Since the early 1980s, Japanese video gamedevelopers and publishers have provided us with many of gaming’s most beloved role-playingseries. While not the first in the genre, Enix’s DragonQuest became an overnight phenomenon and really set the stage for popular role-playing gamesin Japan. Squaresoft had an unexpected hit with FinalFantasy, which despite its name, continues strong to this very day with sequel aftersequel. And Atlus’s Persona tore up the JRPG rulebook with its contemporary setting and dark fantasy themes. But when I think of the Japanese role-playingfranchise that has had the biggest impact on me over the years, it’s one that’s a littleless conventional, a little less cinematic, and a little less…weeby…and that wouldbe Konami’s flagship RPG series Gensou Suikoden, simply referred to as “Suikoden” outsideof Japan. The series’ wonderfully unique blend of easternand western aesthetics, fantastic storytelling, and unforgettable soundtrack all left an impressionin me that most other games I’ve played haven’t even come close to making. In particular, the first and second Suikodengames really played a big part in my life growing up. So much so that on December 31st, in the year2000, I set up a Suikoden II endgame file to play as soon as midnight rolled aroundjust so I could lay claim to the title of “First Person to Beat Suikoden II in theNew Millenium.” Yes, this story is true, and I’ve just alwaysbeen that cool. As a huge fan of the Suikoden series, I wasmore than a little disappointed in the road the franchise would take from the second game. It would steadily continue on for severalyears, seeing sequels and spin-offs that were met with mixed reception from fans and critics,until the fifth game dropped in 2006, which was almost universally met with praise bySuikoden veterans and newcomers alike, and was hailed as a return to what made the seriesgreat in the first place. Sadly, as of summer 2017, also known as theSummer Of Suikoden, it seems like the final chapter in the main Suikoden storyline hascome to a close, since for over a decade there hasn’t been a follow-up title, and SuikodenVI probably won’t be a reality for quite some time, if ever. Suikoden V ended up being the final titlein the series’ main cannon, but it wouldn’t be the final game to bear the Suikoden name,as Konami would put out two spin-off Suikodens developed for handhelds a few years later. The first was Suikoden Tierkreis for the DS,which saw a Japanese release in late 2008 and international releases in 2009, and thenthere was the very last Suikoden game up until now, which remained Japan-only—Gensou Suikoden:Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki for the Sony PlayStation Portable. This PSP entry in the Suikoden series waspublished on February 9th, 2012, and is much like previous spin-off Tierkreisin that it’s set in its own world separate from the one that Suikoden I through V tookplace in. Gensou Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen noToki can be translated to Gensou Suikoden: The Woven Web of a Century, and at first glanceit may seem very similar to one of the proper Suikoden titles. While it shares many of the same story themesand visual and audio cues of the games that came before it, the many, many scenes of dialoguemake it feel like a hybrid of a traditional role-playing game and a visual novel. Starting up a new game is much like the otherSuikoden games, where the player is greeted with the classic main theme of the seriesand the character naming screen. No official name was given to the protagonist,so I just named him “Hapa,” and I’ll refer to him as such from here on out. The Woven Web of a Century begins with ananimated cutscene, where we are introduced to Hapa as a five year old boy having a conversationwith his mother, Signey. She tells him the story of his ancestor, TorwadAlbreck, a legendary swordsman who led a small band of heroes to vanquish a horde of terrifyingmonsters nearly 100 years previously. In their world, it is said that every 100years, horrible creatures suddenly appear and wreak havoc on anything and anyone insight. These monsters don’t go by any particularname in the current era, but were known as the Terras Falma in a forgotten age. The turn of the century is little more thana decade away, and Signey has been preparing
The turn of the century is little more thana decade away, and Signey has been preparing for the arrival of the Terras Falma for nearlyher entire life. It’s at this point that Hapa vows to learnthe ways of the sword like his mother and aid her in the battle that is inevitably tocome. Fast forward several years into the present,and the boy is all grown up. He and two childhood friends, the tomboyishMyura and her wise-cracking younger brother Gino, are gathering materials and huntingwild animals at the old abandoned ruins of a lakeside fortress near their hometown, Telbe. The aforementioned monsters have yet to maketheir appearance, and hunting provides a way for them to practice their combat abilities. The battle system in Woven Web of a Centurymarks a bit of a departure from the standard Suikoden formula, but is not unlike most otherrole-playing games. For starters, there are no more random encounters,and enemies are engaged only when physical contact is made, allowing the player to pickand choose most battles. Enemies in the field aren’t very aggressive,so running past them to avoid fights is almost always an option. You may choose up to six party members ata time and arrange them in a 3 by 3 grid, with the front spots meant for melee fightersand the back row for long distance attackers and support characters. When a fight begins, characters have accessto the standard options like attack, defend, run away, and special skills, but can alsochange equipment midway, and some characters have special defense and counterattack options,depending on their class. Each character that can be used in battlesfalls into one of nine different classes. There are swordsmen, who obviously specializein sword attacks. Mages perform spells by using a variety ofelemental stones. Medics are the healers of the team and usevarious potions to increase HP and other stats. Spearmen are soldiers proficient in the useof, well, spears. Martial artists are tonfa-wielding melee attackers. Sorcerers, who