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One Of The Most Complete RPGs Ever: Star Ocean: The 2nd Story

This is specifically for all the old-school role-playing fans out there. You know who you are.

I stumbled across my collection of strategy guides today; back in the days of my RPG obsession, I would always get the guide when I bought a new game. I was a completionist to the max and because there was zero chance of getting and doing everything in those RPGs without help, I always got the guide. It was always worth it, too, so shut up. You can call it cheating if you wish, but I wasn't about to miss the impossible. Younger gamers who are only familiar with newer adventures don't really know what I'm talking about, by the way. There were always several totally obscure things in those old-school RPGs you'd never know without assistance.

Anyway, I started flipping through the guide for Star Ocean: The 2nd Story and the memories just came flooding back. See, I probably spent a good 160 hours with that one (over 100 on one play-through, as I had to do the Cave of Trials and everything else, of course), and I remember it well. The interesting part, though, is that this was not only one of the best, but one of the most complete RPGs ever made. Those of you who are unfamiliar, here are the highlights:

-- Large world map with random encounters and multiple modes of transportation, very similar to Final Fantasy.

-- An innovative real-time/turn-based hybrid combat system that was very customizable. You could really set battles to play out however you wished, and you always had full control; you could issue commands and switch control between each character in your party.

-- Multiple characters to recruit. Not nearly as many as Suikoden, but recruiting some meant missing others, and getting a few meant going very much out of your way.

-- A Private Action system that would increase or decrease the personality traits of each character in your party. In other words, if you were in town and you had certain characters in your party, a particular PA might show up, after which the romantic or friendship number between the involved characters would rise or fall.

-- The latter had a direct impact on the possible endings; there were over 80 possible endings in all.

-- Two main characters essentially meant that you could play it through twice and it would be a little different; you'd see different scenes and even have access to different characters. Considering that it was basically a 60-hour game minimum, this put the replayability through the roof.

-- Massive amount of micromanagement depth through Alchemy, Blacksmith, Cooking, and seven other skills. Each character could level up in each discipline as well, and various raw materials were always required. This is one of the biggest reasons I got the guide...crazy deep.

-- An epic, emotional story that was heavy on dialogue, character development, and exploration, and with branching and recruitment possibilities, along with a ton of extra content (yeah, before DLC) that could keep you playing for many more hours.

Now, are we really missing anything here? If we were going to construct the greatest RPG ever, wouldn't we just use this list as a blueprint? Well, I would. In all honesty, I'd say Star Ocean: The 2nd Story was right up there with the PS1 FF entries as one of the very best RPGs in history.

Related Game(s): Star Ocean: The 2nd Story

Tags: star ocean 2, star ocean second story, star ocean the 2nd story, role playing games

6/28/2012 9:08:36 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (58 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, June 28, 2012 @ 9:48:38 PM
Reply

That's what I don't understand about the current gen. I know it's all action and very little character development these days but if fans enjoy intricate systems that customize the game and maximize replayability in these old games why on earth do modern "JRPG"s strip most of that away? You're telling me in this day and age I can't have a world map? Figure out how! It's the friggin Playstation 3 for God's sake.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, June 28, 2012 @ 10:44:00 PM

Ya, kinda odd that how as consoles have become more powerful the content and scope of RPGs seems to have diminished.

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SaiyanSempai
Thursday, June 28, 2012 @ 11:08:53 PM

Agreed World and LV!

Great article, Ben!

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Beamboom
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 5:57:39 AM

But most RPGs have a world map? Or do I completely misunderstand what you mean by the term?
Skyrim got a gigantic world map, well all the Bethesda games do, the Dragon Age games do, Amalur do, the Mass Effects even got a galaxy map :D

What RPG does not have a world map?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 9:35:03 AM

Almost all JRPGS this gen Beam. But Ni No Kuni appears to have one so that's gonna be sweet.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 10:07:40 AM

Heh...wow, I keep forgetting that "world map" doesn't mean to the uninitiated what it means to old-school RPG fans.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 6/29/2012 10:13:23 AM

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Highlander
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 1:45:19 PM

Ni No Kuni is coming from Namco/Level 5. Level 5 and their publishing partner D3 (a subsidiary of Namco) have provided a horribly poor service to customers that purchase Level 5's last game, White Knight chronicles 2, essentially abandoning consumers outside Japan. While there continues to be support for Japanese gamers with new quests and items, gamers outside Japan are getting none of that. Despite the majority of the material being on the game discs we already own. D3's answer is that the material isn't meant for outside Japan, which is a load of rubbish since it's already on the game discs. L5 is silent on the matter. D3 publisher is part of Namco. Namco is the publisher for Ni No Kuni. I won't be fooled again by this pair, I will no buy this game from them because I have to expect that just like their previous game partnership, they will abandon consumers outside Japan.

