Mini-Review: Aero the Acrobat

When I was a kid, I tried several different types of video games that I could get my hands on. One type that I played the most was platforms. Aero the Acrobat was a platform game that I played almost as much as the Mario games during the Super Nintendo era. This game was released not only for the Super Nintendo, but for the Sega Genesis and the Game Boy Advance as well. For this review, I’m looking at the Super Nintendo version.

Aero the Acrobat was developed by Iguana Entertainment, and published by Sunsoft in 1993 for the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. In 2002, it got a Game Boy Advance release which was developed by Metro 3D.

Like many platform games from 90s, the game itself doesn’t give the player a clear understanding on what the story is by simply playing it. It’s one of those games where you have to read the manual to know the plot. Aero the Acrobat follows a bat name Aero, who is the star of a circus. It’s up to him to stop Edgar Ektor, an ex-circus clown who’s bent on revenge. Why is it up to Aero to stop Edgar? What’s the reason for Edgar’s revenge? Who’s the person or people that Edgar is taking his revenge on? Both the game and the manual don’t explain this. To be honest, you don’t need to know or understand the plot to enjoy this game.

Aero the Acrobat has four stages. Three out of the four stages has about four to five levels. The first two stages have two additional levels: a hidden level which you can only to get it by finding a certain item called the bonus item and a boss level. While several other perform games have you go from one side of a level to other to beat a level, this game has different objectives to beat each level while going from one side of the level to the other. For example, one level has you jump on a seven star platforms while another level has you ride a roller coaster. While each objective seems simple, each level has its challenges, and each one becomes harder from the previous level.

As for the music, I found it catchy. There are moments where I’m humming the songs while playing, and not once muted the game.

As much I like this game, there is a flaw. I found the controls to be loose. Because of this, I have dead a lot, and, to this day, haven’t beaten the game. I can see some people getting frustrated and turn this game away because of this. Despite this flaw, Aero the Acrobat is worth a try. Now some of you may be wondering about how I know how many levels and stages that this game has. It is very simply. The manual tells you.

So, if you are looking a challenging game, Aero the Acrobat may scratch the inch. At this moment, you can get this game under $20 on Amazon.

 

Suikoden II

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When Suikoden was first released in Japan in 1995, I believe the creators didn’t know how well the game would sell. As a result to the surprise success of Suikoden, a sequel was made. Suikoden II is set three years after the original game, but this time taking place at the Jowston League of City-States and the Highland Kingdom which are location north of the Scarlet Moon Empire.

The hero in this game is a young boy named Riou. He and his friend, Jowy, are part of the Unicorn Brigade; an army consists of youths who serve the Highland army. The City-States has formed a cease fire with the Highland Kingdom. However, just when everything seemed to be peaceful, a rain of arrows showers down on the camp that Riou and Jowy are stationed at. During the chaos, the two friends discover a shocking truth behind the attack. It seems that the one responsible for the ambush is none other than Luca Blight, Prince of the Highland Kingdom, who plans to rekindle the hatred between the two troubled nations. After learning the awful truth, Riou and Jowy run for their lives, and blindly jump off a cliff into a river. Little did they know, the river currents will separated them, and they will forever change the destiny of the two nations. The two friends end up working separately through the ranks of each country, eventually rising as their leaders.

While the first Suikoden dealt with a corrupt government and military, Suikoden II deals with “brother verses brother”, a theme which rarely is explored in video games. Though Jowy and Riou aren’t blood related, the two are childhood friends and do act like brothers. As the game progresses, the player can see how the war affects these two characters greatly.

Like the first Suikoden, there are 108 characters to recruit, and you don’t have to get all of them to beat the game. About two-thirds of the recruiting characters in Suikoden II are new while about a third of them have made a reappearance from the previous game. There is a little bonus to this game. If you saved at the last save point in Suikoden, you can transfer the game data to Suikoden II, and you can meet Tir McDohl (the hero from Suikoden). If you got all 108 characters in the first game, you can also meet Tir’s traveling buddy. Both characters can join your party, but they’re not part of the recruiting characters.

The graphics of Suikoden II are a total upgrade from Suikoden. There’s a little more detail in the background and characters. Even the opening gets an upgrade. Where Suikoden’s opening is mostly spirits and some game play footage, the intro of Suikoden II is mostly hand drawn, almost animated, with some CGI.

Like the first Suikoden, there 3 types of battles: Basic Battles, 1-on-1 Duels, and War Battles. While the Basic Battles is about the same in both games, there are some changes with the duels and the War Battles. The only thing that has change for the duels is that the “Desperate Attack” has changed to “Wild Attack.” For the War Battles, there is a major difference between the two games. The War Battles in Suikoden is basically a menu base battle where each turn you choose an action and then a group or character that is listed under that action. The War Battles in Suikoden II, however, is more tactics. You can move the characters and choose which action they should do.

There is one small improvement with the endings. Where Suikoden had 2 endings that had very little differences between them, Suikoden II had 3 endings. Fans of this series call the 3 endings: bad, good, and perfect, because, depending how many of the recruiting characters you got, determines each ending you get. However, the bad and good endings of Suikoden II is similar to Suikoden by being about the same but slightly different. Both endings have Riou becoming the leader of a new country. The difference between the two is that with one ending you choose to be the new leader, and, with the other one, you’re force to become the new leader. The perfect ending is just Riou traveling the world with two people.

There is a spin-off Suikoden game called Gensō Suikogaiden. This game is a two part series that follows Nash. This game takes place during and after Suikoden II. Suikogaiden is more of a visual novel than role playing game. However, to my knowledge, Suikogaiden was never released outside of Japan. So people outside Japan won’t met Nash until Suikoden III.