are magic users just like mages,utilize magic stones to focus on inflicting status ailments rather than elemental damage. Ninjas have high agility and the ability touse ninjutsu to overtake their foes. Archers use bows and a range of arrows tostrike from a distance, and musicians perform songs mostly to raise the stats of allies. Rather than choosing each party member’s actionsat the start of a turn and watching everything play out in real time like in most Suikodentitles, turns are determined by individual character stats. The actions that can be performed are dependenton willpower, which is displayed above the character’s HP bar. As mentioned earlier, mages and sorcererscast spells by using magic stones, but these spells also consume willpower, with strongermagic requiring the use of more willpower and stones. Some actions, such as defending, won’t consumeany willpower, and is a good option for charging up so one may use more powerful attacks, as20 willpower points are gained every turn. Unlike other Suikoden games and most RPGsin general, normal items cannot be used during battle, and typically the only way to healis by having a medic in the party. After their business at the fortress ruinsis finished, Hapa makes an observation regarding the large tree there, remarking that for aslong as he can remember, he’s never seen it bloom any flowers, which makes it rare anddifferent from any other ordinary tree. As the trio returns to Telbe, they run intoHagall, the village chief, and Iria, another childhood friend of the hero’s, who are travelingto the city of Shuraat. They plan to meet with Iria’s adopted father,Aaron, mayor of Shuraat, and prominent voice among several settlements opposed to the everincreasing encroachment on their territories by the Holy Empire of Aionia, the dominantpower in the region. Much of the area falls under the jurisdictionof Aionia, and its long history of strong-arming, brutal methods of conquer and submission havegiven rise to resentment among many, particularly those who live in towns that have maintainedtheir independence from the empire, such as Telbe and Shuraat. As the turn of the century draws nearer, Aioniahas been putting more pressure on those outside of its domain for support and allegiance toquell the centennial menace.
of its domain for support and allegiance toquell the centennial menace. Hapa himself has a personal reason to despisethe empire, as his mother was tragically killed three years previously in a skirmish withAionian military forces. From here, you are allowed to rest up a bitand explore the village of Telbe…well, perhaps the use of the word “explore” is a bitof a stretch. You see, in other Suikoden games, you hadthe option to run around towns and cities, talk to people, go shopping, discover treasure,and really get a feeling of exploration while doing so. In Gensou Suikoden: The Woven Web of a Century,however, all towns are basically just point-and-click affairs, severely limiting that feeling ofexploration. Several icons on screen mark areas of interest,allowing you to buy weapons, armor, and items from shops or engage in conversation withthe locals. This functions just fine for taking care ofbusiness, but most disappointing about the town system in this game is that you won’tfind any new recruitable characters hanging around for you to discover, unless it’s partof the story, making revisiting residential areas sort of pointless. There are no inns in towns, either, as savingcan be done at any time or place outside of story cutscenes. As Hagall and his envoy are away meeting withAaron to discuss what approach they should take in dealing with the Holy Empire of Aionia,a small regiment of soldiers from the Aionian Fourth Legion arrive just outside of Telbe,and Hapa, Myura, and Gino are forced to confront them in the absence of the chief. Tensions are at a peak until the leader ofthe Fourth Legion, a scruffy but fair and compassionate man named Ducas, explains thatthe Aionians have come only to get an answer from the Telbe chief in person regarding supportin the upcoming fight with the Terras Falma, as they never received a reply to their writtenrequest. After a brief conversation, Hapa and friendsinsist Ducas and his troops have no business being in these lands and ask them to leaveimmediately, to which the soldiers comply, and a potential scuffle is avoided…but theheroes aren’t in the clear yet, because on their way back to the village, strange andhostile creatures suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere…the time has finally comefor the monsters that plague the land every 100 years, the Terras Falma, to rear theirheads once again. Talk about bad timing. Because Gino isn’t a figher like Hapa andMyura, he reluctantly runs off to warn the villagers about the arrival of the new threat,while his companions attempt to hold off the beasts. Unfortunately, their combined efforts arenot enough to strike down the Terras Falma, who are powerful and can apparently multiplyat will, and they’re forced to flee to the old lakeside fortress. As they take refuge in the ruins, they fearfor the worst, but then realize the monsters did not pursue them, and in fact it seemsthey are repelled from doing so, as if there was some kind of barrier protecting them. It’s at this moment that Hapa notices thatthe odd tree there that he commented on earlier is now abloom with brilliant, beautiful flowers. He has a feeling that this strange phenomenonis responsible for keeping the Terras Falma at bay, and just as soon as he comes to thatconclusion, the voice of an unseen presence confirms his belief. That voice belongs to a mysterious young manhidden behind the large tree named Zephon, who speaks with a vague, almost puzzling mannerof speech, and offers to help the two fleeing warriors. He passes along a precious gem to the protagonistand only asks for him to touch the tree, and when questioned as to what will happen, hesimply says they would never believe him and the only way to find out is to do as he says. Worried about Gino and the villagers and realizinghe has nothing to lose by doing so, Hapa obliges. A bright flash of light envelops the threeof them, and when it fades, they notice something has changed…it looks like the old fortressruins have been completely rebuilt! Zephon explains that the strange tree withthe shining blooms is a called a tree of time, and the fortress has not been rebuilt, butrather, the three of them have traveled back in time to when the tree was first planted…100years in the past, to be precise.