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Beamboom
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:08:49 PM

Haha well thanks a lot for not explaining to the uninitiated then, guys :D

What can possibly a "world map" mean other than a map... Of the world? White Knight Chronicles had a world map too, that's a jrpg. And even if the game doesn't have a world map, what's the big f'ing deal with'em maps? :D

Sorry to hear about that lack of support, Highlander. I know how much you love that game, that must be a real slap in the face to you and all other wkc fans.
What's the problem with distributing a downloadable unlock-file to *all* your customers? What's their explanation - if any?

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Comic Shaman
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:32:16 PM

Bean-

I haven't played White Knight, but let's take something like Skyrim as an example. What Skyrim has is one continuous world that you can look at a map of. And you can use the map for fast-travel, as most open-world maps allow you to do.

And that at first seems great. These worlds can seem really huge at first. Except at some point, you realize that you can run across an entire continent in under 30 minutes, and go from one climate zone to another in thirty steps, and easily run laps around a whole city. The continuous world of even a "big" game like Skyrim is a truly tiny place. Because the world shows you everything, nothing is left to the imagination... so you need to suspend a certain kind of disbelief to accept that the world is tiny.

A World Map (using caps to distinguish the classic RPG variant) makes the world seem like a much bigger place. You can't explore every nook and cranny, true... but that allows you to better maintain the illusion that you are in a world of vast spaces and infinite possibilities. Travel across the World Map is done by a kind of stylized representation of your character or vehicle. Locations become available as they are important to the story, and the implication is that there are many towns, cities, etc. in existence which are there in the world but are simply not part of your journey through it.

Now you could say, with some justification, that the old World Map was created because technology imposed limitations on how much of the world could be mapped out. Fact is, sometimes limitations are the driving force behind creativity.

As big and open as a game like Red Dead Redemption or Skyrim seems to be, these worlds always feel smaller to me than the worlds from the old Final Fantasy Games, Star Ocean, or Xenogears.

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Highlander
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:35:29 PM

The explanation is a lie. They say that the remaining content was not meant for consumers outside Japan. Except it's at least partially translated, and on the disk. There are DLC items that were at one point for sale in the EU store that were yanked without explanation. And gamers that have transferred their save file from Japan with supposedly Japanese exclusive gear, find that that 'exclusive' gear works just fine with the EU/NA games, and other players can see the gear so it's all on the disc, waiting to be unlocked.

D3 were terrible communicating with gamers that bought the game, in short they barely communicated with the exception of I think two articles on the PS blog one about the game launch and one about the guild system. Other than that, nothing except cryptic remarks through a facebook page. Level 5 has said *nothing* on the topic. It leaves a lot of JRPG fans feeling abandoned, or poorly treated. Many of the folks I know in WKC2 are very reluctant to consider buying Ni No Kuni. I won't, and I was really looking forward to it. Not any more.

The resolution to this is as simple as what you said though push an unlock file through the game server and unlock everything on the game disc. It would cost them nothing. They apparently have no interest in offering it through the PS Store. Why not regain some goodwill through a gesture to the PS3 JRPG community?

Honestly, it's really pathetic of both L5 and D3/Namco. But given Namco's somewhat spotty record with JRPGs for the PS3, I am hardly surprised.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:58:10 PM

Highlander I don't think Ni No Kuni is doing multiplayer unless I'm mistaken.

@Comic that was a good explanation. I would emphasize that the world map has a different set of rules than the classically traversible map so you have more variety of gameplay. The classic world map was how old Final Fantasy games gave us airships and the lack of a world map is how (since the PS2 days) we just have a menu of locations to choose from. It's the difference between a "world" and an "area" to play in.

