22 February 2004 | Lucasta
A harmony of vigor and life, plagued by an unopening crowd.
Star Ocean: the Second Story, is an amazing story of a boy named Claude, an alien from the Earth Federation, and a girl named Rena, a small-town teenager from Expel, starting a trek to gaze upon a meteor struck a year ago. The oddity coincided with mutations in normally tame beasts, natural disasters, prophets foretelling death and guests along the way that are either cursed with fate or blessed with knowledge. But the deeper they go into the continent of ash and stone, darker intentions from corrupt men weave dissonance into a peaceful melody.
Star Ocean, released in 1996 for Super Famicon, was a smash hit in Japan- marking another cult hit in Enix's belt. But typical of the company, and their associated firm Tri-Ace, the game went almost completely unnoticed in the rest of the world; mostly due to the fact that it was never released in North America or Europe. Enix's competitor, Squaresoft, which hadn't done that well in Japan, was tearing up North American and European markets with games like Einhander, the Final Fantasy series and Parasite Eve. Enix needed a breakthrough game, the marginally successful Dragon Warrior wasn't doing it, so when the sequel for Star Ocean came around Enix banked on the idea that America would give two thumbs up.
So~so press, Squaresoft's blockbusters FF: Tactics and Final Fantasy Seven were too much, and the US was awaiting Suikoden 2 created a game's opening that went largely unnoticed, despite a loyal cult following. Of course in Japan there were standing ovations, a TV show and multiple comic strips. But here in America, a welcoming so poor and pathetic was given that Enix has rarely released any games of that nature again. And only now that it has joined with Squaresoft has it opened up again.
But the game is good. Real good. The background graphics are at a pinnacle for their time, the unfortunate exception to this department is the laughable 16-bit sprites used. Character's lives are quite developed, the scope of the game is tremendous and, in my opinion, edging out Final Fantasy Seven by a sliver, the story-line although a bit cliched and stereotypical, isn't too predictable- and the cliches used are actually very enjoyable. The music is astounding, but the best part is the unbelievably addictive battle form of real-time. It's what hooked nearly all of the fans, including myself. I give this a 9.7/10, and a must buy for all.