Star Ocean: The Second Story

Star Ocean: The Second Story
Star Ocean: The Second Story Cover
Platform PlayStation
Genre Colorful Reading Game ... RPG
MtAMinutes to Action 56
Score 1  Clock score of 1Gameplay: 2
Fun Factor: 1
Gfx/Sound: 8
Story: 3
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Star Ocean: The Second Story is an action RPG for the original PlayStation. The game allows the player to make many choices along the way, from what characters will be in your party to how difficult the secret final boss will be. Star Ocean is known for its fun and varied gameplay and its absolutely atrocious, but hilarious voice acting. It was released in the United States back in 1999 but since the first Star Ocean was never released outside of Japan, I'm not really sure how Enix expected it to performed. The game follows the story of two intergalactic strangers and their impact on the future of multiple planets. Let's get into the beginning of that story, as Star Ocean: The Second Story's first hour is about to begin.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the hour begins. First up I have to select my sound system, stereo I suppose. Vibration on. Next I have to select my character, either the blonde Claude Kenni or the blue haired Rena Lanford. It's time to mix things up, I choose Rena.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Info

01 - Battle mode set to Standard, have to hold the square button to move around in combat. Interesting. A cutscene starts, we're zooming in on a lush, green planet. Lightning crackles as what looks like a worm hole appears above a forest. Hey, there's a village in the distance, and it's not on fire, yet.

03 - I'm now looking at the in-game graphics. Rena, our heroine, runs out of a house with her mom chasing after her. The graphics seem really zoomed out, everyone seems tiny.

04 - They're still talking, something about the Sorcery Globe landing and causing weird stuff. An earthquake has recently hit and is causing animals to become violent. Rena runs off anyway. Rena's mother gets a [...] dialogue box above her head.

05 - I now have control over Rena and I open a few treasure chests near her. Some armor, 200 Fol (money), and a resurrection bottle. Oh sweet, my equipment was updated automatically when I grabbed the armor.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Arlia Village

06 - Some birds fly overhead in a pretty cool effect. Everyone in this town has funny looking hair. I try to leave the village but Rena tells me that's not the way to Shingo Forest.

07 - I head out the south exit and the camera changes view, it's not almost horizontal with the ground. I save my game at the purple save point.

08 - Rena is now in the forest, no world map necessary.

09 - I just got ambushed by a giant ape! Luckily Claude arrived and was able to save me. He got to fight in a battle but since he's not my main character, I didn't get to do anything. Lame. Rena doesn't understand how Claude killed the ape (he used a laser gun). And his clothes are weird too.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Claude Ape Battle

11 - Rena runs off and then waits for Claude, he catches up a moment later and they talk about running away from each other. I like the different camera views we get in this game. The sprites look good against the static backgrounds.

12 - The music so far has been pretty typical of an RPG. But Claude was talking during the battle, forgot to mention that before. The two officially introduce each other and Rena starts sweating. Claude doesn't know where he is.

13 - They're walking back to the village together, Claude explains he's from Earth. Rena has never heard of "Urth." Haha. Rena calls her village Arlia.

15 - After some more chatting, we enter Arlia to chat some more. There sure are a lot of [...] emoticon moments. Claude asks to be shown around.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Claude

16 - We enter the church. Rena talks for a moment, I hope there aren't many buildings here. I guide the pair over to Rena's house but Rena says she has to clean up first. Sounds like fun.

17 - Rena tells her mom that The Warrior has arrived and has come to save them. She says he had a Sword of Light, which was his laser gun.

19 - Claude entered the house but Rena told him to get out again. Blah blah blah, just get on with it! Maybe I should have been Claude, at least I would have been able to fight. Right after Claude leaves Rena's mom tells me to invite him back in. Now I have to go find Cloud, I mean Claude, again.

21 - Haven't found Claude yet. But I did steal some Strawberry Jam from a chest in some kids' house.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Reflection

23 - Still haven't located the loser, even though I think I've looked in every building. Oh neat, reflections in the water.

24 - Lame, I had to leave the second village area, and then come back again. There he is just wandering around. I run back to Rena's house. Wow, Rena's mom made a feast while we were gone. But I'd rather fight a monster right now than eat.

26 - One hour later... our heroes are bushed and ready for bed. But not together.

27 - Time to tell the mayor what's happening, his name is Regis. They talk about The Warrior and the Sword of Light for a minute.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Claude Regis

29 - I bring the mayor back to Rena's house. Oh no, Rena's mom has told Claude about The Warrior.

30 - Claude and Regis talk at the kitchen table. There sure is a heck of a lot of talking in this game.

