Hey!! You eating?!

I already had a steamed bun.

Apparently, it's traditional for a Knight to duel with a senior member before taking on his first mission. I'm going to show them a thing or two! You guys will be going, too, right?

Spoiler: the senior knights can one-shot Jewel at level 1. We'll do this the way we always do: Snowe will be doing all the work, I will be getting all the credit, and the rest of you can just do whatever.

So, our first posting is patrolling the neighbouring waters, huh... It's been peaceful here recently, so it should be easy compared to our training.

Oh god why. Why do you do this to me, Keneth.

Sit back and enjoy today. Just don't get too carried away and succumb to overindulgence.

What is this word, "succumb"? I don't know it.


I will.

You, too, Lazlo. After all, it is only fitting that you and Snowe graduate together.

Come on, let's go, Lazlo.

I'm not sure if this is Snowe telling his dad to sod off or if he's telling me we're done here, but in any case, we're done here. Back to the main street!

Oh, no, no... You're a full-fledged Knight now, aren't you? I should address you like a nobleman, shouldn't I?

Sir Lazlo. I like it!

...which one of you fuckers just said "Dame Lazlo"

Most of the NPCs don't have anything useful to say, and it's easy enough to assume this guy is equally unimportant, but we'll see how he's different in just a little bit.

More importantly, however...

Not far from there, we run into something...

...reasonably related, if slightly less .

We're not officially Knights yet. We're trainees... though, we're graduating today.

Fine, fine... But you should know that a girl got taken away by pirates just now! I think it was a kidnapping...

Oh, okay... A-anyway, they headed towards the back street! Please to help her! Um, should I go ask for backup, too?

How about get your ass in my party and we'll go save the day by ourselves, Catman? I know you're playable; you have a portrait and everything.

I guess we've got no choice... All right, Lazlo... Let's go check it out.

We actually do have a choice here; this event is entirely optional. But we're Knights (in training) and rescuing damsels in distress is kind of the job description.

(Except for the part where we cause them distress by invading their countries and killing everything that moves, but we don't like to talk about that.)

First though, let's go bother Chiepoo again...

The bad guys ran towards the back street! They looked strong, so be careful.

I hope you're telling us the truth...

Honest! I swear on my nine lives!


So we head for the back street. We could go for backup, but we all know Glen would just take it as an excuse to tell Snowe he sucks, so let's not - I'm sure we can handle it.

And run straight into our first random encounter. Enemies? In a town? What do you think you are, a Megami Tensei game?!

So now that we're in a fight we can actually win, let's talk gameplay.

(You can listen to the battle theme while you read.)

The battle system in Suikoden IV is rather disappointing. Taken by itself, it is a competent, if generic, turnbased system with all the usual features - attack, defend, magic, items, run away. It retains the unite attack system from earlier titles, the ability to bribe enemies to go away (which no one ever uses), as well as a new command, Rush, which I can't use here and won't get into yet. It's quick and snappy; spell animations are short and sweet (which is a huge improvement over III) and your characters stay in place in a traditional manner, simply running up to hit enemies when their turn comes up and then swiftly jumping back to their spot. All in all, if you've ever played a classic RPG, you know exactly what you're in for.

If this were any other game, I wouldn't really have any complaints. However, the system lacks many of the features we're used to in a Suikoden game. The party has been reduced to four characters and the battle formation is always the same - all four characters standing in a line. Long, medium and short ranged weapons are a thing of the past, and your squishy archers and mages have no choice but to stand on the front lines and take axes to the face all day. This is a big part of what makes Suikoden IV feel like a step back from earlier games. Even though the system used in III had its issues, it was at least trying something interesting, and could have been really good with a bit more polish.

If you've managed to read that whole rant without your eyes glazing over, feel free to congratulate yourself by listening to the victory theme. And if not, well, feel free to listen anyway.

You may also want to check out the Friendship Attack, which Lazlo and Snowe start with. Seems a bit more like "go get them, my minion" attack to me, but... vv

At this point, it's quite handy, not just for damage, but for the fact that it always hits - we're having a bit of an accuracy problem this early on, and it takes both characters hitting an enemy to kill them.

I won't be showing off every chest I come across, but this one is special, because it contains a . This is a consumable (duh) item which restores one MP of each level, which is extremely useful. Of course, it will probably just sit around in my inventory forever because what if I really need it in the next boss fight?

For those new to the series, Suikoden has four levels of magic and you have a number of MP dedicated to each level. Right now Snowe and Lazlo each have one first level MP and can't use second-level magic at all. The magic stat determines how much MP you gain, as well as how many Runes you can have equipped, but we'll get into the rune mechanics later.

The back street isn't very large, but the kidnappers are hidden away in this little area that can be hard to spot.

Girl: Help me... misters...

I came to help that girl!

Pirate: Interesting... Ya wanna fight?! really shouldn't have done that.

We're thrown into a fight with "Kidnapper" and "Kidnapper Underling". They are both pathetic, though Kidnapper has more health than anything else in the area.

We get a questionable pot and a level-up for our troubles. The game is nice enough to fully heal you when you level up, which is quite appreciated.

Be careful, now. Can you make it back to your father by yourself?

Girl: Yes! See you later!

And that's our good deed for the night.

Trying to leave the port prompts Snowe to ask if we've had enough.

Yeah, let's go to sleep. We should rest up for tomorrow's training. Let's meet up in front of the Hall of Knights tomorrow morning. Well, Lazlo, good night.

Pff, we're level 3. We can totally beat the crap out of any- and everything now.

Anyway, it fades to black and we're informed that Snowe has left the party.

Then, it's a brand new day!

Lazlo wakes up in his room. A brief cutscene plays outside the Hall, but it's not worth making a video of.

Tal and the others said they were going to head over to the training hall. Shall we head over there, too?

...and then he joins the party again.

"Tal and the others" are waiting in the area where we listened to Glen's speech. (Well, in Tal's case, barely even pretended to listen to Glen's speech.)

Good morning, Lazlo. You want to get some training in?


All right, let's go!

Knight of Gaien: Now, whoever wants to go first, don't hesitate to charge at me!

Wow, a real Knight sure looks much stronger than I imagined. Snowe, you're not scared, are you?

Scared? Don't be ridiculous! Why are you so... Never mind.
Well then, Lazlo. Let's select our group.

If this had been a proper Suikoden, we wouldn't have needed to do that.

Still, we need to make a choice.

We can only bring two of our fellow Knights along.

This choice does not simply determine who we bring with us today, but also how available these character are through most of the game. The ones we select will join us immediately, while the ones we leave behind will only do so later in the game.

I'll leave the party composition up to the thread. You have two votes, and you can use them both on the same character if there's someone you really like, but either way bold your votes to make it easier on my eyes.