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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is somewhat tamer than earlier, slightly more mature entries in the prolific Suikoden franchise. The series' violence and sexuality has been toned down, and the narrative, while compelling, involves less in the way of death and tragedy than what was present in previous games. That said, be aware that there is some minor profanity, a few female characters show cleavage, and the game's battles, while not bloody or graphic, are frequent. The game has thought-provoking themes including determinism: are we in control of our future or not? There is a lot of reading required.
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What's it about?
The first entry in the popular Suikoden series of role-playing games to be released for the Nintendo DS, SUIKODEN: TIERKREIS puts players in control of a massive group of characters (more than 100) who are united against an cult-like order that believes all things in the world are predetermined. The game's complex narrative is extremely text heavy, with frequent and lengthy sessions of dialogue popping up both in towns and dungeons, but it is completely self-contained; no knowledge of previous Suikoden games is necessary.
The battle system, which involves simple turn-based attacks and defensive posturing, will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has previous experience with traditional Japanese role-playing games, as will the simple economy, which involves selling trade goods found while fighting and using the coins earned to purchase new equipment. These two elements make up the majority of play.
Is it any good?
There's a lot to like about this epic role-playing game. It sports gorgeous, hand-drawn backgrounds and dozens of high-quality anime cut-scenes. What's more, the characters who populate these scenes are generally quite likeable, thanks in no small part to the expertly penned dialogue they've been given. Plus, the game introduces some thought-provoking metaphysical themes concerning predeterminism and the possibility of infinite worlds. And with a story that lasts scores of hours, it provides excellent bang for your gaming buck.
Unfortunately, the action can grow tedious. The game's random battles, which start up every few seconds while exploring dungeons, aren't very challenging and become repetitive in short order, serving no more purpose than to let characters earn experience and find trade goods. Tierkries has high production values and a great story, but players who don't enjoy lengthy dungeon crawls would do well to sit this one out.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the game's thought-provoking themes, such as the notion that there could be an infinite number of worlds, many of which are only slightly different relative to the one we inhabit, and that all events are predetermined. You can also discuss the benefits and disadvantages of playing a game in which we have access to more than 100 playable characters. Do you enjoy managing the equipment of such a large cast, or would you prefer playing with a smaller, more intimate group of characters?
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