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Highlander
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 5:14:33 PM

Whether or not it does, I am still extremely unhappy with L5 and their publisher(s). So I will not support them.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 6:41:15 PM

You could get it used, it would be a shame to miss it if it turns out as great as it looks.

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Beamboom
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 1:06:41 AM

Oh so it *does* mean simply a "world map". Then I don't understand the point of that comment from Ben, about the uninitiated...?

@World & Shaman:
The world map you guys describe there, with the actual, explorable parts being just segments of the total map, is really very common also outside the jrpg genre. Far more common than the Bethesda style continuous all accessible open world map of Elder Scrolls and Fallout.

World, you've played the Bioware RPGs: The Dragon Age games are very much like that? Even within the cities, it's not one big city ala GTA, it's a city map with locations ala "at the dock", "outside the mansion" and so forth. DA:O even got random attacks while travelling on the world map.
And it's the same in Mass Effect too. just paths within a larger area are actually explorable, there's never a fully open map. You can't explore entire planets, of course (although that'd be awesome).

So then I understand what is meant by "world map". It simply meant what I thought it meant. :D

Highlander:
But have they explained *why* it was not meant for consumers outside Japan? It would just be so interesting to hear how a commercial company came to that conclusion. What the reason could possibly be.
Just to get an insight into how they were reasoning.

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Underdog15
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 9:21:33 AM

Something like Dragon Age 2 is just a menu of locations provided on what looks like a map you might hold up in front of you.

You don't run around on it, find things, use various modes of transportation on it that you control, and it isn't a 3D world you run around on.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 9:41:44 AM

Beamboom isn't going to get this, I don't think. It's something you have to see.

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Beamboom
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 10:02:47 AM

Why are you being so patronizing about it, Ben? If someone walked up to me and asked me about something I'm really interested in, I'd be more than happy to explain, and not just give him an attitude, "wow - you really are clueless, aren't you? Now sod off and stop wasting my time".

If I am *explained* it then I might actually understand. But so far what I've been described is a plain old map.
It's ok if you don't want to explain anything, no-one is forcing you, but you don't need to be so snobbish about it?

@Underdog: Thank you! You are right, what I think of are maps that you could hold up in front of you.
So the map itself is interactive, much like a playing level in itself? Well then! Then I actually - *gasp* - might understand what you guys talk about, and also why you miss it.

I thought it was kinda strange with all this talk about a "world map" if all we were talking about were a basic map to fast travel from one location to another. :D

Last edited by Beamboom on 6/30/2012 11:23:28 AM

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, June 28, 2012 @ 10:43:28 PM
Reply

Great article. I used to love playing my RPGs without a guide then having a 2nd playthrough with the guide I had bought. I've kept them all and have quite a few since back then there was no internet or gamefaqs.

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Mystearica
Thursday, June 28, 2012 @ 11:04:47 PM
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Like some producer said "Americans rely on Technology and the Japanese on art". Considering the the new generation today and all the technology they have at their hands (aka the 8 year old with the iPhone) - now everyone is relying on technology. Graphics, graphics and more graphics. I can't seem to recall a single PS3 game that is superior "artfully" than the PS2 <<<< PS1. The older consoles relied on great story telling, character development, fantastic music to set the mood/pace etc. It's crazy, but I'm seriously missing Nobou, Matsumoto etc's music. I remember a time when I thought Nobou's music was repetitive... bleh

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kraygen
Thursday, June 28, 2012 @ 11:15:47 PM
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I wish they'd make the psp version compatible with vita because I've played the first, but not the second star ocean and it sounds like I would like the second one more than the first.

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Highlander
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 1:58:13 PM

There's nothing much for them to do to make things compatible, they are running unmodified in an emulation. The Emulator has to be given the application serial number/check sum on it's white list, and PS Store has to have it set to be able to DL to Vita. There really shouldn't be a lot more to it, except for Sony making sure that it's not subject to any of the known security exploits of course.

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MrAnonymity
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 1:47:26 AM
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Before I start, I am totally not a Star Ocean fanboy. At all. Period.