32 - Since Claude won't fess up to being The Warrior of Light, the townsfolk think this might be a case of mistaken identity. I really have no idea though.

33 - The screen switches to a view of outer space and Regis tells Claude the news of a meteorite hitting a town and causing crazy stuff to happen. Much violence and demonizing ensued. They call the meteorite, The Sorcery Globe. Quite the odd name.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Sorcery Globe Impact

36 - More [...] emoticons. Regis decides Claude is not The Warrior. Rena doesn't like that idea. She walks out of the house. Oh, that means I've walked out of the house.

37 - I'm now in Rena's room, I raid her treasure chest. I get a Blackberry! Wonder if I get a connection way out here. I take Rena to the mayor's house to look for Claude, he's upstairs but the mayor won't let me up there.

39 - With no where else to go I head to the forest. Back at the scene of the ape crime, Rena asks her father what she should do. Her father?

40 - A sepia-toned flashback! Rena is in her room and wanders out into the hallway. She can hear Regis and her mom talking about the death of her father.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Claude Emoticon

42 - Turns out Rena is not really anyone's daughter... The game returns to the forest where Claude approaches. [...]

44 - Wow, this is boring. Rena asks Claude to leave again after they talk about him not being The Warrior.

45 - Running back to the village, Rena encounters Alen, a mysterious man with a red cape. Woah, Alen is ready to marry Rena!

47 - The preparations are complete for their marriage ceremony! Rena has no idea what's going on though. Some guards approach and the music beat tempos up.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Alen Marriage

48 - Sounds like Alen might be under the influence of the evil Sorcery Globe. The village gathers where Alen announces his master plan and demands the old people to let him through with Rena. More [...] emoticons.

50 - Heh, we're now in Alen's bedroom. He tells Rena not to try and escape, but of course, we will. I regain control after about five minutes.

52 - That's weird, I'm allowed to run around the house as much as I want. The front door is locked though. Rena enters a room and mutters, "there must be a way out." This is my key out of here, folks! A statue glistens.

53 - Wow, let's make it more obvious. The statue moves a bookcase revealing some stairs down. I am in the Silva Drift, looks like some underground caves.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Bossman

54 - There's a guy lying on the ground, it's Mr. Bossman! He describes Alen's crazy moods and that I must escape quickly.

55 - I save and head deeper into the cave.

56 - Oh my gosh. Fixty-six minutes into the game I get into my first battle. And it's against two giant rabbits! I take them down with my punches! Pretty sweet!

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Rabbit Battle

57 - Next I take out three guys with swords with my fists of fury! Battles are random encounters, so beware if you don't like that.

59 - It's easy to miss these rabbits as they hop around and the battles are real time enough that you have to time things correctly. I find a sign that says, "Danger! To Dragon's Nest!" Awesome. Oh, but she won't go any further. Lame.

60 - Just fought five sword guards, all they did was wander around the battlefield as I picked them off one by one. Well, that's the end of the first hour of Star Ocean: The Second Story.

Now for some scores out of 10.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Rena Wins

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 56

Gameplay: 2
Star Ocean 2 has the action on the wrong side of the first hour. RPGs like Final Fantasy VII and even Skies of Arcadia throw you into the action first, and then let it cool down as the plot is introduced. Maybe if I had played as Claude I would have felt a little bit more satisfaction, but one battle does not an action packed first hour make. There's a whole lot of pressing X to progress the text box, and you can't even walk around on your own very much. The only battles I fought were so fast-paced and short I know I didn't experience everything they have to offer. This is a disappointment.

Fun Factor: 1
Not fun at all. I don't know what else to say. There's essentially no redeemdable value in Star Ocean: The Second Story's first hour.

Graphics and Sound: 8
I really liked the look of this game. The graphics were lush, lots of greenery and bright colors in and around the village. The environments became a little drab when I reached the cave but the textures were still very well done. The characters sprites looked awesome and the accompanying animations were excellent. There were even some really cool particle effects during battle, if only I was able to see more of them. I didn't hear much music besides the game's village theme and the battle music, but what I heard was good enough. And Star Ocean's classic voice acting makes its debut, but since they're only utilized during battle, I once again didn't get to hear much.

Story: 3
Star Ocean: The Second Story's first hour is simply overrun with story. And sadly, while this tale has its moments, it's dragged along at such a slow pace it is nearly unbearable. Star Ocean is trying to introduce way too much too early and the characters, especially Rena, were injected with way too much emotion that doesn't work in video games. She's constantly running away from the situation, slowing the introduction of the massive plot to a snail's pace. And while the wall of text is more than I can handle, the emoticons such as [...] that slowly appear over the characters' heads is the last straw. Just give me the basics and let's move on with the game. Story elements can be told along the way.

