Square Enix Star Ocean Series Thread!


May 5, 2007
Hi Ladies & Gents,

With the announcement of the Star Ocean 1 Remake (PSP Version) coming to PS4, I'm getting excited about the series again, I've never really talked about it on here so I thought I'd make a thread for discussions releated to the series.

S.O. Opinions:

I played Star Ocean 1 on the PSP and really enjoyed it, if a little forgettable... but still a solid JRPG experience!

2. I didn't really enjoy Star Ocean 2... (SHOCK!), I can appreciate it, but the games mechanics are just to messy for its own good. While I like the idea of the PA (Private Action) system, the problem is it isn't intergrated into the game very well making the player have to go out of their way to activate them by revisting places - sometimes even when they just visited them, which is very unnatural. What also annoys me is that this very unaccessible system is important for even unlocking characters! I just feel that to enjoy this game you really have to have your nose stuck in a guide - Which I generally try and avoid. Not to push faouritism, but Final Fantasy IX seemed to have took this system and with it's Active Time Events and made it flow naturally into the game - with added little cutscenes to where we see out party explore the area or other characters in scenarios within the location usually, it just expands the locations presence so much more. I did enjoy the story to a point, but I think the gameplay frustrations sort of took over for me.

I've never actually beaten Till The End of Time - A title I seems to be taking too literal :P I have gotten very far into the game but there is a problem late into the game that ruins it for me - No, it's not the one your expecting! Late into the game enemies start taking away your MP... which in any other game would jsut mean that you can't cast magic, not in SO3! If an enemy Zaps all your MP your character falt out dies! The pure sutpidity of this ruined my enjoyment of the game - Which up to that point would have easily been in my top 10 JRPG experiences! But the idea MP and act as HP too just is flawwed and as soon as enemeis suddenly exploited this, I hated it!

As for the rest of the game, I did enjoy it, I've always liked Star Oceans concept of a race of people with advanced technology being forced to live within a more under developed environment. I also really enjoyed the characters in this one, they're all very different and burstign with charisma, also the games Voice Acting was... okay.
You can't really talk about Star OCean 3 without talking about the plot Twist... it has put many people off the game and I can certainly undertand why but I must say I thoguht it was really cool! You could even say it was before it's time with how Anime/RPG's has stretched the concept of living in a digital world. I think the concept being underplayed until the reveal was very compelling, even if it did sort of undermine the evens of before. Sadly i jsut didn't enjoy the little of what I played after that due to the gameplay mechanics.

4. Yet to play it, I do own the PS4 version and hope to get around to it...though I would like to beat SO3 first :P

I have beat this one! Firstly it is very clear this game was not up to industry standard, I'm Aware of that... but I still actually enjoyed it! They intergrated the PA system much better in this one and I enjoyed a lot of the scenes from them most off all - it's a simply mechanic which really fleshes out the party members very well. Combat felt very similar to SO3 (Minus the MP flaw) and it was cool to have so many party members in battle. Once again I felt the story was a bit forgettable... but I can't say i was dissapointed in general.

I really like the idea of Star Ocean, basically being a sort of Star Trek for JRPGs - Sure thee is Mass Effect for normal RPG's which is great but it's not the same. But I find often there is one big flaw that ruins the game for me or they've just come across as a bit forgettable at times. I still have a lot fo foundness for the series though, despite all that, I have enjoyed many hours into them and like the feel of the combat system, which while action based, still feels like a JRPG.

Curious to what you think on the series :)
Forgot this was out today! I must say though looking at people LiveStream it I question the quality of the Upscale. Backgrounds and characte rmodels look rough - I had the same issue with Sonic Mania and I found when I turned the Sharpness setting on my TV to Zero it looked much better!
Wow so I just got the message in my inbox today about First Departure R being released and since I've never played the original I was considering picking it up.

But I notice that this thread you started a while ago hasn't had much gushing and if there is one thing I love to do it is gush about games I love. While I get and totally respect your issues with Star Ocean: The Second Story, the fact is that I consider it my favorite RPG of all time, higher even than the FF series (being the only RPG to go above it).

The Private Action system is wonderful for both storytelling purposes and for offering neat little side stories and rewards. They also really help flesh out each town. Even backwater nothing towns like Salva or Princebridge (Giveaway in the OG version) can be home to some great sequences. There are also the legendary options to break the game on your second or third playthrough by, say, stealing a certain item from a certain girl before a certain disaster. And of course the Mars Treasure Chest spawn.

The combat is excellent and I think it is a wonderful combination of traditional RPG sensibilities and action RPG gameplay. I will admit the game does give me a certain distaste for magic users as I am constantly getting interrupted by the intricate spell animations, but by the end of the game I'm usually rolling around with three fighters and Rena so it works out (my preferred party is Claude, Ashton, Bowman and Rena on a Claude playthrough and Claude, Dias, Opera, Rena on a Rena playthrough. Or sometimes on a Rena playthrough I'll get the three swordy bois together for stabby goodness).