This is the article I've been waiting for. Star Ocean: The Second Story is the first RPG I ever beat from start to finish. I probably knew about the game for at least a whole year before I even got a chance to play it. In fact, the advertisement for it was, even by today's standards, one of the best I had ever seen. The ad in question was in a Wizard magazine - just inside the cover, to be exact - and the first thing to catch my eye was a form on the right to either stop mail delivery or forward it or something. On the left detailed a game I absolutely had to play, highlighting "the ability to create your own items in the field" and "characters that fly into anger over a fallen comrade." Drawing attention to the form on the right was a line saying something to the effect of going on a journey that will take a while. (I have searched tirelessly for the ad, but cannot find it ANYWHERE!)

As I stated, it was sometime after having seen said ad that I actually played the game and when I did... I was hooked. Everything about the game - for me - was a mind-blowing experience. Characters, battle system, 2D-on-3D graphics, item creation... the list went on. I love me some Final Fantasy... but that series is second to Star Ocean in my book.

That being said... Great article, Ben!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 10:13:02 AM

Well, no, I can't say SO is second to FF because in my opinion, Star Ocean only achieved historic excellence once.

Final Fantasy used to do it with every new installment. :)

But I'm glad you loved SO2 as much as I did.

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CrusaderForever
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 1:52:35 AM
Reply

Gameplay, story, control, sound and graphics....why can't we just demand them all. All I hear about is how these old classics are king and the new more graphically superior gen games have the graphics but no substance. Why?

There are many moving parts to a games direction. The people making the beautiful graphics aren't in charge of the story or gameplay or control. Many developers are suffering from creative block. A new idea is needed now more than ever. We have the power and soon will have even more power to strive for realism. There is nothing wrong with that and we should embrace it! What we need is for all parts to come together now and in the not to distant future.

It's great to look back and having history educates the future. Someone, a developer with some say needs to look back at what made games great. They need to make a game for the right reasons and how much money it will make is not the right reason. Do you think ThatGameCompany worries about how much money Journey was going to make? NO! They made a game based on what they believed in. They had a vision and it was to create something, to bring life to an idea they had. I applaud them. The Activisions and EAs are lost, adrift. Ubisoft isn't yet....

Some day it will happen. We are seeing signs but haven't been knocked off our feet in a long time by a truly outstanding 10 of a RPG. Hopefully the developers can find what they are missing. Maybe ThatGameCompany has already influenced a developer yet unseen. It's to bad money is our only true God.

Last edited by CrusaderForever on 6/29/2012 1:54:14 AM

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Vivi_Gamer
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 2:17:20 AM
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I haven't played this game unfortunately, it's something of a rarity in the UK. I played the 3rd title for a good 40 hours, but later on the enemies started to cheat which put me off. They started attacking my MP, when you reach Zero MP your character is dead... To me this is more stupid than the party leader dying in XIII for a game over. It ruined it ruined the game completely for me, which is a shames as I was having a blast with it.

as for this game, the only thing that really puts me off is the multiple endings, I don't want to play through an RPG only to get a rubbish ending, it also makes the majority feel unauthentic, I would want to strive for the one true ending (Like in X-2 - try doing that without a guide...) - But it is definitely a game I'd like to try out, does the PSP port capture the spirit of the original?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 9:36:06 AM

I had to cheat to beat SO3, it was getting way too cheap on me so I felt justified. SO4 I beat fair and balanced.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 10:08:30 AM

No Star Ocean after The 2nd Story even comes close to that level of epic quality, unfortunately.

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xenris
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 10:32:08 AM

How did you cheat to beat it? I don't remember it being that hard, but maybe its been a while. I do remember the ending being a complete mind trip though.

Do you think SO4 is easier? I haven't played it because I heard the save system is horrendous. What say you?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 11:20:30 AM

I used Action Replay on SO3. It was just too friggin impossible to survive for me.

SO4 was much easier, the battles were more reasonably spaced (instead of every 4 seconds) and I have no clue what anyone could have wrong with the saving system. It's the same old JRPG style as always where you find a save point and save. If you're way out in the field it might be a journey to get to one but that's part of the fun.

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Comic Shaman
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:18:47 PM

Ultimadream-

Regarding the multiple endings, I don't think there were any "rubbish" endings to Star Ocean 2. It was more a matter of the way that different characters interacted during the game which dictated who did what after the story ended.

