Star Ocean

Also Known As: SO, Star Ocean: Fantastic Space Odyssey
Genre: RPG
Platform(s): SNES
Allegiance: Enix/Tri-Ace
Vintage: 1996
Rating: T
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
In Stardate 346, the explosion of the Planet Ise rocked the Resonia Sector and drew the attention of the Interplanetary Space Federation. Completely unaware of this event, the citizens of Planet Roak still went about their daily business. However, a mysterious plague strikes the city of Cool a mere half-year later. Desperate for assistance, the mayor of Cool sends a letter to the nearby city of Clatos, whose mayor sends Maltos Kiliet to investigate and aid in whatever manner he can. When Maltos sends word back to Clatos two days later that he himself has contracted the disease, his daughter Milly is overcome by despair and rushes off for Cool, pursued by her best friends Ratix Farrence and Dorn Marto. Upon seeing the devastation of Cool, the three vow to journey to the top of Mt. Metox to find a legendary herb that they hope can cure the mysterious disease, but what they find there will change their lives forever…

Weapons Expert Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen 
Overall 8.00
(not an average)
Version Reviewed: SNES This game is unofficially considered the successor to Tales of Phantasia, for good reason, considering that the two games share striking similarities. Both games include vocal sound clips, a unique battle system, fantastic graphics that push the limits of the SNES, and a Sakuraba Motoi OST. However, make no mistakes about it; Star Ocean is not Tales of Phantasia. Spanning only 15-20 hours in duration, Star Ocean is lacking in terms of plot and characterization, and just does not have that epic feel to it to propel it into the ranks of greatness. The first three things that players will notice in Star Ocean are its three greatest strengths: the graphics, the sound, and the battle system. The opening sequence was an excellent display of the level of graphical detail put into Star Ocean, one that is arguably superior to any other SNES game. An extensive palette of colours was used, allowing for unprecedented levels of shading and effects. Aurally, Sakuraba Motoi has composed an OST that ranks among the best ever made. Battle themes are energetic, overworld themes are spirited and optimistic, dungeon themes are dark, and each city’s theme fits beautifully with the city’s personality. Sound effects (including vocal clips) are accurate, crisp, and realistic as well, and help to bring the world of Star Ocean to life. 

The gameplay is a mixed bag. The creative 2D real time battle system (as opposed to side-scrollers) ensures that combat remains fresh and interesting. Each character possesses unique abilities, styles of combat, AI settings, and even boosts in power when characters that they are close to fall in battle. There is the “talents” system, where characters would receive random talents when you first meet them, allowing them to create different things using various items (this is the only game I’ve come across where the super weapon could not be found conventionally). However, about 75% of the items can only be obtained through the use of talents, not just the high level ones. This, combined with the fact that talents take forever to learn, and even when maxed only have about a 25-50% success rate, means that creating good items (or any items) is a mind numbingly tedious process. Also, the inefficient movement system during combat makes setting up effective formations next to impossible, and battles break down into an unorganized slugfest regardless of the player’s actions.