Overall: 1
Well, Star Ocean has achieved a first hour score lower than any other game I have ever reviewed. Through a sheer combination of almost no gameplay, nearly zero fun, and the game almost taking its one and only hour to get to anything that even remotely resembles excitement, we have a score of one. Maybe one day I will discover a game that actually has a worse first hour and give it a zero, but right now, Star Ocean: The Second Story is the lowest of the low. I will admit, I have beaten this game before and enjoyed it immensely, but this is simply not how you start out a game. Let this be a warning to all game writers out there.

Star Ocean 2 Second Story Character Art

Comments

and since when did people

and since when did people only play games for an hour? yes the beginning is slow but are we really reviewing a game based off of one hour of gameplay? there is so much wrong with that concept, I can't even believe people haven't mentioned how ridiculous it is. Play the damn game, get into it, it gets better. finish it and THEN, maybe you can give it a review?

so hilarious how reviews have become about the first hour of gameplay. final fantasy 7's first 5 hours are boring as hell, stuck in midgar, it's when you get out and begin to see the complexities of the characters and stories that it became such a great game and the same goes for star ocean or any other great RPGs for that matter.

I do agree with what you have to say about the first hour, but damn man, play the game!!! HOW CAN YOU REVIEW A GAME AND GIVE IT A SCORE BASED OFF OF 60 MINUTES !!!???? lol this is kind of absurd.

just crapping.....

LOL if you think of battle as the starting of a game try thousand arms for a slow start! It dosen't get any battle till....errr a long long time! and even the first few battle(the one at the caves) is not much excitement....then you have to go to story again.....however i do not think the first hour is boring...because there are a lot of silly jokes that makes the game exciting....ARE YOU LIKE ME!? I am the kind of rpg gamers that TALK TO EVERYONE and GET ALL TREASURE CHEST...this makes me HATE battles so.....i like this kind of slow start rather than a battle right of the bat.....(and i am also the kind who over lvl alot so i really think battles are repetive and disklike them==) the only battles i love is BOSSS battles(they are the reason i train so hard for so duh==) errr so my point is i love star ocean even the begining part.... because i talk to everyone(ya i kno,no life) and that makes things even more intresting(and longer too)....i mean, don't you think these progammers are poor? putting so many people in the game and have to make them all talk?==so i talk to them all(and also pick pocket them all)...err my comment sucks==nvm still gonna post....

I love Star Ocean 2, but you're completely right

I bought Star Ocean 2 from a used game store on a whim, several years ago, and after the first couple hours of play I very nearly put it down and never picked it back up again. Something made me give it another shot, and once I got a bit further in, I just absolutely in love with it.

But I cannot at all disagree with your assessment of the first hour. So slow! So weak! It's the game's worst flaw that it starts so poorly. How many players who would have become loyal fans were just driven away?

So while I do feel this highlights a failing in Star Ocean 2, I have to say I think it also highlights a failing in the concept of the first hour review. Yes, it's important for games to hook the player early, but not all the ones that fail to do so are irredeemable. Similarly, if we had first five minute film reviews, I'm sure a lot of great films would get utterly slammed.

Don't know how many of these you've done - I just landed here while looking for some Star Ocean images. But honestly I think it's a weird idea.

Plan to replay using Claude

I would agree that this review does highlight flaws in the old review style: are numerical scores given for the first hour supposed to reflect on the entire game? Is it a guess, an estimation on what the next 50 hours will be like? I never really could answer that, and have since dropped the scores. Now it really boils down to one question: Would I keep playing this game?

If I had answered that question when I wrote this review, I would have said no. But somehow, years ago, I beat this game and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've been trying to understand the disconnect there, and I think for a game like Star Ocean 2, it comes down to the player character.

Rena is boring! Especially at first where she's just some village girl. Whenever I played beforehand, I always played as Claude, he's a space traveler, carries a gun, and is stuck in this remote village against his own will. His story is so much more interesting.

So for the past couple of months, I've been debating on whether I want to replay the first hour of Star Ocean 2 or not with Claude. Chances are most people new to the game would choose him, so it would have made sense for me to select him too. I think now I will go back and replay SO2 using Claude and under the new review style. Look for it in early 2010.

Yeah, but no :(

I have played through SO2 a number of times with both characters and am well versed with the sheer amount of text packed into the first hour. I am a bit disappointed with the score you gave albeit for the first hour. I am aware that you have played and enjoyed the game too (your comment on SO2 vs. FF7 was decisive) yet be aware that some people do look at the numbers first. Maybe it wasn't wise to review the first hour for this - you knew yourself the pain endured :|

I am always glad when I get out of the Alen story - a feeling of 'and now, the game begins' comes over me! Compare the sheer amount of character development at the start to the complete lack of overall party consistency on Nede. All the other characters (Claude and Rena excluded) become mere props with one-liners. Shame, that. That doesn't detract too much from what is an excellent game - nothing like Claude, Opera, Chisato and Precis (Bowman IS great, but Explosion Pills gets hard to listen to...)!