To me, it made the ending experience much more personal. I didn't have the patience to play through again and again to get all the combinations (did anybody? I mean... 80 possibilities. Yow), so I can see how that might feel incomplete to some people. Still, I remember Star Ocean as having one of the better multiple-ending implementations... much more so than many of the games today that make "player choice" such a selling point.

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xenris
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:19:08 PM

Sounds good. Yeah I beat SO3 legitimately but thinking back I might have used a guide for some fights I dunno.

I just remember hearing that SO4s save points were disgustingly spread out. But if its not that bad then I will be alright. I got spoiled by Xenoblades save anywhere feature.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 4:01:12 PM

I don't think any classic JRPG fan would complain about the spacing of the save points but save anywhere is popular now so I can see how some might be upset. It's not like you can't run from enemy encounters if you're limping toward a save point :)

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Ludakriss
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:57:54 AM
Reply

Such a genuine smile on my face right now. Discription of the game is beautiful. So rich.

You must understand, I never played this game, Ben. But I do like any game that would be discribed as what you have in this article.

Does that mean I'm basically getting an emulator of PS1 and gettin some Star Ocean on?

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Rogueagent01
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 4:08:09 AM

If you have a PSP you can just play it on there, it is called Star Ocean: Second Evolution. I haven't layed through that much of it on the PSP but it seems like it is the same exact game, please if I am wrong someone correct me.

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MrAnonymity
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 4:34:04 AM

Though it went through some substantial changes, Second Evolution is still The Second Story.

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Rogueagent01
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 4:03:30 AM
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This is still hands down my favorite RPG of all time, followed by Persona, then FF VIII .

Hey Ben have you ever watched the Star Ocean EX anime? It is based off of the game and is really, REALLY close to the game. The only drawback is they did not finish the Anime. So many things in the Anime will remind you of the decisions you made in the game.

I loved how you had the old woman in the one port city that if you talked to her you were able to get the ridiculously hard difficulty, but you had to do it when you met her since the city was destroyed once you left. The Cave Of Trials...ahh that was magnificent. I loved the level(I believe it was the 5th) where everything was blacked out, I thought my TV broke when I first got in there. I put probably around 1,000 hours into that game easily, what with the multiple playthroughs and the 256 level cap. The Iron Chef cooking contest was so fun too, especially trying to get all your characters to win it. Those end bosses on the truely hard difficulty were still some of the best boss fights to this day, what was it the Ten Wise Men, or was it Twelve? I tried to beat them around level 100 and got my a** whooped, man that game was great.

Your damn right that this game could and should be the base blueprint for any RPG made. Obviously I don't want the exact same game, but there are countless concepts that developers should take from this game.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 9:38:01 AM

I'll have to look into that anime, I've only seen one episode of Xenosaga and I'm kind of torn.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 10:09:09 AM

Sorry, no matter how much I love Star Ocean, I will always be completely indifferent when it comes to anime. :)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 10:11:28 AM

P.S. The last boss in the Cave of Trials was Indalecio Celesta, and I won that with character levels between 160 and 170. :) I did the Iron Chef thing but only with one character (that was enough for completion for me), and then there was the 100-battle fight in the Arena, which I eventually did with with Claude.

Pretty sure he was close to Lv. 180 when I did.

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Comic Shaman
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:09:31 PM

Strangely enough, some of my strongest memories of this game were about the cooking minigame. Many of the plot points have become fuzzy over time, but for some reason I still have sharp memories of the strange, visceral joy I felt when cooking up confections from rare ingredients that were both delicious and useful. Restoratives have never sounded so sumptuous.

Loved the game, and thanks for the flashback article, Ben. Now I'm hungry.

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Rogueagent01
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 6:53:01 PM

The anime is awesome and I am not a huge anime fan myself, though I used the word based that is really the wrong word. It is the game just in anime form. It is a little weird watching it since some parts can seem different if you didn't make those choices in the game itself. I keep looking for it in the shops around here, but I think I will just have to buy it online eventually. I watched it a few years after I played the game and it made me put the game in again and do another playthrough, lol. If you were a fan of the game I would suggest at least watching one or two episodes to see what it is like, and then if your not interested stop watching. Especially since they didn't finish it, what an injustice that was.