pc games 2012 in time to when the tree was first planted…100years in the past, to be precise.
in time to when the tree was first planted…100years in the past, to be precise. The protagonist and Myura find that hard tobelieve, but are taken by surprise that the Terras Falma that were previously chasingafter them have somehow vanished. Then, any doubts to Zephon’s claims are laidto rest, as they run into the legendary hero from 100 years ago and ancestor of the protagonist,Torwad Albreck. Not only does he look like he could be Hapa’slong lost brother, but he is also in possession of the same ceremonial short sword that Hapainherited from the late Signey, confirming that they have indeed traveled back in time. At this point in Torwad’s time, he and hisallies have already slayed the Terras Falma, and asks to travel back to the present withHapa so he may help him in his fight, as well as see what the future is like. They rush back to the tree of time to travelto the present, but when they return, Torwad is nowhere to be seen. Zephon, who always knows much more than heever lets on, informs the befuddled Telbe youth that the tree of time cannot bring peopleand items from the past into the future. The three of them return to break the newsto Torwad, and while they ponder what can be done to improve the situation in the present,Hapa gets an idea, which is for the legendary hero to teach him his sword style, as he wasunable to complete his training due to the untimely death of his mother. Myura reasons that doing that would take months,but Torwad thinks otherwise and agrees to instruct his descendant. In Gensou Suikoden: The Woven Web of a Century,special skills can be taught to other characters in battle through a partnering system. In addition to arranging characters on a 3by 3 grid, you can group them under a leader, which will cause every member of the groupto take their turn during a fight at the same time. Doing this will add damage bonuses to attacks,give the option to use standard attacks together all at once, as well as open up the possibilityof performing unite attacks, which in this game are just stat boosting combinations. By pairing two characters of the same class,however, the leader character can transfer his special attacks to another by having thatcharacter mimic his actions. After a few rounds of practicing, the protagonistand Torward are surrounded by a flash of light, and a powerful new special attack is mastered. The skill transfer system is a major componentin Woven Web of a Century’s game system, and there are dozens and dozens of skills thathave been lost in time, essentially, for which heroes from the current time period can travelback in time to recover and learn from the masters of old. Transferring the skills of people from differenteras won’t take much time at all, but that isn’t the case when it comes to two alliesfrom the present. Skill transfer doesn’t apply only to fighterseither, and a majority of the techniques that can be learned are actually meant for useby non-playable support characters, such as chefs and craftsmen. Sometimes you’ll bring an NPC to the pastin order to learn a skill from someone in person, but other times finding an item leftby an important figure of the past, such as a book or a weapon, will trigger the transferof a skill. Every time a new skill is acquired, thereis a flash of light and the knowledge is passed on instantaneously and more often than notwithout any actual instruction taking place. It is said that the will to teach is all thatis necessary for the skill to be learned, for reasons that will become much clearerlater down the road. With the newly inherited skills of his ancestor,Hapa and his time traveling companions thank and bid farewell to Torwad, and make plansto visit him again once the chaos in their own time period has settled. Upon their return to the present, the heroesresume their battle with the monsters, who are no match for the legendary sword techniqueof Torwad. The unexpected victory gives Hapa and Myuraa much needed sigh of relief and lifts their spirits…feelings which won’t last very long. They rush back to Telbe to check on Gino andthe villagers, only to stumble upon a shocking, horrible scene—despite their best efforts,they did not act quickly enough and the entire village has already been decimated by theferocious Terras Falma.
village has already been decimated by theferocious Terras Falma. Gino survived just long enough to speak withhis friend and sister one last time, and dies peacefully before their eyes. Zephon shows up and angers the grieving Hapaand Myura with his indifference to the tragedy that has occurred. When called out on his insensitivity, he remindsthe two that they have the ability to travel back in time and can prevent the village’sdestruction from happening altogether. Although they can only travel back no soonerthan 100 years, there is a way to save Telbe, which is how Hapa and Myura were able to fleefrom the Terras Falma in the first place. They return to the tree of time, from whichZephon retrieves a seedling. He tells Hapa that each tree of time producesexactly one seedling, and by planting one right outside of Telbe, the power of the treewill keep everyone safe. They return to the past, where they meet Torwadonce again, but in their desperation, Hapa and Myura rush past him to get to the villageto plant the seed as soon as possible. However, before they reach the village, theyare abruptly whisked away to the present! The two make their way back to where theyhad left Torwad and Zephon, and learn that the time traveling powers of the tree onlyaffect a small radius surrounding it, so it is not possible for them to plant the seedlingthemselves. Torwad offers to help yet again, and Hapapasses along the seedling for him to plant outside of Telbe. When they return to the present once more,they discover a tree of time in full bloom outside their village, realizing that theirplan seems to have worked. They know for certain that they successfullyaltered history when Gino meets up with them moments later, suddenly