SRM features in OPSM UK

SRM OPSM UK FeatureThe Suikoden Revival Movement featured in the UK Official Playstation Magazine. If you click on the picture, it will take you to a full-sized version where you can read about our exploits and endeavours to bring Suikoden back to life again.

This article featured in the magazine in December 2012 when the SRM was progressing through it’s earlier stages.

At the time of this articles release, the SRM had around 4,500 followers on our Facebook page. This was already a massive undertaking, but the numbers kept growing and at the time of posting this news stub on our website, we have around 24,000 followers!

SRM would like to offer their deepest thanks to OPSM UK & Louise Blain for having this opportunity to be featured in such a great magazine!

For this featured article, Chris Holmes, the co-founder of SRM, was interviewed, though most of the interview never made it to the article. So below, the webmasters at SRM have provided you with the Questions and Answers that were conducted during this interview.


 

So for someone who doesn’t know your cause, what is your mission statement?

Our mission statement is simple. We are dedicated to the revival of the Genso Suikoden games.
Our main aim here is to revive the Genso Suikoden series. We aim to prove that the Suikoden fan base is still large enough, and passionate enough, for Konami not to give up on. We have a seven goal adaptable check list that we would like to see achieved, or atleast worked towards.

These include the digital release of Suikoden I-V on PSN, worldwide. Hopefully, not just on PSN but, other mediums also. Such as XBL, Steam and Android. Suikoden I is currently available on PSN but only in Japan (through the Suikoden I+II PSP bundle) and in North America, with the other regions missing out. Suikoden II is not available on PSN outside of Japan which truly confuses me.
We would also like to see the official Suikoden manga/novels localized outside of Japan. We feel it is necessary for Konami to revive as much of the old games as possible before pushing for, our final goal, the long awaited Suikoden VI.

More than anything, we feel it is completely fair for us fans to be able to enter into a more honest, lasting and reciprocal relationship with Konami themselves. Having mature dialogue with Konami, regarding the achievements of these goals, could not only profit the fans – but Konami itself. At the very least, having such a relationship with Konami would provide us with answers and hinder the need for us to annoy them every month!

You are on Facebook and Twitter, how has the reaction from the gaming community been?

It has been awesome! Twitter has been really slow, as most fans seem to use Facebook. The numbers we have generated on Facebook, so far, have been reasonably modest due to general errors with Facebook itself. Also, Suikoden is already a peculiar and little known franchise and is also probably the least popular it has ever been at this present moment. Taking these points into consideration, we certainly feel we have had a really great start.

Gaining coverage from Jim Sterling at Destructoid and Jason Schreier at Kotaku.com was a really humbling experience and helped tremendously. The amount of coverage this granted us, through numerous other smaller sources within the gaming community, was really overwhelming.

Operation Rainfall have offered us their support too, as have other websites like MissionGeek and the Spanish website Gamesajare.

We continue to get messages and words of support from many fans across the globe.

Have you been surprised by the reaction?

Yes totally! There is so much love for the series! The more momentum we build, the better the reaction is. It certainly makes me feel that our goals are achievable.

What makes Suikoden unique?

I think the vast array of characters available is a major plus point compared to other, standard RPG’s. There are 108 recruitable characters in each game, the majority of them playable. This gives Suikoden a Pokémon, ”Gotta catch ’em all!”, type feeling to it. Albeit it’s within a more mature and intricate storyline and setting. I think this appeals to alot of gamers. Also, there are even more characters within the story outside of the recruitable 108. The fact that many characters appear in the sequelled games is a very nice touch also. It gives a feeling of continuity and helps develop and flesh out the story on an epic scale.

The story itself, of the Suikoden games, is what I feel makes the games truly unique. Suikoden’s storyline is far more politically driven and intricate than your standard J-RPG. The character development is, in my opinion, far more superior. In most JRPG’s, you have a small band of youthful heroes who are fighting against an evil king or some kind of dark lord. The stories tend to be very much ”Good” versus ”Evil”. Very black and white.
With Suikoden, these kind of clichés are ripped apart. There is no black and white. In Suikoden, almost every character has a past and a huge back story. Through the course of playing the games, you realize that alot of the ”bad guys” aren’t actually that bad at all, with reasonable reasons for their motives and their choice of actions. You also realize that not all of the ”good guys” fighting on your side are wholly good either. Everyone has a past, full of both positive and negative situations, decisions and outcomes. This makes the characters of Suikoden feel more human, which draws us in and makes it easier for us to relate to them.

