I've never had a single iota of interest in Suikoden. The villain of the second installment is routinely held up by Suikoden's boosters as one of the greatest characters in video games, and their rationale rests on one of two arguments: a) there's a scene where he guts a helpless civilian while calling them a pig that gets a lot of people hard, and b) he kills a lot of people. Any franchise where those are the best arguments in its favor is not one I'm compelled to know.

There are many reasons to like villains. They might have style. They might be interesting characterwise, allowing the story to explore neglected parts of the psyche. They might be grappling with challenges and injustices to which a more-naive hero might be blind. (This is particularly true in video games, a medium where adolescents are frequently the target audience and the models for the heroes, who consequently are caught up in adolescent goals like proving their worth and might be oblivious to concerns outside that narrow focus.) They even might actually be right.

Sheer death toll is not among these reasons. Now, with the announcement of a Suikoden remaster, we'll again be regaled with what a storytelling and/or erotic masterstroke it is to tell someone to die like a pig. I look forward to this like getting teeth drilled.

Besides, if sheer murder is the sole metric for great villainy, then I ask you: has Suikoden II's villain ever punched a man's head clear off his shoulders? I submit not.

(That extraordinarily valiant last stand by the deceased deserves more respect than any idea presented by Camp Pig Stick.)


#2 me, at last 2022-12-19 22:36
Zump, I apologize for getting back to you so late here after you were kind enough to leave a comment. Oh, man - I was aware of the rape backstory, but not of the "revealed only in a fan magazine" bit. Given the high regard in which the villain is held, I would have expected that edgelord piece of lore to be front and center. I'm feeling even better now about not bothering with the title.
#1 Zump 2022-10-26 00:41
I played the first five hours of Suikoden II, and I was not impressed. I don’t regret dropping it because I know some who finished it, and he declared it one of the worst games he had ever played. Basically, the game’s story is less a first draft and more of a series of bullet points clumsily assembled by a guy who had never written a work of fiction in his life. The characters are barely one-note (the villain has no development beyond what you described here), the gameplay is weightless, and the attempts at political intrigue are incoherent. One thing my friend found out upon further research is that the villain’s backstory was revealed not the game but in a Japan-only fan magazine published a full year after the game’s release. And his origin? He went crazy because as a child he saw his mother get murdered and raped by bandits while his father the king stood by and did nothing.

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