I dread playing through the beggining of Suikoden V, especially the senate hall and stormfist arena. I have a saved file at Rainwall and thats where i usually start from, unless i want to be bored shitless for several hours. I like to have the option of hearing parts that make up the backstory like in the inn at Gregminster in Suikoden where you can hear about the 6 generals if you want, its not inforced like in Suikoden V.
I like starting the game in the deep end and working stuff out. It would be nice to see more branching paths in Suikoden like in Tactics Ogre, where a vital choice near the beggining of the game determines which side you fight for, a chaotic path and a lawfull path. Suikoden II and V touch on this with the fleeing tinto path and defending the castle path but imagine you could choose to fight for either highland or the City States and whatever you choose Jowy did the opposite, it would take alot more work though considering it would be two completly different games in one.
Other games that i think have good begginings are Vandal hearts, Legacy of Kain: Blood omen which throw you into the action pretty much strait away and breath of fire III, although it has a slow start, i just really enjoy playing the start of that game for some unknown reason. Games that i think do not have such a good beggining are Vandal hearts II, the Grandia's, Zelda twilight princess all for the same reason, that the begginings are too slow and too long with little too keep the player intetested. I cant comment on kingdom hearts as ive never played it, what games do you think suikoden could learn from?
The first four Suikoden's start well enough, III's trinity site system was a unique way to convey the first half of that game and i like that you can choose who you would like to play as first. I and IV where a little rushed but those games are much shorter so thats understandable. I would have to say that Suikoden II has the best pace so far. The game just continues to improve the longer you play it.