July 11 marked Suikoden Day around the world this year. Fans came together online sharing fan fiction, cosplay, art, and more. It’s an unofficial event completely orchestrated by over 2,500 fans of the 18-year-old series, and for the first time since its inception three years ago, it was acknowledged by Konami.
We’ve seen it in mainstream culture with the Veronica Mars movie project. When a strong fan basis comes together, anything can happen.
The Greater History
Each Suikoden follows the story of the 108 stars of destiny, gifted people who are brought together to fight a greater evil. It’s a story that has stood the test of time, originating from the 14th Century Chinese novel Shui Hu Zhuan, or Water Margin.
Once you read the novel (I’ve only gotten through about a few hundred pages out of 2000), you can spot similarities between characters based on their star. For example, Lu Zhishen (Water Margin) and Viktor (Suikoden I and II) share the Tenko star. Both of them have a lot of brute muscle, eat plenty, and meet the protagonist in the bar of an Inn.
Groups like The Suikoden Revival Movement have taken it upon themselves to gather like-minded fans from across the world with goals such as bringing back the series, distributing merchandise outside of Japan, releasing the first two games on the PSN worldwide, localizing the most recent addition to the series, Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki, outside of Japan, and more. Suikosource, one of the oldest and largest Suikoden fan sites, continues to maintain their messageboard and update articles.
John Im posted on the Suikoden Revival Facebook page, “Suikoden is not just a game, it’s a way of life in my house. There’s always someone playing a Suikoden game everyday. Three generations of us and it’s still very much alive in this house.”
Every player who grew up with Suikoden I or II has a story. It’s just one of those iconic 90’s classics like Final Fantasy 7 or Dragon Warrior, except with more of a cult following than a mainstream one.
A Tiny Kid In a Huge World
As I’ve said before, Suikoden is my favorite game. It’s dear to me because it was the first RPG I ever completed on my own, that is, after watching my dad and sister beat the game. I identified with Tir, the protagonist, since he was so young. I loved that his entourage consisted of people much older than him, similar to how I tagged along with my older sister and her friends, all eight years older than me. Maybe there were more similarities in my daydreaming mind than in reality, but I held onto it. I liked being able to add more in the center of me and Suikoden’s Venn diagram.
There’s something about growing up with RPGs like this one that teaches you the good and the bad of life fast. It also teaches you about the gray areas and the fact that people may not be who they appear to be. The truest motto from Suikoden is that with loyalty, friendship, and an honest goal, great things can be accomplished no mater how alone and small you feel at first.
What Happens Now?
Luckily, there’s a lot to do if you’re a Suikoden fan.
- Buy the game on the Playstation Network for $5.99
- Vote for the newest Suikoden PSP game to be localized on Operation Rainfall
- Continue to thank Konami when they acknowledge the movement
- Find a fan basis like Suikosource or the Suikoden Revival Facebook
- And, of course, replay the games!