No more scores

Thanks for being civil! This was one of the reviews that spurred me to drop the scores altogether for first hour reviews, it's a great decision in my opinion, and this game will stand as a testament to that. The score is definitely something people are immediately drawn to, which is unfortunate, but inevitable. Thanks for the input!

The first hour is incredibly

The first hour is incredibly boring, especially when you replay the game. And Claude's perspective is no better than Rena's. It makes no difference at all in that regard, or if anything his might actually be worse. However, once you do gain control and have freedom it's a fabulous game, worth the horrible first hour of text. Judging games by the first hour is just as terrible, since most rpgs don't really get anywhere until 1- 1 /2 hours into the initial start.

I think maybe you should

I think maybe you should write reviews about games you actually like. Instead of bashing games when there might be lots of people out there that love them. Like me for instance. If you don't have anything good to say about a game. DON'T REVIEW IT AT ALL. After all. How fun a game is. IS your opinion. Star Ocean 2 was way ahead of it's time. And certainly more fun than FFVII. So don't you ever .. talk bad about my favorite game of all time. Ever again.

Seriously?

"I think maybe you should write reviews about games you actually like.
[...]
If you don't have anything good to say about a game. DON'T REVIEW IT AT ALL."

For real? Doesn't having a restriction like that kind of defeat the point of reviewing anything? If someone dislikes something, knowing that (and more importantly why they don't) is just as important as what they do like about it. The entire purpose of most reviews is to let you know people's opinions, whether they're positive or negative, so you can decide whether or not it interests you, not to just sit around and talk about how awesome things you like are while ignoring the rest. The more you know about something, the better a decision you can make about whether it'll be worth your time. Even if he has the exact opposite opinion on games from how you feel about them, that's useful, because you can go look for the ones he liked and avoid them and go play the ones he hated instead.

Sorry I made fun of your

Sorry I made fun of your precious game, it happens.

I personally think Star Ocean 2 as a whole is a better game than FF7. It tears it into pieces if I may use Claude's famous line. But the first hour sucks. I suppose if I had played as Claude to start out with things might have gone better though, I will admit that.

really?

"Sorry I made fun of your precious game." Really? What a juvenile comment. Seriously Greg are you 13? You sound like a kid talking to his little sister about destroying a toy or something. Sure the first hour of this game is boring, but reading your minute-by-minute commentary on a boring game is...well, boring.
You would save yourself and everyone else some time if you just do not review games in this way, or simply avoid reviewing boring games. Because of this childish reply to the last poster, this is the last time I'll be reading any of your reviews, and just think hard about it for a second, for my 1 comment, there's probably 100 people that are thinking the same thing, if not more. And if you're going to reply "Well I don't care about a puny 100 people", go ahead, I'm sure that will just inspire more people to abandon your adolescent blogging.
Just because somebody has the ability to write reviews on games, does not mean they should. Plus, this game is 10 years old, you're not saying anything that isn't already known by anyone that's played the game.
And don't get me wrong, I am a fan of this game, and I agree the beginning is boring. But it is the only real boring part about the game.

Actually, I do care about

Actually, I do care about those 100 people that might think like you do, I don't get a ton of readers, so your thoughts are important. I'm not sure if you were the original anon I replied to, but I will apologize. It was out of line. I won't remove it, however, as I don't believe in censorship, self-censorship or otherwise.

I appreciate your thoughts on reviewing boring first hours. I knew going in that the opening of Star Ocean isn't that great, and I actually played as Rena for the first time ever and was surprised at how much slower it gets going than when playing even as Claude. Claude's story is definitely more interesting at the beginning so maybe it would be worthwhile to redo the first hour playing as Claude.

Let me know your thoughts if you ever return, and this was one of the reviews that inspired me to rework my review system, though that won't protect me from acting like an idiot when responding to comments.

Thanks for your input, I do hope you return.

Ack a 1!!! XD

I was all >.< throughout reading the review after seeing the 1 overview. Then I saw "beaten before/enjoyed immensely" so I dont have to tell you it gets to be one of the coolest PS1 rpgs created =D. I agree it is a slow start tho. On a random note it was my first rpg to have a clock go over 100 hours visually. I spent over 100 hours on my first run through FFVII as well, but that clock stops at 99:59:59 hehehe

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