Wow...I forgot about the Arena, those were still some of the toughest fights I can remember in gaming(if you weren't over leveled). Like Shaman said a lot of the game is fuzzy now and yet I still know why I love it as much as I do.

I think I have bought a handful of games since then hoping one could recreate the cooking competition, but sadly none have come close:( It was really hard to beat the competition with all the characters since some of them did not have the cooking talent, that is what made it so fun for me. And just running up to the pile of food and grabbing as much as you could without wasting to much time, boy that was balanced to perfection.

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telly
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 9:47:51 AM
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Those games are so DIFFERENT from everything that's out now, and I mean that in the absolute best way. The art style, the insane depth, the unapologetically dense story, the music. I remember those days well when NOT buying the strategy guide was just not an option. It pissed me off at the time -- the whole thing felt like a racket between the game companies and the official strategy guide companies. But I kind of miss that stuff now -- it was almost like going on a quest guided by ancient treasure maps, y'know? There were details and clues and oftentimes gorgeous maps and artwork included. It added to the experience tremendously, and like an old treasure hunter or world explorer, it made perfect sense that you would have some sort of research by your side to help you with your quest.

I have my old Chrono Cross game sitting on my living room shelf, in the "to play" pile of games. I want to start one so bad, but debating whether I should just download it off of PSN so I can play it on my PSP too. I'm feeling nostalgic for the great PS1 JRPGs these days, that's for sure.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 10:09:48 AM
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I hope people who are unfamiliar with the way RPGs used to be are reading these comments. I really do.

Not that it will change anything these days, but at least SOME people understand.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 11:21:49 AM

You know a JRPG fan cuz of the dreamy lookin their eye when you mention great stuff that's gone now.

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Highlander
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 2:18:34 PM

I think the problem Ben, is that the essence of what made a classic JRPG special is really quite intangible. Most gamers today don't really have reference points to understand that essence, even if you find a way to put it in words. To me, that essence is a combination of art style, story, character, plot, system, everything. Perhaps mood is a better word than essence? What I mean is that modern action RPGs and western RPGs all have an utterly different mood to JRPGs. They are so far removed from each other that they almost should not be in related genre.

It's the fact that JRPGs stories could be so very epic, and yet at the same time examine the minutia of side story, a peripheral character, events not related directly to the progress of the story. There was always an urgency in the story, yet the game system would allow you to explore and go back to do things before proceeding to the next objective.

I don't really have the words today, it's been a very long week, but the work whimsy comes to mind. There is a sense of whimsy that pervades JRPGs fro the art style to the characters and story. Somehow despite dealing with potentially world shattering issues, there remains a lighter air, a whimsy, among the characters.

In some ways I think that reflects a very Japanese trait. If you look at Japan, it's an Island nation that is continually under threat from Volcanic eruption, massive storm systems, huge earthquakes and Tsunami. People there hold their heads high and carry on despite the tragedies of life. They continue to have a positive outlook and move on. Perhaps it's also the Shinto or Buddhist philosophies that are interwoven into Japanese culture?

All I know is that there is a mood, or 'feel' to JRPGs that is simply not present in RPGs from the west. Even when western Developers ape the style of the JRPG, they do not quite make it because their art, story and characters are lacking that essence.

I also don't know how you explain to gamers that think RPGs have to be open world games where the story is driven by the player and is not predetermined. How do you explain a genre that features much heavier and structured story and characters to people who think that RPGs should have unstructured stories and custom characters? There is a culture gap there that I don't know how to bridge.

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Beamboom
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 1:08:45 AM

I don't think the uninitiated will ever understand.
They'll never be old-school like the real RPG fans.

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Underdog15
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 9:25:51 AM

Probably not, Beamboom. Not when their so narrow minded. What I've read in this thread of people who don't get it, don't seem to want to get it, or literally straight up have absolutely zero clue.

At least while the jRPG fans crave the days of old, they can still appreciate other games we get now that are excellent. The uninitiated can't even appreciate anything outside their comfort zone!

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Beamboom
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 10:12:00 AM

Underdog: Yeah I know! Them damn noob fools. They are not only narrow minded, they are straight up unable to learn! I wish they'd stop bothering us.

