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Operation Blinking Mirror: A Suikoden Success Story

Operation Blinking Mirror: A Suikoden Success Story

suikoden-i-ii-20051201031523356After the controversial announcement of the XboxOne we saw how loud and powerful the collective gamer voice could be. We saw how through sheer will and vocal outcry we were able to change the shape of the console and as such the market itself. The industry trembled that day. People began to realise that we could in fact shape the industry the way we wanted. Long before that, however, fans of one particular gaming franchise were attempting this on a smaller scale. Dedicated fans of the Suikoden series were trying to make themselves heard by Konami, to bring back the long rested but not forgotten JRPG franchise. Through the Suikoden Revival Movement they have continued to remind the games publisher Konami just how important these games are to them and to ensure they are not forgotten. Suikoden is a sleeping dragon, and these fans aim to wake it.

Starting in 2010 the Suikoden Revival Movement has grown in almost typical Suikoden fashion, from a small dedicated number into a huge army of supporters. The group now stands at over 16,000 followers with the Operation Blinking Mirror Facebook event itself now boasting in excess of 1600. Operation Blinking Mirror is the groups latest campaign and aims to bombard Konami HQ with fan related work between December 10th-12th. Fans are being encouraged to send any sort of appreciation for the series, ranging from fan-fiction, covers of music, letter, cosplay pictures, art and anything they can think of to show how much they care in a creative manner. Fans are also being urged to buy the first Suikoden game off the US Playstation Network on December 15th, in a bid to give the game an unexpected rise in sales.

Fan movements such as this really enforce the passion people can garner for their favourite game. Communities sprout up around games and fans share their art and fan-fiction, dress up as their favourite characters and cover their favourite pieces of music. It’s a wonderful thing for gaming to have and for everyone to come together like this to make a difference is truly amazing.

Suikoden4As a huge fan of Suikoden II I could not turn down the opportunity to take part in this movement. Suikoden II remains one of my all time favourite games. It’s solid combat system, fast loading, enthralling story complete with political intrigue, history and strife, it’s huge cast of 108 recruitable characters (that’s right, 108!) and rather mature handling of war and it’s themes really sets it apart from others. I still play and get enjoyment from it today. Doing so however is far from easy. The game was a limited print and getting hold of a copy is near impossible without spending hundreds on eBay or emulating the game illegally. I was delighted to hear that Suikoden I was available for digital download on PSN but dismayed to find out that it was for the US only. Thankfully you can still create an account but its not simple to do (involves inputting US zip codes) and limits access to the game. I myself once tried to purchase a network voucher to buy the game but the website was a fraud and lost my money as well as my will to pursue the purchase. There are legit sites you can buy from but these are some of the problems fans face when simply trying to play the series in the modern age. Why is it only available for US PSN and not EU? For those in the UK we feel especially exasperated because the game wouldn’t require any translation. Is it a licensing issue? We just don’t know. Konami is silent on that front.

Commonly rated as one of the greatest JRPG’s of all time, Suikoden II would undoubtedly pull in a cash cow for Konami so big they’d have to house it in its own… cash barn. They know the fan interest is beyond huge so why have they not acted on it? In a gaming generation where it’s easy for games to be re-released digitally with no real financial risk it truly is baffling why they have not moved on this. And thus the fans have asked for answers and more! JRPG’s were relatively absent this console generation (PS3, Xbox360, Wii) compared to the golden age of Playstation 1 where Suikoden made it’s mark but do look to be making a comeback. If this wave continues then surely there is no better time for Konami to bring back the series. They have kept relatively quiet about Suikoden, refusing to confirm or deny anything solid. Could they already have something in the pipeline or do they simply not want to quash fans hopes? Only time will tell.

With the campaign just days away I took the opportunity to speak to co-founder of the Suikoden Revival Movement, Chris Holmes.

Suikoden2Where does your story with Suikoden begin? And how exactly did the Suikoden Revival Movement come about?

My story of Suikoden begins in 1999 after the release of Suikoden II. I played Suikoden I and II back to back. And I have not looked back since.

In regards to the Suikoden Revival Movement. Campaigning actually began back in late 2010. Myself and fellow admin Ryan Hughes grew tired of the situation the Genso Suikoden series has now found itself in. We are both members of Suikoden fan website, Suikosource.com, and used to debate a lot on there about the future of the Suikoden series. We could see that a lot of fans felt as frustrated as we did but tended to vent these frustrations rather than constructively coming up with a plan to try and resurrect the series. Also, due to the popularity of Facebook, we started to meet a lot of like minded and genuinely lovely Suikoden fans form around the world. This added to our excitement and created a new ”Suikoden buzz” in our lives!

Therefore, we started to campaign and tried to gain some sort of foothold with the various Konami branches. Inspired by our efforts, many Suikoden fans started to follow suit. Eventually, the two of us could not sustain campaigning on our own. In July 2012, fellow Suikosource member, Mathias Micheel, suggested we create a page via social media too keep all the campaigning and fans in the one place. This is an idea we had been toying with for some time. It was the natural next step. Thus, the Suikoden Revival Movement was born with the three of us at the helm. Another member of the Suikosource forums, Dan, joined us back in December 2012 and has been instrumental, contributing much toward the movement.

suikoden1Just from looking at the Facebook page it’s clear that the response to this has been incredibly positive. Did you expect this volume of fan response and do you think the end result will surprise you yet?