back from the dead. Overcome with joy, Myura embraces her brother,clueless as to why the older sister who is so often firm and angry with him is now holdingonto him for dear life. Altering history through time travel is anothermajor component to Woven Web of a Century’s gameplay, used not only to gain characterskills as talked about earlier, but also to progress through the story. Whenever there’s some obstacle preventingthe player from getting from point A to point B, the solution is almost always found bytraveling through time, passing on a tree of time seedling to an ally to plant in adifferent area of the world, and accomplishing a goal in that newly opened up portion ofthe past to change the present. It can be as simple as doing a little pestcontrol in a field to prevent overgrazing so people in the future will have access tomedical ingredients to treat the wounds of the victims of war, to aiding a village ina battle with the Aionian military to prevent the wholesale slaughter of an entire tribeof people. At one point in the game, the heroes mustcross a vast body of water, but in the present, shipmaking has been declared illegal by theHoly Empire of Aionia and there are no ships left in the world, so the only way to getaround this is by convincing a carpenter in the past to secretly store and preserve oneof the last remaining ships in the land and hand down the burden of that work to his familymembers for generations. Initially, Hapa is concerned about the effectsof altering history and what he sees as erasing the past, and is a little reluctant in doingso, but Zephon assures him that there is nothing to worry about. He explains that the world everyone knowsis just one of a million others out there, and by changing the course of events in thepast, they are essentially creating a brand new world, while the other is left untouchedand continues on. Zephon uses the tree of time they stand beforeto make his point more clear, stating that if each branch represented one world, changinghistory as they just did only adds another branch to the existing one. With Telbe safe, Zephon bids his new friendsfarewell. He won’t say where he’s going, but it won’tbe too long before he’s back in the picture again, as one would expect. Hapa and Myura decide to travel to Shuraatand meet Hagall and Iria to tell them about the arrival of the Terras Falma, but beforethey even set out, the village chief and his entourage return. When everyone is brought up to speed on thesituation, Hagall asks Hapa, Myura, and Iria to travel to Shuraat to speak with Aaron aboutthe Terras Falma. When they arrive in the city, the trio isgreeted warmly by Aaron, a gentle man with a noble air to him, as well as his secretary,Rochelle. The two are quickly briefed on the recentevents at Telbe, and to the surprise of Hapa, Myura, and Iria, Aaron and Rochelle ask themto keep the news of the Terras Falma a secret, mainly due to fears of being subjected tothe growing influence of Aionia. But just as they argue over the best courseof action, the door busts open, and an unwelcome guest enters the room—the captain of theFourth Aionian Legion, Ducas. He explains his barging in by saying thathe heard rumors of warriors who had skirmished with Terras Falma, and that they were currentlyin Shuraat. Hapa tells the Aionian about his encounterwith the Terras Falma, contrary to Aaron’s wishes. Mostly against their will, Hapa and friendsare soon escorted across a large bridge into the Aionian motherland and straight to thehumongous, sprawling capitol of the empire, Taxis, for an audience with the emperor himself,Lenesferias XIII. The young Telbe natives are struck with aweat the sight of the regal—and quite feminine—monarch of Aionia, and are surprisingly met with goodwill by the him and his retainers. Leneferias listens to the account of his guests,and after praising their efforts, sends off his loyal subjects to prepare to battle theTerras Falma. That the emperor would take action so quicklysurprises Hapa and his companions, but Lenesferias reveals that the entire existence of the Aionianempire is to battle the Terras Falma every 100 years, as that was the reason for itsfounding three hundred years ago. Lenesferias asks the three for their cooperationin the upcoming battles with the Terras Falma, even if only by defending their own homelands,and concludes the meeting, asking Ducas to escort them back across the long bridge leadingto Shuraat. But before they leave, he has one more request,which is for Hapa to engage in a sparring match with his most valuable guard, Makia,as they both are trained in the same sword style. The two agree, and while the young and inexperiencedHapa is no match for the top swordsman of the empire, he is praised for his efforts. As Hapa, Myura, and Iria are about to depart,Ducas gets word of some very bad news—in the time they had their audience with Lenesferias,reports have come in that the Terras Falma have invaded Shuraat. Ducas tells his escortees to stay put as heand his soldiers head over to deal with the menace, promising to return once its safe. However, the three are worried about Aaronand the people of Shuraat and decide to follow Ducas and help out. When they arrive, they find the Aionian FourthLegion in dire straits, and join the battle. They finally meet Ducas, who is locked inbattle with an unlikely opponent—strangely-dressed humans who are summoning forth the TerrasFalma to attack the Aionian soldiers. After dispatching this new, mysterious enemy,they are hit with an even bigger shock. The person in charge of this operation isnone other than Aaron, who seems to have become a completely different person from the kind,mild-mannered man they met earlier. Twenty years ago, Aionian soldiers set hishometown ablaze to combat a horde of Terras Falma that had somehow appeared before theturn of the century. That act would end up claiming the lives ofhis friends, Iria’s family, and his own wife and child, and in the time since then, thehatred he had for Aionia continued to burn deep within his heart. He formed a secret military force called theVermillion Axe and plans to get his revenge by controlling the Terras Falma to once andfor all cut down the Aionian empire, who he sees as the true monster in this world. The Vermillion Axe has all but wiped out Ducas’sFourth