Star Ocean was a first. It was the first RPG on a 16-bit console to have actual voice acting! Not much, mind you, but hearing actual dialogue that isn't completely garbled is quite a feat. It's a bit strange how the opening sequence has english dialogue, but the rest of the voice effects are Japanese, but it doesn't matter.
Other than this milestone, there's plenty of reasons to invest in this title, gameplay being the main one. Characters can learn skills like blacksmithing and alchemy, which let them create items out of raw materials. The battle system is what really shines, though. Anyone familiar with the Image 1 of 3. Click to enlarge
place in real time, and the only time you'll have to wait for a bar to charge up is when someone's chanting a spell. The battlefield is fully navigable to both you and your enemies. If you want to run over and beat your enemy senseless, you can do it. The CPU will automatically run your character over to the targeted enemy when you select it, but you can manually move characters, too.
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There are some small problems with this, however. The main character, Ratix, is who you're expected to control most of the time, while the AI controls your allies. Image 2 of 3. Click to enlarge
You CAN switch to your other characters and control them manually, but if you do then Ratix stands completely still until you switch back to him. If you want to use your other allies, you'd better do it quickly or Ratix will have
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Manual movement on the field is done with a crosshair, too. You click on the spot you want to move to, and your character moves there. Once again, you're totally helpless
while picking your spot. I usually preferred to let the CPU move my characters automatically.
The plot is good for most of the game, and the choices you make determine which characters you'll get to recruit. It also determines how much the characters like you (Ratix). For example, when one of your teammates asks for clothes, you can either buy her some or steal them off a clothesline. If you choose to spend money, she'll like Ratix better. This carries over into battles, too. The more your allies like you, the more likely they are to defend you and make sure you stay healthy.
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The graphics and sound are very good (for their time) and can even be funny sometimes. I still chuckle when I put Ratix in a bar and watch him get completely drunk out of his mind. Lots of sidequests and hidden characters guarantee that you won't see everything this game has to offer after playing through it just once. Check it out sometime, and hope that one day Square-Enix puts this in an anthology collection.
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