It sure has been positive! To be honest, I did expect a lot of ‘likes’ as I know full well that there is a genuine demand for the Suikoden series. I knew that if we marketed our idea well and handled things correctly, we could get a good thing going here. I did not, however, expect there to be just so many wonderful fans and ones that are as passionate about this as us! It has been a tough journey though and we still have a long we to go. But, together, we can make a difference

Is there any particular end game for the movement? What kind of response from Konami would you personally like to see?

SuikodenIdeally, we want more main Suikoden instalments i.e. Suikoden VI! But we realise the mammoth complexity of this task. We want to revive the Suikoden series. This means ensuring that Suikoden is as available as possible to the current and future generations of gamers. This can be achieved by the re-release of the current games on digital distribution worldwide i.e. PSN, XBLA, Steam, Android and iOS. We hope Konami and the fans can work together to promote such re-releases properly too. Not only is all this the most realistic option to pave the way for an eventual Suikoden VI, but it also gives the Genso Suikoden series the spotlight and respect that it truly deserves. I would be happy with that. But I will always keep pushing for that Suikoden VI.

Suikoden fans of course originate from all over the world. However your Facebook page contains translations in Indonesian. Just how large a part of the community do they represent?

Suikoden II cover (US)I do not know exact figures of just how many Suikoden fans there are in Indonesia, but I can confirm that they represent almost 5,000 of our current 18,000 likes. I have been told that the Suikoden series is still the 2nd most popular RPG series, behind only Final Fantasy, in Indonesia to this day. Dedication!

Suikoden fans will of course understand the reference behind the naming of the movement but for those unenlightened are you able to shed light on this?

Blinking Mirror is a reference to an item you acquire in each game of the Suikoden series. It allows you to teleport back to your HQ no matter where you are on the World Map. As Konami true HQ is situated in Japan, we thought it would be fitting to name this campaign ‘Operation Blinking Mirror’; a campaign that allows our followers worldwide to make their voice heard at the Konami HQ!

Previous endeavours from Suikoden fans have seen the yearly Suikoden Day campaigns on the release dates of each instalment in the franchise. Was there any particular reason behind the dates chosen for Operation Blinking Mirror?

SUIKODEN DAY 2013 was held on July 11th. Operation Blinking Mirror was announced straight after this. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity of the best part of 6 months to prepare for OBM. It also gives Konami Japan another 6 months to reply to us before we start campaigning heavily again later in 2014.

206066-suikoden_usWhat is it exactly about Suikoden that has created such a fervent fan base so keen to see its resurgence?

In my opinion, Suikoden is one of the greatest stories ever told. It has a very mature, intriguing, politically driven and spiritually motivated plot. The huge array of characters, in itself, is such a great and unique reason to play such an epic series. The size of the geography, different countries, cities and cultures is also very appealing. Such an epic sized world and story with hundreds of interesting and relatable characters, who mostly all have interesting back stories, is reason in itself to try these games out. I think it is this continuity between the games which sets it apart from other RPG series and keeps us fans wanting more and more. I think all us Suikoden fans deeply appreciate the continuous story and returning characters throughout the games. It what we want to see in games. Bearing this in mind, we are also very aware of the potential that Suikoden possesses as a great game series. Unfortunately, due to many many reasons, Suikoden did not really ever generate the success that it truly deserved outside of Japan.

Add all this together and you can see why fans feel there is still so much more to be done with the Suikoden series. It is such a shame to see it go to waste.

Konami have at times responded to the movement and highlighted everyone’s efforts. Has there been any official response to Operation Blinking Mirror?

115768-suikodenSo far, no. But they are no doubt aware of the upcoming OBM event. We shall wait until afterwards, probably even into 2014, to see what kind of response we get from Konami exactly.

You’ve certainly done enough to get the ball rolling on this incredible fan campaign but can you tell us if there’s anything you will be sending Konami yourself?

I am not sure what the other admins are sending but, personally, I am sending a rather large letter/essay I have previously sent to Konami USA. A wonderful Suikoden fan was kind enough to translate all 20 pages into Japanese for me Probably too big a letter for Konami to read but I feel it has to be sent! What are you sending Alan?

I will also be sending a heartfelt fan letter, pleading them to bring Suikoden II to PSN! Any last words you would like to add?

Please spread the word of the movement! And, of course, Operation Blinking Mirror. Please join us campaigners. Its time to bring Suikoden home. Its time to bring this classic series back. Together we can make a difference. Together we can bring back Suikoden! Thank you very much for listening.
-Chris Holmes

If you’re interested in taking part in Operation Blinking Mirror then by all means send whatever you feel appropriate to:
Konami Digital Entertainment B.V
14-16 Sheet Street
Windsor,

Sl4 1BG

But please do NOT send anything until between Dec 10th-12th!!

You can also join the movement on Facebook and Twitter:

https://www.facebook.com/SuikodenRevival
https://twitter.com/SuikodenRevival

MOAR FROM CALMDOWNTOM!

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