Overall, Suikoden II is a good sequel that you don’t have to play the previous game. Like the Suikoden, if you like to play this game, you’re most likely have to borrow from someone, because the cost of Suikoden II is over $100.

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Suikoden: the Underrated RPG

RPGs (role playing games) are my favorite genre of video games. The two games that introduced me to this genre were Final Fantasy VII and Suikoden. Although Final Fantasy VII was one of my first RPG games and was the game that introduced me into the Final Fantasy series, it was Suikoden that got me truly into the RPG world. Since then, I enjoy playing RPGs more than any other video game. However, there is something about the Suikoden series that always draws me back to them.

This series is loosely based on a classical Chinese novel, Shuihu Zhuan (also known as Water Margin), by Shi Naian and Luo Guanzhong. The novel’s concept of the hundred and eight Stars of Destiny becomes a defining feature of the Suikoden series. However, in the games, you don’t need to recruit all hundred and eight Stars of Destiny to beat the game. If you do get all hundred and eight Stars of Destiny, you get a bonus ending.

In each Suikoden game, the player decides the name of the protagonist. However, each protagonist does have an official name based off of several publications, sometimes several names depending on the sources:

 

  • Suikoden – Tir McDohl (Drama CD and novelization) and Ryūi (manga).
  • Suikoden II­ – Riou (Drama CD and novelization) and Tao (manga)
  • Suikoden IV – Lazlo (novelization)
  • Suikoden V –  Freyjadour (novelization) and Ardil (manga)

 

For right now, I’m going to talk only about the first Suikoden game. The game follows Tir McDohl, the son of the famous general, Teo McDohl, of the Scarlet Moon Empire. While his father is away leading battles in the north, Tir is left behind in the empire, along with several of his companions/bodyguards. While originally working as a low level errand boy for the empire, his fate begins to change when his friend, Ted, uses the Soul Eater Rune, one of the twenty-seven True Runes, against a strong enemy. This action sparked interests among the nobles of the Scarlet Moon Empire, especially Windy, the court magician. After being sold out by a rotten commanding officer as traitors, Tir and his friends are forced to flee the capital city of Gregminster. As they flee, Ted gives the Soul Eater Rune to Tir before he sacrifice himself so the others could escape. Tir and his friends eventually meet Odessa, the leader of the liberation army. Through various circumstances, Tir soon takes her position, and must overthrow the Empire.

If I have to describe Suikoden in one word, it would be unique. From the graphics to the story, I find everything in this game to be creative. Even though this game was originally released on the PlayStation in 1996, the graphics look like they have been done for the Super NES or the Sega Genesis. Both the sprites and the backgrounds are lovely. During the fight scenes, the camera will zoom in close to the enemy when you do a critical blow. Also the spell graphics are wonderful.

Like I said before, there are hundred and eight characters to recruit. About ninety characters fight with the hero in battles while about twenty characters are supporters. Although there are a lot of characters to recruit in Suikoden than any other RPG, there is a flaw about this which is a lack of character development. Only a few characters do get some development. However, there is a good thing about having so many characters. About a third of the fighting characters team up and do combo attacks in battle. These team ups are mostly groups made up of two or three characters.

Speaking of battles, there are three battle modes:

  • Basic Battle: The most common form of battle with a team made up of six characters. This mode allows the player to control the six party members with different commands such as “Fight” where the player manually chooses the action he/she wants the characters to do, “Run” to escape, “Bribe” to use the party’s money to bribe the enemy for escape, and “Auto” where the game automatically selects the “Attack” command for every character.
  • One-on-One Duels: A battle where a character fights in a one on one duel and happens only in special events. There are three commands: Attack, Defend, and Desperate Attack. This type of battle is like rock, paper, and scissors. Attack beats defend. Defend beats desperate attack. Desperate attack beats attack.
  • Strategic War Battle: A battle between armies. The commands are Charge, Bow, Magic, and Other. Like the duels, the war battles are like rock, paper, and scissors. Charge beats bow. Bow beats magic. Magic beats charge. The “Other” commend lets the player find out what is the enemy’s next move or to get a hint.

The magic in this game comes in the form of magical orbs known as Runes. You can get these orbs from Rune Shops, or sometimes as rewards from battles and treasure chests. There are three areas where you equip a Rune on a character: Left Hand, Right Hand, and Head. There are twenty-seven legendary Runes known as True Runes. Not all of the True Runes have appeared at once in a single Suikoden game, and only eighteen out of the twenty-seven have appeared in the series. The hero of each Suikoden game will come across and contain a True Rune sometime in the games (mostly near the beginning).

As for the plot, Suikoden is one of the first games to break away from the “mysterious stranger saving the world” story. Instead, this game deals more with a corrupt government/military story, and the hero is someone who just started working for that government/military. The plot is original and simple that the later Suikoden games have a similar story with some changes here and there. However, I have a mix feeling with the ending. What I like about the ending is that, while the credits roll, the profile pictures of each of the hundred and eight Stars of Destiny appears with some information on what each of them are doing after the game. What I didn’t care the ending is that there’s not a big difference between the special ending and the normal ending. The only difference is that in the special ending after the credits you see someone leaving a city with the hero while in the normal ending only the hero is leaving the town.

Despite the ending, Suikoden is a great game to introduce anyone to RPG video games and/or the Suikoden series. However, if you can to play this game, I have to say you should borrow it from a friend who has it, because the cost of this game is $100+.