Legion and is about to cross the bridge into the Aionian motherland, but Lenesferias’sgenerals intervene and destroy the path. His desire for vengeance unshaken by thissetback, Aaron decides to find another way in and travel around the continent to strikeat the heart of the empire, and as he makes his escape, tells Hapa and his companionsthat when they come to their senses about Aionia, he will welcome them into his rankswith open arms. The heroes, demoralized from the recent events,return to Shuraat, which has been left in shambles from the clash between the VermillionAxe and the Aionian army. From here on out, Hapa, Myura, and Iria, alongwith the sole remaining member of Aionia’s Fourth Legion, Ducas, resolve to chase afterthe Vermillion Axe as they make their way to Taxis, in order to persuade Aaron to endhis campaign of destruction, potentially by any means necessary. The world map in Woven Web of a Century ishandled much like towns, and you’ll just move a cursor to an area to travel to it. As you progress through the game, more partsof the map will open up to be explored, and icons mark story missions and where new treesof time have been planted. As they journey through different lands andsettlements, the heroes will meet and recruit many allies along the way. They’ll form bonds with a diverse group ofpeople who have different motivations to join their cause, also with differing views onAaron’s ambitions. Humans aren’t the only ones to lend theirsupport, either. Members from the cat and bird hybrid race,the Feathered Lives, and the hulking, reptilian warriors known as the Scalehorde will alsojoin in the fight. The mysterious Zephon will also touch basewith the heroes once again and tag along for the long run, though his true intentions mostlyremain unclear. As Hapa and his companions grow larger innumber, and their focus becomes more defined, they formally establish themselves as a battlecompany, headquartered at the old fortress by the lake near Telbe, which is no longerin ruins in the present, as a brief passing mention of its condition to Torwad in thepast led to its preservation for future generations. You’ll get to choose a name for the fortress,as well as your battle company, similar to other Suikoden games. Also like other entries in the series, thefortress starts off small, but will gradually fill up with more areas and things to do asrecruits move in. The music even gets more lively as it grows,too. What is different about the headquarters systemin this game is that it features a day and night cycle, and certain actions can onlybe performed at the right time of day. Magic stone, medicine, and arrow makers willcraft items for you, as long as you have the materials to make them, with each of thesecraftsmen able to work on two orders at a time per visit. Weapon and armor blacksmiths and ringmakersimprove equipment stats and add special attributes to items for a limited number of times. There’s a small shop to buy basic materialsand sell unneeded items, and a dungeon where you can commission one of three differentexpeditions per day, with the added option of paying extra to increase the odds of findingmore and better items. Any items ordered from craftsmen or foundin dungeons can be collected whenever you return to the fortress from the world map. Once an archer character named Ryuseri joinsup, she brings with her the ability to go on hunts, which are timed battle challengesyou can compete in once a day that award victory with items, progressively getting more difficultas you move up the ranks, and is actually a great way to level up. In order to exit the fortress, you’ll haveto enter the dining hall and eat a meal with your allies. There are four chefs and a full menu to choosefrom, provided you have the recipes and ingredients in hand to prepare the dish you want. Each meal gives a certain set of stat booststhat carry over to the next day, but more important than that, sitting down and sharinga meal allows characters to converse and bond with one another. Increasing bond will improve performance inbattle when characters are grouped together, and when certain characters increase theirfriendship enough, they can unlock a second subclass and use its special attacks. Other things to do at the fortress includelistening to most of the game’s music tracks in a sound test mode, rewatching any of thepreviously viewed animated cutscenes, checking out enemy stats and models in a bestiary,and viewing the stone tablet that displays the names of the 108 Stars of Destiny currentlyenlisted. 108 Stars of Destiny? Yes, Gensou Suikoden: The Woven Web of a Centurycontinues the long Suikoden series tradition of gathering 108 allies known as the Starsof Destiny, though there are a couple of noticeable changes to how the feature is implementedhere. First off, the meaning behind the Stars ofDestiny is kept mostly vague throughout the story, and it isn’t until near the very endof the game that the reason for gathering the Stars becomes more clear. And second, most Stars are considered recruitedwhen their skill is passed down, and that is the extent of their impact on the gameplayand story. While there are people in the past who canjoin your party for story events or to teach a skill, in the present, only eighteen characterscan be added into the active party, with the rest taking up residence at the fortress headquartersas craftsmen or chefs. It’s disappointing, as the gathering of theStars of Destiny in Woven Web of a Century basically serves only as a collection of side-quests,and the non-battle skills received from the Stars are often not necessary or useful. On the bright side, though, seeking out theStars will give you a better understanding of the game world’s lore, and finding themall before the final showdown unlocks an alternative, true ending. From beginning to end, Woven Web of a Centuryis filled with numerous twists and turns. Eventually, Hapa and crew will discover atree of time already exists in the age of Torwad, which allows them to travel back evenfurther in time to two hundred years in the past. There, they meet the person who planted thetree of time seedling—Astrid, the empress of Aionia and the legendary heroine of herage who led the charge to face and defeat the Terras Falma. Hapa and his companions have many questionsabout