We had a chance to finally catch up with one of the masterminds behind the Suikoden Revival Movement, a group made up of passionate fans of the Suikoden series, an RPG series that Konami has seemingly abandoned in recent years – despite the fact that most people that have played the games hold them in revered status, sometimes even considering them classic JRPGs.
Despite the pleas of their fans, Konami has been very quiet on the subject and the fate of the series lies in question ever since its creator, Yoshitaka Murayama, departed the developer/publisher in 2002 to become a freelance developer. The latest game in the series, Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki (pictured above), has yet to be localized for a Western release, and there are no signs pointing towards this happening.
Without further ado, check out our interview with Chris Holmes from the Suikoden Revival Movement:
Niche Gamer: What is the Suikoden Revival Movement? How did it get started up and where has it led you to? In your words explain what the essence of Suikoden Revival Movement is all about. For the people who haven’t heard of this movement why should they be involved?
Chris Holmes: The SRM started after a group of Suikoden fans, including myself, had been actively campaigning for the future of the Suikoden series. We had been campaigning and researching for well over a year. As our movement grew in popularity, we decided to launch an actual Suikoden Revival Movement page and see how far we could take it. A collective voice is more powerful than individual voices. The SRM is, in essence, the same as the Suikoden games themselves. That is, we are uniting people from all over the world, from different countries and cultures, to fight for a common goal. A goal with near insurmountable odds. But we shall not give up!
If you are a Suikoden fan, then you should be involved in this movement. Even if you think a Suikoden VI is unlikely, we should at least be united in trying re-release the classic games of the series. Suikoden should be as available as possible to the current and future generation of gamers worldwide. If you have not yet played the series, then why not give our Facebook page a like, give the series a try and see if it captures your heart the same why it has captured the hearts of so many others. Making Suikoden more available in the gaming world can attract new fans as well as give people a chance to play the series without them paying insane amounts of money for used copies of the games.
NG: Now you guys formulated Operation Blinking Mirror (great name by the way) done on December 10th of last year to garner the interest of Konami’s staff. To those who didn’t know what this event was, what was it about? What was the thought behind this event? Why that day?
Holmes: Operation Blinking Mirror marked our first proper step towards the main Konami mothership – the Konami Japan HQ. It’s time they really heard our voice over there. OBM was a mass mail-in campaign in which we invited Suikoden fans from all over the world to show Konami Japan their love for the series. Much mail was sent which included fan art, cosplay pictures, musical arrangements and pleading letters.
The aim of OBM was to show Konami Japan that there is still much love and support for the Suikoden series; that there is still a market for it. We thought tapping into the creative potential of the Suikoden fandom was the best way to show that. We also hope to remind Konami that we want to see the series return to its original storyline, timeline and geography.
Many of our followers are US based. We feel early December is a good time to capitalise on our available numbers as it is right after the Thanksgiving holidays and a little before things start to get really busy before Christmas.
NG: How were the results of Operation Blinking Mirror? Any entries sent that you thought was the most powerful, or most intriguing sent to the Konami staff?
Holmes: The results of OBM seemed pretty good! We are thinking of holding it again this year. Much fanart and written letters were sent. Many print outs of our Rune Of Revival were sent with a small message attached also. My personal favourite was from Indonesian campaigner Mohammad Fahmi who sent a compilation booklet of writing and photos of all his Suikoden activity to date (including pictures of him on his bicycle with advertisements strapped to him try to convince people to join SUIKODEN DAY back in 2012!)
NG: What have been some of the achievements you’ve accomplished ever since starting up the Suikoden Revival Movement?
Holmes: When we first started out we were pretty small. So our initial achievements lay simply in getting some serious recognition. We have since featured in the Official PlayStation Magazine UK, Jim Sterling at Destructoid gave us a shout out and Jason Schreier at Kotaku has been extremely supportive.
Since then, we have forged a strong relationship with Konami UK/EU and we have featured on their website a numerous times. As of yet, however, we are still to achieve any of our actual goals and are working hard towards that end.
NG: Now as most niche JRPG advocates would know, Konami has dissuaded the Suikoden franchise mostly focusing on their heavy hitter titles like Metal Gear Solid or Castlevania:LOS; Do you believe Konami has fully or is on their way to abandoning the franchise?
Holmes: I personally do not think that Konami has fully abandoned the Suikoden series. It is too important a brand name for them – especially in Japan. It is their flagship RPG series. They may, however, have abandoned (or plan to abandon) the Suikoden series of old.
The last two games have been spin off games, completely unrelated to the classic games of the series. From a business perspective, it seems that Konami may see more sense in taking the series in this new direction. It is part of our plan to try and change their minds and dissuade them of that decision.
NG: There’s definitely been a shift in Suikoden’s designs to accommodate costs, wider audience, and new staff by jumping into the handheld market with Suikoden Tierkris and the latest one, Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki for the Playstation Portable, which was not localized. Do you think portable gaming is the right answer for the Suikoden series, should it continue this way?
Holmes: I can not speak for the other admins but personally, I do not think so. I think handheld gaming will continue to drop in popularity as long as smartphones have gaming potential. Unless you do refer to Suikoden released on the mobile platforms? Personally, I would love to see that but I am not sure how the rest of the Suikoden fandom would react.
I would love to see the classic Suikoden games on Android and iOS, for example, and this is one of our goals. Mobile gaming seems like the future at the moment but I would still love to see a Suikoden VI as main console release.
NG: What would be most desirable for the Suikoden community in your opinion? A localized version of the PSP title, Suikoden II on PSN, or a brand new title?
Holmes: At the moment, while I would love to see a Suikoden VI at any time, I would also have to say Suikoden II on PSN. The last thing I would want is for Suikoden VI to flop. We have not had a main Suikoden release since 2006 so it’s safe to say that series has been a bit lost in the woods for a long time now. I think it would be best to change the climate and pave the way for Suikoden VI.
We can start this by having Suikoden II released on PSN worldwide ASAP. It really should have been done by now. I can not stress that enough. Suikoden I should be available on PSN worldwide, also, and not just in the US. But why stop with PSN? I would love to see those two classic games on Steam, Android, iOS and XBLA. And why not see what platforms we can re-release Suikoden IV, V and Tactics on too?
NG: Outside of SRM, was there was another niche title that hasn’t been given any attention? What would you wish to be revived again?
Holmes: I really wanted the Broken Sword series to continue and it looks like that has come true! In recent years, they released a director’s cut of Broken Sword 1 and remastered Broken Sword 2. Broken Sword 5 has now been released and mostly funded via Kickstarter. It is amazing to see the power of fan devotion, an inspiration to me and reinforcement in the belief of my goals with Suikoden.
NG: Konami hasn’t been giving us any word about their plans. Have you guys had any luck with getting responses from them?
Holmes: We continue to build on our good relationship with Konami EU/UK and are just getting the ball rolling with Konami Japan. Konami US do not communicate with us much, unfortunately, however they are more than aware of our existence and plans and pass this on to Konami Japan on our behalf.
We have not yet heard anything concrete from Konami in regards to our goals. But it is still early days and we will work hard to achieve that end.
NG: Is there any new upcoming events planned out for the SRM in 2014? Any plans on how to expand your influence?
Holmes: Yes, please keep an eye out for updates soon in regards to how we plan to campaign in throughout the coming year. There is much to be done :)
Editor’s Note: I am a huge fan of the series, I sincerely hope that the Suikoden Revival Movement gets through to Konami Japan, and that the series gets back on track.