Also, the story of Suikoden works on so many different levels. From the basic character development that I just spoke of, and their individual dramas, to the way these individual stories combine with the dramas of other individuals, or larger groups of people. Then, there is also the nationwide politics and conspiracies, always a major part of the stories themselves. The storyline then delves deeper still as it elaborates on the more spiritual aspects of the Suikoden world.

Another unique aspect of Suikoden, especially the first three games, was the clever attention to detail. Suikoden has never been a series for trying to push boundaries with graphics. Suikoden is a game that speaks to you on an intellectual and emotional level, not just what is pleasing to the eyes.

This is where Suikoden has bags and bags of charm. For example, in Suikoden II, characters would walk around your HQ. They would also appear in different places around the castle, from their ‘usual spot’ to having a drink at the bar. The more people you recruited, the more NPC’s (non playable characters) would come to your castle. The HQ would then expand and more rooms would be added. Characters with unique skill sets would show off their talents one you recruited them i.e. a smithy would open up or your chef would start rustling up food. Then there was collecting ingredients for your chief, the recipes and the farming and the various combinations of items that could be provided from doing so. We all know how amazing Suikoden II was for its time and how all these small details, many of which I have not even mentioned, all added to a much fuller and richer experience of gameplay and immersion.

All these things already make Suikoden a far more engaging and fulfilling experience compared to most other RPG’s. The problem is the game is so little known. If Konami had marketed and advertised the game properly, I am sure it would have had much greater success.

What attracts you to the series?

For me, I personally love the cultural feel to the Suikoden games. Each game has its own countries full of different cultures and different peoples. I love this multi-cultural feeling to the game. I also really love the ”Celtic” feel to the first two games. I think this is a lovely touch in an RPG. I always felt I loved the scenery and culture here in Scotland because I am a Suikoden fan. But perhaps I got into Suikoden because I am Scottish? I’m not sure.

The music of the games plays a big part here. The music of all the Suikoden games is truly outstanding. Needless to say, I completely love Miki Higashino’s more Celtic scores of the first two games. Ms Higashino is also a fan of Celtic/Folk music and it really shows in these soundtracks.

The thing that attracts me most to Suikoden is probably the points it tries to make and the lessons it teaches you throughout the storyline. We learn a lot about, friendship, betrayal, politics, sorrow, cultural acceptance, love and spirituality.

Have Konami been in touch?

With myself personally, they have in the past, yes. They once offered me an official Konami Suikoden Facebook fan page for the benefit of all fans. This is something I’m still trying to get from them. They seem to have forgotten.

Since the Suikoden Revival Movement has been set up, which was only fairly recently, we have not had any official conversations with them, no. That is, bar the standard customer service responses.

Konami Facebook US, however, have responded to our numerous pleas a couple of times. Konami Twitter UK are also looking into the possibility of bringing Suikoden II to PSN and, also, why it has not happened already.

You aren’t just lobbying for the games to be released in the EU but the merchandise and novels too. Why do you think the European market doesn’t get a chance to buy?

Yeah, fans outside of Japan always feel left out of such things.
I’m guessing, in particular to Europe, that there are just too many languages in one continent for the Japanese to truly consider translating manga and novels for over here. Its a financial risk. Especially considering anime and manga is not as popular here as they are in Japan.

However, I honestly do not see why such Japanese manga and novels, and all other merchandise, can not be made available to us Western fans. For example, there is still much Suikoden merchandise for sale on Konami Japans’ shop website; Konamistyle. However, in order to buy directly from it, us Westerners are forced to use a middle man service, which charge pretty heavy insurance and handling fee’s. There are other online Konamistyle stores, for other regions of the world, but they don’t have any where near as much available merchandise as they do on Konamistyle Japan.

There are many collectors out there who would love to buy their favourite game merchandise directly from Japan. Within the whole gaming community actually, not just with Suikoden. Sure, we can get such merchandise a little cheaper through things like Ebay and Amazon. Or even Yahoo Japan while still using a middle man service. But a truly dedicated fan would like to buy directly from source.