the monsters and things about their time period that don’t quite add up. She and her comrades are astonished by howlittle they actually know about the Terras Falma, their origins, and history in general,and offer to expose them to a terrible truth about their world. Hapa wishes to know this truth, and travelswith Astrid to the edge of a desert in the south, where she uses her magic to open upa portal. What Hapa sees through this rift in spaceis perhaps the greatest shock of all—hundreds, thousands of cannibalistic Terras Falma, occupyingmiles of scorched earth. Astrid reveals that 100 years before her time,the Terras Falma made their first appearance and ravaged the land and that most creaturesin the world perished in the onslaught. A group of wisemen established a magical barrierto keep out the monsters and protect the remaining survivors. So essentially, the last remnants of humanityis preserved in a small sandbox in the middle of a huge park, which is the world Hapa andeveryone else has known all their lives. No one is able to cross this barrier, andattempting to do so will give the illusion of the land repeating itself over and overagain, something the heroes experienced earlier in their travels. Additionally, about every one hundred years,this barrier weakens and must recharge, which is why the Terras Falma are able to crossinto the protected area, if only for a short period of time. And the final thing Astrid reveals is thatthe mechanism that keeps this barrier up is located in Taxis, and if the empire falls,so will the barrier, which makes it even more important to stop the Vermillion Axe thanever before. When the heroes finally catch up to Aaron,they tell him about what they learned from Astrid 200 years in the past about the world,the Terras Falma, and Aionia. While he doesn’t quite believe Hapa’s story,even if it is true, he figures he’d rather have his revenge and risk the extinction ofall life in the world than to stop short of his goal of destroying the empire. Not long after this exchange, Hapa and hisallies track down the Vermillion Axe at a secret Aionian facility, where the two sidessuffered many combat casualties. When they make their way to the top of thisstructure, they find Aaron, all alone and laughing uncontrollably, and discover a terriblesecret that this facility holds—the empire has been raising Terras Falma of their ownfor years, and the Terras Falma that appeared decades earlier and led to the destructionof Aaron and Iria’s hometown came from this very Aionian facility. Aaron also comes to the realization that theVermillion Axe was practically doomed from its conception, as an Aionian spy infiltratedtheir ranks many years ago—Aaron’s most trusted accomplice, Rochelle. She explains that for order to exist in theworld, people must unite against a common enemy. Twenty years ago, the Terras Falma escapedfrom this facility in an accident, and the resulting cover-up and destruction of Aaron’shometown gave birth to the potential appearance of a mightier, more threatening enemy to unitethe people against—the Vermillion Axe. With this revelation, Aaron resolves to letthe world know of Aionia’s secret. He implores the heroes to live on and carryout his goal of destroying Aionia, and lets loose the hundreds of Terras Falma storedin the facility, being devoured by the monsters as a result of his close proximity to someof the cells. As Hapa and his comrades make their escapefrom the building, they run into Rochelle once again, who plans on overloading the facility’spower supply to wipe out all the Terras Falma in order to prevent them from creating aneven bigger tragedy than the one from 20 years ago. Hapa offers to help, but is refused, and inan attempt to get him to leave, Rochelle divulges that it was she who killed his mother Signeythree years ago when she learned of this facility’s secrets and attempted to put a stop to Aionia’splans. Despite that, however, he still tries to help,but is blocked from doing so by a magic barrier, and he has no choice but to flee. Rochelle sacrifices herself to blow up thefacility, and a large scale crisis is averted. The recent events raised more questions thananswers, especially regarding why the Aionians would be raising Terras Falma in captivity. For some reason, Zephon has the same abilityas Astrid to peak past the magic barrier, so he and Hapa travel to the northern edgeof the land in the present to investigate the current state of the world outside theirtiny, protected box. What Hapa sees through the rift is perhapsmore of a shock than what he saw 200 years ago—magnificent scenes of lush, green naturespread out as far as the eye can see, without a hostile creature in sight. It turns out that the Terras Falma have goneextinct beyond the barrier, and have been extinct for over a hundred years. They later discover that from the time ofAstrid and onward, the Holy Empire of Aionia has been secretly raising the monsters forgenerations to release in the wild at the turn of the century, and forces within theempire have been traveling through time much like the heroes to alter history and arrangethe capture of the Terras Falma. But even acquiring all this knowledge aboutAionia doesn’t explain the reasons for keeping up the illusion of the threat of horriblemonsters and essentially holding the whole of humanity hostage in a giant, open air prison. The time comes to strike the imperial capitol,confront Lenesferias, take down the magical barrier, and break free of Aionian bondage. Hapa travels back to the past two more timesbefore the final showdown to talk to his ancestor, Torwad, and the Aionian empress Astrid, bothof whom he had been reporting to as he discovered the secrets of the Terras Falma and Lenesferias’plot. He lets them know about his plan to destroythe magic barrier, and as Hapa speaks to Astrid, she inquires as to whether or not he hadn’tconsidered just killing her to cut out the bloodline of Lenesferias and end the schemealtogether. He tells her that he could never do that,which she knew he would say, and states that doing so would be futile anyway, since herhusband Lenesferias IV and Lenesferias XIII of Hapa’s time are actually one and the same,as the emperor is gifted with immortality. The heroes from the past wish Hapa luck inhis final battle, lamenting that they