Suikoden creator on how to make a spiritual successor to the classic JRPG

The original PlayStation is known for its diverse library of games, but no genre is as synonymous with the system as JRPGs. In its five-year lifespan, the console produced an astonishing number of instant classics, including three beloved games from Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, Vagrant Story, and Suikoden II, among others. Yoshitaka Murayama, the original creator behind the latter, hopes to reclaim that golden era of JRPGs with his next adventure, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.

Earlier this year, Murayama and a handful of other industry veterans founded Rabbit & Bear Studios, an independent development studio based in Tokyo, Japan. The company’s first project, Eiyuden Chronicle, is a classic turn-based RPG forged in the mold of Suikoden II.

“The first thing we decided when our members came together was: ‘It is time for us to make a really interesting game that we ourselves want to make,'” Murayama said in a press release. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Eiyuden Chronicle revisits the themes and aesthetics that defined his work from the PlayStation era.

The images in particular evoke the feel of Murayama’s classic PS One. The game features stunning 2.5D graphic style reminiscent of Octopath Traveler, Square Enix’s own consciously retro RPG. This similarity is not accidental. “From a graphical perspective, Octopath Traveler has inspired us and given us hope that there is a middle ground between new and old that a wide audience can appreciate,” Murayama told GameSpot via email.

Eiyuden Chronicle work in progress screenshot
Eiyuden Chronicle work in progress screenshot
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5

Along with Murayama on the project are other Suikoden veterans, Junko Kawano (Suikoden, Suikoden IV) and Osamu Komuta (Suikoden Tactics, Suikoden Tierkreis), as well as Junichi Murakami (Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow). For Murayama and Kawano, the Eiyuden Chronicle marks the first time in 25 years that the two have collaborated on a project, but that long gap has not been an obstacle. “I wish I could say that we have all grown and changed in many ways, but it seems that nothing has changed in the last 25 years!” Kawano says. “But it definitely feels like you’re seeing long lost friends in your city that you missed a lot. I’m sure it feels like a strange warp of time.”

War and friendship

Like its spiritual predecessors, the Eiyuden Chronicle story is told in the context of war. The game follows a young warrior named Nowa and his friend, Seign Kesling. Nowa hails from a small village in a remote corner of the League of Nations, while Seign is an imperial officer of the Galdean Empire, a militarily advanced nation that has figured out how to amplify the magical powers of an artifact called the “lens of the runes.” . With this power, the empire marches to the other territories around the Allraan continent in search of more artifacts that can be used to strengthen its dominance over the land.

Character art with Nowa and Seign
Character art with Nowa and Seign

As fate would have it, Nowa also encounters a rune lens while on a mission, and the discovery will eventually ignite a confrontation between the League of Nations and the Galdean Empire, and will test her friendship with Seign. This is a subject that has long intrigued Murayama. “One of the main topics I like to focus on is ‘What is a hero?’ But also, how do friendships and relationships affect the course of history? “Says Murayama. “A single option to defend a friend or an alliance may be the spark that starts a world-altering war. I find it terribly interesting.”

Hundred heroes

Suikoden’s hallmark is its expansive cast; Each entry features over 100 unique recruitable characters, each of which plays a role in the overall story, and it’s clear from the caption that Eiyuden Chronicle will continue that tradition. Like Suikoden, the game will have 100 heroes to recruit, and as these characters join your ranks, you will gradually build a base of strength. Naturally, coming up with backstories and unique personalities for such an extensive cast is challenging.

“Of course, it is a major nuisance,” says Murayama. “You not only have to create 100 characters and their backstories, but also how they relate to each other and the role they will play. It’s an incredibly complicated website. And even from the beginning, as the caption says, this is a story about heroes. So our hope is to work with the community to build these same heroes to a large extent as the community also grows organically. “

For Kawano, who serves as lead artist and character designer for the Eiyuden Chronicle, this extensive roster of actors presents a different kind of challenge. “It is not difficult to create new characters,” says Kawano. “In a title like this where you have to create a lot, it’s more about endurance. Especially towards the end of development … you’re getting so many things into the last minute. However, the difficult part is after you’re done and off track, it always feels like you’ve missed the opportunity to add this character or that character. So that regret is the worst part. “

A new challenge

Although Eiyuden Chronicle deliberately dates back to Suikoden and other classic JRPGs in many ways, Murayama hopes the game will be seen on its own merits. “I don’t want to be defined by my past,” he says. “This game represents an extension of some of the games and systems that I have perfected during my many years as a game developer, but it is a new title and needs to be independent.

“Eiyuden represents a great challenge for us. At the heart of that challenge is making a game that is intensely satisfying and just plain fun. While many people have doubts and issues with crowdfunding and Kickstarter, it is still the best chance that an old Creator like me have your own intellectual property and interact with a serious group of fans who are investing in the project from scratch. Something that requires serious commitment. It may sound corny, but it is easy to hesitate and be negative. Take a real hero to believe in something “.

Rabbit & Bear is raising funds to develop Eiyuden Chronicle through Kickstarter. The crowdfunding campaign runs until August 28, although it has already proven to be an overwhelming success; Donations exceeded the study’s original goal of $ 500,000 in just two hours and reached the goal of $ 1 million to bring the game to consoles in less than a day. The positive response from fans to the team humiliates him, writing on Twitter: “I can’t believe it was funded so quickly! Many people have no hope in Kickstarter, so I was so scared. Thank you so much to my heroes! I will a great game for you! “

Eiyuden Chronicle is tentatively planned to launch in the fall of 2022.