You're not wrong that the game is fairly cryptic at points and there are some secrets I've yet to unearth to this day (there's an entire sidestory about the Prince of Cross and Celes I've never seen because in spite of what I said a moment ago I always want her in my early game party. There's also some travelling merchant character who you can do a series of sidequests with supposedly). But I really like that because it gives the game incredible replayability. Everything in the game seems to be designed to ensure you never have the same experience twice. The limited recruitable party members, the randomized skills and talents, the various Private Actions and contradictory story arcs. I appreciate that in a game. It's one of the reasons I've played through it so many times.

Speaking of the skills and talents it's probably my favorite thing about the game. The idea of using skills to boost your stats while also functioning to teach you different Item Creation methods was a stroke of genius. And then having those unlock Super Specialty skills to further improve what you could do was even better. It was kind of like the game within the game. I loved the publishing a bunch of books early on, selling them to the Lacour Publisher and then returning near the end of the game to see the ludicrous royalties I'd earned. I loved absolutely ruining all my progress on character relationships by repeatedly spamming the Criminal Acts (Reverse Side) ability. I loved pickpocketing everybody in Private Actions. And I loved trying to cook with somebody who didn't have Dexterity and constantly making Wilted Salads until I'd figured out how the two were connected. The fact that there has to be easily over 1000 items in the game, most of which are curtailed specifically to this system, are a testament to how much love was put into it.

That and the Relationships, which leads to the games plethora of multiple endings, also offer a ton of roleplaying freedom. Sure Bowman is set up to be a good Chemist, but maybe you want to give him a passion for magical photography and start Reproducing all of your best items. Maybe Leon is tired of writing all those dusty tomes of Arcana and wants to express himself through Art. Maybe Noel makes one hell of an Engineer if you just give him the chance.

The thing about RPGs that will always keep us coming back to them is freedom and customization. I've noticed there is an alarming trend of games turning customization trees into incomprehensible nightmare scenarios where only the most optimized builds are worth pursuing. Where freedom of choice boils down to what cosmetic item you would like to wear today. And when I long for the days of a genuinely freeform experience, even within the narrative in some respects, I always find myself drawn back to this game. That's why I have absolutely no hesitation in calling it my favorite RPG of all time.
Has anyone here played the new one - The Divine Force? I've just about beat it and have had a blast!
It's very much like a PS2 era JRPG - And I mean that for better and for worse.

After SO5, I never thought the series would recover - it wasn't offensive but the most unremarkable experience I can think of. So news of the latest game had me anxious. I ended up getting as a Christmas pressie and have put a good 60+ hours into it.

The games premise is very much like the over games which features a sci-fi civilization crash landing on a underdeveloped planet and you explore the difference in cultures as they clash through a dramatic JRPG story. Overall i found the story very compelling! There is a lot of writing put into the game and the concepts it explores are interesting.

The characters too are also a lot of fun to be around and very likeable – Each having valid reason to be apart of the journey. I think the problem with the story is how heavy dialogue the cutscenes are. It is clear the game still had a small budget and lacks many action scenes or suffers a little on certain attempts.
That said, I love the visuals of the game! I've heard a lot people complaining about the doll like characters but I think t hey look really detailed and nice! Also well animated too! One of my favourites was this dark forest overridden with thick vines to climb. I was going up a hill and there would be toads and magical enemies in dark armour hidden in the depths to get you. The DUMA system really leads to a decent amount of verticality to the map layouts.

The combat is a lot of fun too you can assign different commands to 3 face buttons. if you tap it you can assign a 5-hit combo which you can assign the moves from or hold to use a stronger attack - I mostly just used the hold attack. Then there is DUMA, A Sci-fi gadget which acts as a burst jet pack, it allows you to lunge in and strike enemies, I found the combination of this and the power attack to be fitting for most of the game.

The game also has a lot of complex mechanics its item compounding, it has like 7 different settings where you can mix different items and its really only accessible via a game-guide. What's worse is that it's not a matter of just having the items but there is also a percentage of the mix working - which leads to a lot of save scumming! This is essential to tackling the games post content dungeons too.

The game also continues its Private Action sequences which in concept is great, the idea of entering a town and seeing what the other characters are up to is fun. But sadly so has never executed this feature effectively. To get most of the scenes you have to return to areas which aren't story related later on and while they're entertaining they just don't fit into the pace of the game – As there is little incentive to return to these areas past their initial visit.. I still feel FFIX executed the concept better with its Quick Time Events – God I miss that aspect of the game!

I felt compelled to tackle the games post game dungeons and it kept me invested. It is a case of just breaking the game with it's components and accessories which take a lot of prep to get but quick to execute – you can max out your characters levels very quickly once you have the right equipment buffs. The last boss did create a challenge and while looking at advice from guides online I did venture into a little item conjuring of my own to build a set up to beat the Ultimate Boss – A little proud of that too!

Overall I found it to be an above average JRPG with heart. It's a massive step up from the previous game and if they would consider another Star Ocean game I would certainly be on-board!
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This is a series I'll be getting into once the SO2 remake comes out! I've played the 1st game back during the PSP era, and enjoyed it enough (more of the graphics, music and charm than anything else) but I've heard from most people (*cough* Vivi-Gamer *cough*) that it's the best of the series. I actually own all the games since they all went on offer relatively quickly and for really cheap.

Yet another JRPG series to play through. Life is hard.