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  -Suiko4 Main
  -Part 1 :: [02.17.05]
  -Part 2 :: [10.19.05]
  -Part 3 :: [02.17.06]
  -Part 4 :: [05.20.12]
  -Part 5 :: [06.04.13]
  -Part 6 :: [09.27.14]
  -Part 7 :: [09.27.14]

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"Incidentally, the image of a vacuum cleaner has given me a disturbing insight into how BoF fanboys 'relieve tension'. Ew ew ew. Excuse me while I wait for the deluge of email flames using the basic structure of 'OMG U S4Y V4CUUUM CL34N3R USE 4 M45TERBATUN!!!111!!one!!!1 UR SICK AND GAY ADN NEEDS 2 GET 4 BLOWJ0B!!!1111' Hey, I haven't been graced with one of these suckers yet, but give it time."
     -Ben, Breath of Fire IV Part 3

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Suikoden IV : Part 1
By Sam
Posted 02.17.05
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
The day has finally come! After...well, fine, maybe a few weeks of waiting, it's time to begin snarking the fourth installment in the Suikoden series. What can I say--I just couldn't wait. As I'm sure most of you know, this game is a prequel set 150 years before the first and by far the gayest game in the series. Between the return to Kawano Junko's fruity-man-happy artwork and the fabulous pirate theme, I'm sure the whole affair will be more festive than a Tingle pride parade. We can only hope.

Once I've chosen Normal Display Mode over Progressive Mode--an option I have to select every goddamn time I turn the game on, as if to mock me for not owning an HDTV--our opening FMV begins. In perfect blue ocean water, dolphins swim and play and make merry with schools of fish to a jazzy island beat, making me think I've put into the PS2 a promotional DVD for the Bermuda Tourism Bureau instead of the game disc. Not that I'm complaining--anything to help me forget how horribly frigid it is outside right now. Ugh. Winter.

Back to the dolphins. They swim deeper and deeper into the inky darkness, leading into a shot of a man and a woman, standing back-to-back on the deck of a ship, surrounded by dudes with short swords. In short order the two of them clean house on those bitches, so I'm guessing they're not just average folks. Plus, they're both hot, so they've gotta figure into the big picture. By the way, there are two layers of animation going on here, so we can still see the happy dolphins frolicking in the sea while the Mystery Two wail on generics. Is this to help us remember that this game has an island/ocean setting? I don't really think that's necessary, what with all the big boats.

Elsewhere (but still in the pseudo-company of the dolphins), two ships are firing magic cannonballs at each other. Feel free to engage in immature snickering over "magic balls." A group from one ship boards the other, while a scruffy guy in plate armor commands some other guys in plate armor to slash up yet more guys in plate armor. I'm only bringing this up because it seems phenomenally stupid to be wearing heavy metal chestplates in the middle of the fucking ocean. More on this shortly.

Scene change yet again. And for a third time, we're on a boat. A hot lady in a white robe is standing on the deck of her ship at sunset, looking on at several oncoming vessels. In true Mary Sue fashion she clasps her hands together, then raises one hand to the sky, and a True Rune alights from her palm. A funky swirl symbol appears, and, well, I'm sure you can guess what happened to those enemy ships. Unless the chick happened to possess the True Rune of Peace and Bunnies and Rainbows.

We finally escape the ever-present dolphins when two shiny short swords appear on the screen. It looks like we have another hero sportin' double penis action. All riiiiight. In the reflection of the swords we see two pretty boys having words with each other. Sadly, they don't get naked. But the whole thing is only a brief respite from the dolphins, who take over the screen again, splashing and jumping under a full moon near an island. On the island's dock a man is looking very distraught. We don't yet know why, but judging from his open pink vest over a bare chest, crotch-hugging cutoff jean shorts and strappy sandals, I'm guessing it's laundry day and there was some kind of horrible tragedy involving his clotheslines. And right when the guy is mourning his wardrobe, a dolphin and a goddamn mermaid backflip out of the water right in front of him. He must be pretty baked mellow to not fall of the dock in sudden fright, because that's totally what would have happened to me.

What's long and hard and full of--shit, this joke doesn't work in writing.

Cut away from the scary mermaid. On a foggy hill somewhere, a vaguely familiar young man with a quiver of arrows on his back sees a very penis-like ship approaching. It really does look like a big purple schlong propelling itself through the water. The young man walks slowly down the hill, mysteriously compelled to ride that baby into the sunset. Hey, I wonder if that's going to be my ship. I would call it the Purple Monster of the Deep.

Another quick cut to a stone courtyard, where a bunch of late teens are standing around chatting, all of them in beige culottes, blue-gray leggings, matching long-sleeved shirts and, yes, metal chest protectors. If these guys are sailors too I'm going to scream. One soldier with wavy white hair waves goodbye to another with a red headband tying back his bowl-cut mop. Once Wavy Hair is gone, two more similarly-clad dudes saunter over and rough-house suggestively with their friend. One of them has one of those awful white trash mid-'90s jobs where they shave the bottom half of their head but leave the rest of the hair long and tie it back in a ponytail. The other guy has major bedhead. So far this particular group of characters contains exactly one person with non-horrible hair. Where the hell is Paul Mitchell when you need him? A few feet away, two more soldiers look on at their bad hair friends and giggle. They look like girls, but in this series there are so many men who look like women that I'm not going to call it now. And they could be lesbians, which would just completely screw me up. A wider-angle shot shows Wavy Hair giving orders to some random soldier, so now we know he's more important than his friends. Hence the stylish 'do.