cannot travel with him to help directly. But both Torwad and Astrid decide there issomething they can help him with… Before embarking for the Aionian palace, you’rewarned that there’s no coming back once you decide to go, a helpful reminder for thosewho still have Stars of Destiny to gather or need to level up. The heroes rally together at the old fortressby the lake, and begin their final assault. The palace is huge and littered with eliteAionian soldiers, and deeper within, powerful Terras Falma roam wild. A familiar face awaits in the throne roomprepared to lay down her life in defense of her lord—Makia, the emperor’s personal guardand protector. Hapa has grown stronger and more skilled inthe sword since their sparring match so long ago, and this time, emerges the victor. In her dying breath, Makia apologizes to Lenesferiasfor failing in her duty, and Hapa enters the secret room beyond the royal court. An enormous tree grows wildly from the centerof this room, and Zephon explains that this is the tree of time from which all other treeof time seedlings they have planted trace their roots, and has been in this spot for300 years. Hapa and Zephon use the tree to travel 300years into the past to the age when the Terras Falma nearly wiped out all life on the planet. When they arrive, they are soon approachedby a figure in the background, Lenesferias. He wrongly assumes the pair came from 100years into the future, as no one from beyond that era ever came to visit him. Hearing that they are actually from 300 yearsin the future, Lenesferias is delighted to know that humanity has survived past a century. He is apparently already acquainted with Zephon,at least the Zephon from his own time period, and recognizes Hapa as the leader of the Starsof Destiny, the Tenkai Star. Hapa informs Lenesferias that the people ofhis time know almost nothing about what took place 300 years in the past, and asks theemperor to tell him what occurred in this era, who gladly obliges. In this time period, there was a great warbetween a mighty kingdom and a force called the Stars of Destiny. The latter wielded a mystical power that overwhelmedthe former, prompting the kingdom to research that which granted the Stars their strength. They concluded that a True Tree of Time wasthe source of the Stars’ strength, and began trying to harvest the tree’s power to usefor themselves. It’s in these efforts that the kingdom madea grave mistake, as their attempts to use the power of the tree gave birth to hideouscreatures that multiply endlessly and consume anything and everything in sight—the TerrasFalma. Wishing to prevent the complete genocide ofthe remaining people in the world, Lenesferias and a small group of wisemen harnessed thepower of the True Tree of Time to put up a magical barrier so as to ward off the increasingnumber of Terras Falma. The True Tree to Time is located in anotherplace, but the tree in the Aionian capitol draws on its power in order to keep the barrierin place. Additionally, Lenesferias is connected tothe tree in that as long as he remains near it, he will never age, and has chosen to takeon this burden to make sure the barrier never falls, ensuring that the people will alwaysbe protected from the Terras Falma. Hapa is astounded at how the selfless, nobleLenesferias of this era could eventually transform into the controlling, oppressive person hebecomes in just over 100 years. The emperor would rather not know how thefuture turns out and is content to know life will go on at least another 300 years. With that, he bids his guests from the futurefarewell, and Hapa and Zephon return back to their time, soon to be accosted by thepresent day Lenesferias. Hapa demands an explanation for why the emperorwould obscure the true nature of the world from the people and prop up a fake boogeymanin the form of the extinct Terras Falma. Lenesferias claims that all he has done wasnecessary, as he feels that once mankind regains its freedom, another dreadful incident likethat which created the Terras Falma in the first place is bound to occur. Hapa agrees that while the mistakes of thepast are sure to be repeated, it’s not up to one person to determine what is the rightcourse for all humanity, and the people should be the ones in charge of that decision. But based on his own experience through thecenturies, Lenesferias strongly believes people cannot be trusted to hold fate in their ownhands. Unyielding in his position, the emperor issuddenly consumed by the tree of time, which collapses through the floor, uncovering adark underground chasm. What they discover is that the tree has mergeditself with the Terras Falma and now, Lenesferias. As the heroes prepare to strike and cut itdown, it awakens to its true form, a hideous, powerful abomination. It proves too strong for them to handle, butsuddenly it begins to weaken, as if some unseen force was lending a hand. Two hundred years in the past, Astrid gathersher loyal companions and investigates the Aionian tree of time. One hundred years in the past, Torwad doesthe same, and both groups of heroes unearth the secret underground crevasse and the TerrasFalma and tree of time hybrid beneath. The final battle of the game involves theheroes from all three ages working together to systematically destroy parts of this monstroustree, with those in the past dismantling certain parts of it so that the heroes in the presentmay succeed in defeating the tree completely. When the deed is finally done, the settingshifts to Telbe. Hapa, Myura, Gino and Iria are about to travelbeyond where the magic barrier once restricted their movements, and they say good-bye toHagall, who will remain in the village. They lead a small group of people to the newworld, and upon discovering a rich, beautiful landscape, the game ends. However, if you defeat the final boss aftergathering all 108 Stars of Destiny, you’ll get the true ending. All three heroes of the different ages, Hapa,Astrid, and Torwad find themselves transported to a white void, allowing for what was thoughtto be an impossible meeting between them. As expected in strange times like this, Zephonshows up, and thanks the heroes for their hard work, especially the Tenkai Star forfinding all of the Stars. The gathering of the 108 heroes brought thepower of the True Tree of Time to its