This makes sense, at a fan level, to buy directly from the company who provided you your beloved game series. But it should also make sense at a business level, i.e. with Konami. Whats to stop Konami making the merchandise on Konamistyle Japan available to non Japanese speakers? Surely it would cost them very little, if any money at all, to set up their website this way. They would then also reap in more profits as fans from across the world buy their products, not just fans within Japan. They could even put a slight insurance fee on their sales to Westerners (but not as steep as a middle man service. That would defeat the purpose) in order to maximize profits.

You have set goals but what would your ideal scenario be?

First of all, no more unrelated spin offs. The last two Suikoden games were spin-offs situated on completely new worlds and completely unrelated to the main Suikoden world and storyline. We understand that Konami had seemingly ”lost their RPG know how” and are experimenting with these new games. However, the Suikoden timeline and geography is so huge anyway that it is unlikely to ever be fully explored. Even with a host of new main installments. Why set a spin off on a completely new world when you can set it within a country, and its people, that has not been explored yet?

This is why we feel Konami must revive the older games of the series instead of trying to pull the franchise into a whole new direction.

The ideal scenario would be to get Suikoden I-V, and Suikoden Tactics, on PSN as soon as possible. In fact, distribute all these games through as many digital download mediums as possible. I’m sure both Konami and the fans would prefer that us Europeans could finally purchase Suikoden III legally, also, as it was not released over here. If we could also find a way to get the official manga and novels translated and localized into English. We realize this is a big ask, as the original novels are over 10 years old and even less popular now that they were then. The more recent manga and novels were not even fully completed in Japanese. However we feel it is still worth inquiring about. Also, we are talking ideal scenario here.
If all the games could become available through legal, digital distribution at the same time that the manga and novels are being released, they could advertise and cross-promote eachother for further effect.

Konami can then look at developing a new game. I think they should try really hard to get at least some of the old team back together. Attempt to bring in Sakiyama Takahiro, Noritada Matsukawa, Fumi Ishikawa and Junko Kawano, to work on a new game. Miki Higashino is working freelance now and it would be really great if she could team up with Norikazu Miura, they are both excellent composers. Also, it could do no harm at all to attempt to lure back Yoshitaka Murayama, the series’ original creator. Mr Murayama is also working freelance. There were some convincing rumors that he was offered a position, back at Konami, but he declined. None of this was actually proven, however. It certainly would be great if Murayama could come back, even if not as a full time director, but at least as some sort of creative director or story consultant.

If cost is an issue, then why not look at making a new Suikoden spin off in the graphical and interface style of Suikoden II? Surely the cost of such a game would not be too much these days? In fact, why not make that game a digital download only to further reduce costs? I believe Konami could make more than one Suikoden spin off (as long as its related to the main world and storyline!), in this cost-effective manner, in order to keep the series afloat before making a full, main Suikoden VI.

Perhaps most importantly, Konami should keep regular, honest and productive contact with us fans. We can work together to bring Suikoden the success it truly deserves, thus profiting both the fans and Konami alike. For example, after the release of a new Suikoden game, we could be asked what things we liked, what things we didn’t like, what we perhaps thought needs improving and what we would like to see in future installments.

If Konami were to actually listen to us fans and follow any of these steps, then we would have their back every step of the way. We would try our utmost to advertise and promote any favourable Suikoden release, and Suikoden as a whole.

Oh! And open up Konamistyle Japan to us Westerners! Please Konami! Let us give you our money!

What is the next step for the revival movement?

The campaign has been going for a while but the unified Suikoden Revival Movement that you see now is only fairly recent. We aim to promote and recruit as much as possible. Soon, we would like incorporate a Phone-In campaign to add to our E-Mail, letter, Facebook and Twitter campaigns and, also, a ”business card” campaign where participants can print off a specially designed post card and get as many people as possible to sign it before sending it off to Konami.

We are still getting to grips with the ins and outs of campaigning itself. After we feel a bit more settled, the most logical and productive step would be to take this campaign to Japan and the fans there as much as possible. Japan is really where we want to reach.

I plan to do a bit travelling over there myself next year so, hopefully, I can enter discussions with some people at Konami when I visit.

Please visit the Official PlayStation Magazine UK

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