Suikoden series is loosely based on a classical Chinese novel, Shui Hu Zhuan known as Water Margin by Shi Naian and Luo Guanzhong. Shui Hu Zhuan is rendered as 水滸伝 in Japanese, and read as Suikoden. Each game centers around relative themes of politics, corruption, revolution, mystical crystals known as True Runes, and the "108 Stars of Destiny" — 108 protagonists also very loosely interpreted from the source material.
The games, standard to most RPGs, commonly feature random over world and dungeon battles, inn-based game saves, a turn-based, menu-operated combat system, mini-games and side quests. Saved game data can be transferred from Suikoden to Suikoden II, and Suikoden II to Suikoden III (Suikogaiden Vol.1 can also receive data from Suikoden II, and is transferable to Suikogaiden Vol.2, but only in Japan), and from Suikoden IV to Suikoden Tactics (Rhapsodia in Japan) and now Suikoden V.
Suikoden implements many features as each title allows players, in varying degrees, to:
- Conduct strategically pitched war campaigns.
- Participate in turn based, one-on-one duels.
- Build an immensely large headquarters that grows as the story progresses (and only develops fully if all the characters are recruited).
- Recruit a colorful cast of 108 pre-determined characters, each specializing in various aspects of combat or support.
Essentially, each game follows the plot formula of a coup d'état by corrupt power holder(s), the main protagonist's exile from his/her home, the disastrous misuse of the True Runes, the hero's struggle, despite overwhelming odds, to bring peace to the land alongside his/her friends, and the climactic showdown with the corrupted True Rune.
- Main article: Timeline
While the main series is numbered, each individual game takes place either before or after a consequent installation. The second and third Suikoden games were each direct sequels of their respective predecessors but with Suikoden IV, the series began to delve into prequels in which events take place earlier than any of the other games. The sequence according to in-universe chronology is as follows:
- Suikoden IV (150 years before Suikoden)
- → Suikoden V (6 years before Suikoden)
- → Suikoden
- → Suikoden II (3 years after Suikoden)
- → Suikoden III (18 years after Suikoden)
Prequels and Sequels
- Genso Suikoden Card Stories
- Suikoden Tierkreis
- Genso Suikoden TIERKREIS: Castle of Stardust
- Genso Suikoden: The Woven Web of a Century