Star Ocean: The Second Story - Retroview

The Adventure for the Beginner
By: Solon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 7
   Music & Sound 6
   Originality 7
   Story 4
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Easy
   Completion Time 15-40hrs  

So much to learn..
So much to learn..

   This is probably one of the cutest titles ever released on Playstation. While it was short and didn't have the best plot of all time, Star Ocean 2 was still one of those very enjoyable games that lasted a long long time. And I'm not only taking about finsihing the main scenario.

   Perhaps the most interesting part about Star Ocean 2 is the battle system. When I first played it, I thought it was almost too overkill to be true. Even in the beginning, the skills the different characters perform are wonderful (and devastating). Battles are in real-time, and everything happens within seconds from the start of the battle. Preferably, you control one of the characters in your party, and set up some tactics for the rest. As soon as you've encountered a group of enemies, everybody starts running around, casting spells, using skills, screaming, killing! This is a load of fun, and it never stops. Instead, it just keeps getting better and better. The only battle system I've ever seen surpassing this is the one found in Tales of Destiny 2. To be a little more serious though, battles can be quite a challenge in Star Ocean 2 as well. You may want to set up a good mix of skill usage between the characters you aren't controlling, otherwise they may end up wasting all their resources on weak enemies and you won't have anything left for the bosses or the stronger enemies. There are tons of skills and abillities to learn, and there are a lot of different characters to choose from as well.

   Star Ocean 2 has a lot more than just battles though. While browsing through the pretty Interface, we see things we have never seen before. There is cooking, playing music, creating your own items, pickpocketing and a lot more. While there are tons of menus and different choices here, it is still easy to navigate through it. I don't know how I should explain it, but there is something like a childish feeling over the whole system... I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just that it has that feeling....yeah.

   What's more, some of the characters are quite young and immature as well. You get used to it though, and there is quite a lot of character development if you check out all the extra sequences in each town. While there aren't that much talking (but still a good translation), the characters still have spectacular voices. Only the mighty Valkyrie Profile manages to surpass the voices in Star Ocean 2. Especially the voices in battle are cool, and there is a superior flow to it. This goes for the music as well, most of the themes are happy and fast, while there are some sad ones here and there. Composed by Motoi Sakuraba, the music fits perfectly into the world of Star Ocean.

Gaining 3 levels in one battle isn't really rare in this game
Gaining 3 levels in one battle isn't really rare in this game

   I had some mixed feelings about the originality in this game. The way of handling characters (such as the tons of skills you can concentrate on) are new, and so is the optional events in each town. The battle system differs much from other RPGs as well. Other than that, much of it can be seen in any other RPG... much of it is basic. This goes for the graphics as well. I mean, they are okay, it's not like I can't stand it. I've seen much prettier RPGs for the Playstation, but I have to say that the Ending movie in Star ocean 2 might be the most beautiful I've seen... or maybe that's just how I remembered it.

   The plot isn't that complicated either for that matter. It's the usual "save the world"-theme, but it somehow also feels that it doesn't matter too much, as the game almost entirely concentrates on the battles. What's quite cool about this though, is that you have the abillity to choose from two different main characters in the beginning of the game, which gives the game a little higher replay value as well. Depending on who you choose, some scenes will change, and you cannot gain access to the same characters. What also give the game a higher repaly value is the massive amount of endings available. While there are almost 80 endings (or so I've heard), one can easily figure out that they don't differ much from each other. But still, it's a fun experiencing at least a few of them.

   Fortunately for the beginners in the RPG genre, Star Ocean 2 is a very simple game. It can be beaten in 15 Hours, and you won't have much trouble at any time throughout the game, not even on the bosses. However, there are some difficult side quests for the more skilled players, especially the Cave of Trials. This is a long dungeon dedicated to leveling up your party (much like the Seraphic Gate in Valkyrie Profile, only this came first). If you want to beat most of the sidequests including the Cave of Trials, you will probably be playing this game for about 40 Hours or more.

   In conclusion, this is a good game. It's not like this is your ultimate RPG experience, but it's well worth the cheap price.

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