Back out on the ocean, two ships are sailing along in the sunshine. Gay Headband, on one ship, takes notice of the other ship and runs to tell somebody while Wavy Hair waves his arm authoritatively. And for fuck's sake, they are all still wearing chestplates. Are these people retarded or something? Or is the Suikoden universe this magical place where solid iron floats on water? On the second boat, Scruffy McGee from earlier stares out to sea at the other ship, alongside a blonde lady with big knockers wrapped in what looks like purple latex. I'd make fun of that, but she's the only person I've seen in this group who's dressed appropriately. That's new.

From underwater, we can see the ships plow on through the sea, and damned if they're not accompanied by two dolphins and a mermaid. Go away. Then there's a fast shot of a freaky humanoid cat with a gigantic head, followed by exciting footage of the Bad Hair Knights practicing swordsmanship. Round it all off with a close-up of Gay Headband and the True Rune of Peace and Bunnies and Rainbows, and we've got ourselves a completed montage. I'm just left hoping there are no dolphin Stars of Destiny.

Flitty red headbands = totally heterosexual.

After selecting New Game, obviously I get to name my hero, who, surprise surprise, is Gay Headband. While I hem and haw over a suitable name, Gay Headband stands in the upper left-hand corner, doing stretches and toe-touches. He's also abandoned his ugly and stupid military outfit for a pair of black hot pants with red trim. It's as if the game designers just wanted to drop all pretense and shout "HE'S GAY!!!" at me before the game even begins. Come on, guys, I figured it out from the headband. Give me a little credit. Anyway, as is my sad and ironic little tradition, the hero must be named after a sexy bass crooner, and I'm left with the greatest of them for a namesake, the late great Marvin Gaye. For one thing, "Gaye." Hee. And if this kid's giant doe eyes don't just beg for a name with soooooul, I don't know whose would. In the end I name him Marvy--see Jeanne's reasoning for "Squally."

Once the name is settled, the game options screen automatically comes up. All the default settings for sound and whatnot are fine, but I notice an interesting option at the bottom: "Hero's Voice." Voice A is somewhat husky and masculine, maybe in that I'm-gay-but-fanfic-writers-always-put-me-on-top way. But Voice B sounds like a 14-year-old girl returning a volley in a tennis match. Perfect.

The game itself opens up out on the sea. I'm getting sick of water already. Marvy is back in his dumbfuck chest armor and culottes, lounging around on the deck of a ship, when sinister music alerts him and his companions to some shit stirring on the horizon. Some dork in a pointy metal cap--more brilliant ocean-wear, I see--looks through a telescope in alarm and tells his friend to "Get the Captain." After a moment Marvy sees what the commotion's about: three ships approaching on the port side. He's joined on deck by Wavy Hair, whom I now see is named Snowe. White hair! "Snowe"! Get it?! "They're here!" Snowe einsteins. He assures Marvy that there's nothing at all to worry his pretty little head over, because Snowe is gonna save the day and stuff. He asks in his Big Boy Voice if everyone is ready for combat. "Baby, I'd follow you anywhere. Even though you sound a wee bit like James Arnold Taylor," our silent hero doesn't reply.

'I-It's my f-first time...'

This battle is referred to as "First Engagement," and is basically my requisite tutorial for naval battle. Snowe walks his young lover through the basics of setting up ships. First, you must assign a captain. "Oh, yeah, I'm the captain this time," Snowe says, hoping Marvy will put two and two together and realize how big Snowe's penis must be. Like he doesn't already know. After "choosing" the captain, Marvy is asked to pick someone to man the Rune cannon. Man the cannon. Hehe. This is where the rock-paper-scissors aspect comes in, since fire > wind > earth > lightning > water > fire. I will tell you that for all my usual posturing about being insulted by the hammering into my head of game mechanics, I somehow never memorized this and had to constantly look it up in the strat guide on my first playthrough. I'm hoping my full disclosure on this matter will not subject me to a dozen emails explaining to me what a tiny, tiny brain I have.

Snowe adds that the ship we're going up against has lightning and water Rune cannons equipped. "Marvy," he coos, "at times like this, it would be good to select someone who can use a Lightning Rune." He insists that Marvy will get the "trick" to it eventually. As opposed to, uh, now. Marvy selects Keneth--White Trash Ponytail Guy from the FMV--to man the cannon with his Lightning Rune. Whew. That was hard.

The next item is to pick a group of people for hand-to-hand combat in the event the ship is boarded or we board another ship. "They'll be fighting directly with the enemy ship's crew, so you'll want strong fighters," Snowe says. "People proud of their strength should be assigned here... You might fit in here, too." Marvy raises his eyebrow at this back-handed compliment, and is about to be all, "So what, I'm a brainless lunk with a sword?!" but realizes his man's in charge so he might have to be blunt like that to make himself look large and in charge. There are only four people left to choose from, so all of them wind up in the combat party. Each one of them also has a certain number of underlings, which, added to the underlings of Keneth and Snowe, makes up the total hit points of the ship. I simply refuse to believe the guy with bedhead has eight people willing to follow him into battle.

And now we're ready to roll! A convenient grid map has been laid out over the water, and our ship is directly across from one enemy ship. To Snowe's surprise, the other ship moves first. "Do they have more mobility than me?" he cries, his "surprised" blowjob face in full display. But he quickly recovers his smug coutenance when he realizes that the other ship will now be in range for a hit from Keneth's long, hard Rune cannon. After Snowe walks Marvy through moving on the grid, Apple-style, the ship fires a blast of energy right at the enemy. Whoo! Go team!

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