maximum, allowing for this meeting to take place, andalso the alteration of history in each of their worlds, giving them the freedom to pursuetheir own destinies, without the restriction of the magic barrier or the threat of theTerras Falma. Before the heroes have the chance to ask formore clarification, Zephon disappears into the void, and they are transported back totheir own times and worlds. Each decides to embark on adventures in theunexplored lands outside the former sandbox they were once trapped in, and an alternateanimated cutscene plays for the ending of the heroes of the present. Overall, it took me about 35 hours to completethe game without the 108 Stars of Destiny, and 42 hours to achieve the true ending. It probably would have taken much longer ifI didn’t have the complete guide, which was very helpful in picking up the last remainingcharacters I missed on my first run through. As an end game bonus, you have the abilityto save a clear file to use for a new game plus playthrough, if desired. And in keeping with the tradition of the Suikodenseries, before the end credits, the player is treated to the individual endings of the108 Stars of Destiny, many of which change drastically depending on whether or not youfound all of the Stars. You even get information on the people whowere recruited simply by finding their items, who sadly lack any sort of character portrait. There are a lot of problems with this supposed“Suikoden” game. First off, in stark contrast to the main games,finding the 108 Stars of Destiny is a chore and a bore, and aside from getting the alternateending, there’s not really much point in spending the extra time to find them. Most of the special attacks they teach foruse in battle are great, but a majority of the skills for NPC craftsmen are kind of useless. Speaking of useless, the weapon and armorsmiths and ringmaker services can be ignored completely, as the stat boosts they providearen’t all that necessary, especially because most enemies are pushovers, even bosses, whichare often times weaker than the standard foes leading up to them. There is an extreme lack of exploration, mainlybecause of the way the world map and towns are handled, but also because most field areasand dungeons feel cramped and are sectioned off into rather small partitions. Aside from the hunting challenges and a fewsecret boss fights, there’s not really much to do outside of the main game. Dramatic scenes are hampered a bit by thevisual novel setup, as large character portraits cover most of the screen, obfuscating theactual character models. And unfortunately, many of the charactersyou meet have only a few lines of dialogue in the entire game, even those that join themain roster to take into battle. However, the characters that are fleshed outare very memorable and likable, and while my depiction of the game’s story potentiallymade it sound like a bad anime movie, it’s actually quite engaging and well-written. A large majority of the dialogue in the gameis fully-voiced, including the Stars of Destiny that you actually get to interact with, andeach has a distinct personality that shines thanks to the efforts of the voice actors. Battles are pretty easy, but getting intothem is never really annoying, and thanks to the good game balance, there’s no realneed to go EXP grinding. It can be difficult to implement time travelinto any story without causing the audience to continually scratch their heads, but it’sdone well enough here, and the circumstances regarding altering history makes sense…well,as much as it can, really. And finally, I think Woven Web of a Centuryhas a wonderful soundtrack, especially the main theme that is repeated in many of thetracks. There are certain pieces that seem like theyare doing their best to replicate the amazing tracks from the first game. Even recruiting a new Star of Destiny playsa familiar sounding jingle. I really enjoyed every minute that I spentwith Gensou Suikoden: The Woven Web of a Century, and recommend it to role-playing game fanswho like a good story. While it doesn’t share much with the restof the Suikoden series outside of Tierkreis for the DS, it’s a great game in its own right,that probably would have been better received if it hadn’t carried the Suikoden name. With a little more polish and tweaks to thegame mechanics, it could have been one of the classics. It’s a pretty cheap game, definitely one ofthe most affordable PSP RPGs out there, and can also be downloaded on the PSN serviceto use on the PlayStation Portable, Vita, or PSTV. While it never got the limited edition treatmentlike many of the other Suikoden games, there was a special online bundle offered throughKonami’s online store, konamistyle.net, where you could choose to add on a 3-disc soundtrackand drama CD set, an illustration board, a post card, and a materials album loaded withpromotional images, concept art and sketches, and storyboards. Unfortunately, as this game is extremely textheavy, players without Japanese language skills probably won’t get much out of the experience,and there hasn’t been an unofficial English fan translation for it…but who knows, maybethat will change somewhere down the line. As of 2017, this may be where the Suikodenseries has ended, but that doesn’t mean that the series doesn’t still have a strong presencein the hearts and minds of its many fans. Because of that, I organized the Summer OfSuikoden collaboration event with some fellow video makers and Suikoden fanboys. Avalanche Jared, the Dali Popka, Game Dave,Karcamo the Forger of Pain, Super Derek and myself are all spending the summer of 2017making videos about the Suikoden games, through reviews, retrospectives, and possibly more. Check them all out and be sure not to missout on this celebration of all things Suikoden. We’re not the only ones who still feel a particularlystrong fondness for the series, and if more people make that known, who knows, maybe Konamiwill revive the series…and hopefully not as a gambling machine or mobile exclusive. Anyway, I myself will be sure to continueon with the Summer Of Suikoden by working on a few more videos about the series, soI hope you’ll stick around and watch those too. And remember, even at its most powerless,the Suikoden series is never without fanboys. Until next time, this is Jimmy Hapa. Take care.