(you're kidding, right? I see no hate or ignorance from anyone at all here on this page?)

Last edited by Beamboom on 6/30/2012 10:42:20 AM

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Excelsior1
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 1:59:00 PM
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Spolier Alert.

Star Ocean the second story was the first JRPG I ever beat. A lot of great memories. Claude arrives on the planet right around the same time a meteor crashed into a the planet and monsters started appearing. He's called the hero of light probably because he has a phase gun and saves Rena. I distinctly remember Rena going off on her own at one point. :( Wait! I thought she liked me. Anyways, she manages to get herself kidnapped and we were reunited when I rescued her. :)

Another memory that stands out is watching the planet get destroyed. Somehow by defeating the Ten Wise Men it restores the planet. If I remember correctly the Ten Whise Men were once exiled so they created some kind of energy field to try escape from their exile. That field destroys the planet and if they had escaped the intended to destroy the universe.

I put hundreds of hours into this very deep game. Ashton was a great character and very powerful. Anyways, I loved this game even more than FF7, FF8, and Legend of the Dragoon and those JRPG's were no slouches obviously. Great story, production values, and musical score. Lots of games had world maps but what made Star Ocean really stand out was the crafting system and awesome battle system. I would rate Star Ocean the scond story as my third favorite JRPG. FF10 is favorite followed by The Lost Odyssey.

Great article Ben that brought up a lot of great memories. This was great JRPG to single out for an article.

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sirbob6
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:22:20 PM
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OT, but I'm really curious how many thumb downs someone would get if they bashed FF7 or even said it isn't that great of a game...


...have mercy on my soul, I like the game, I promise

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 4:03:01 PM

Oh there's plenty of haters who hate just because they weren't on the scene back then.

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Beamboom
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 6:58:57 AM

... I guess you got at least one thumb down to count right there, sirbob6. :)

I'm curious about the same. I think it would be a new record around here. Would almost be fun to watch. :D


Last edited by Beamboom on 6/30/2012 6:59:26 AM

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Underdog15
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 9:28:43 AM

Nah, there's tons of 30+ year old purists who will say FFVI is the better game out of what I'm pretty sure is just people liking to sound like they're somehow more in the know just because they don't like what everyone else liked.

Just like today's most popular games have haters, yesterday's most popular games (FF7 in this instance) also have lots of haters. And just like today's haters, yesteryear's haters secretly loved it, too.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 6/30/2012 9:29:15 AM

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Beamboom
Sunday, July 01, 2012 @ 8:36:20 AM

But there's a difference between thinking that another FF is the better game, and *bashing* FF7.

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Warrior Poet
Friday, June 29, 2012 @ 3:31:40 PM
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I didn't play this back in the day, but I love it on PSP. If you haven't played it yet, go for that version. It has widescreen display and far superior voice acting. Either way you gotta love it. People have gone on and on about why it's great, and I only have one thing to add: A respectable male protagonist! He wasn't girly, spineless, stupid or depressed. While he was a fish out of water, Claude always kept a cool head, treated his elders and peers with respect, and made intelligent moral decisions. That's rare in any game, but it's especially rare in RPGs. I really enjoyed playing as a guy I could actually relate to, so for me, Claude is what made SO2 special.

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saintaqua
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 9:35:33 PM
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I want these games on Vita. Why is SquareEnix such a butt when it comes to adding games to the PSN?

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stevev363
Monday, July 02, 2012 @ 5:06:55 PM
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Star Ocean 1 and 2 are my all time favorite RPG's, the last one is crap compared to the first 2 and I disliked it so much I refused to even finish it. I have replayed both fully at least 5 times and never get tired of them, my guide books have seen better days but at this point I hardly need to pull them out. I wish SE stuck with the same style instead of omitting features. 8(

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Banky A
Friday, November 22, 2013 @ 3:51:39 PM
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This needs a BUMP Ben.

I just felt Star Ocean 2 withdrawals.
One thing I disagree with you guys on is SO3 - I absolutely loved that game. I think I put way more hours into it. 2 and 3 are some of my defining RPGs and made me see tri-ace WERE an immense team.

SO2 will always be supreme though, it just had everything and great Private Actions.

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