- Star Ocean (video game)
Star Ocean cover art
TOSE (PSP)
Square Enix (PSP)
Writer(s) Yoshiharu Gotanda Composer(s) Motoi Sakuraba Platform(s) Super Famicom, PlayStation Portable Release date(s) Super Famicom
- JP July 19, 1996
Genre(s) Action role-playing Mode(s) Single-player Rating(s) PSP
Star Ocean (スターオーシャン Sutā Ōshan ) is the first game in the Star Ocean series developed by tri-Ace and published by Enix, made for the Super Famicom and released in 1996. It is also the first game that was developed by tri-Ace. It was never released outside of Japan due to the closing of Enix's American division, Enix America Corporation. Star Ocean features emotionally deep character interaction, a real-time battle system, a Star Trek-like story, and in-battle voices.
A PlayStation Portable enhanced remake titled Star Ocean: First Departure was announced prior to the 2007 Square Enix Party event. It was released in the United States on October 21, 2008, and in Europe on October 24, 2008.
Star Ocean has a random battle engine like most standard RPGs. However, battles themselves occur in real-time, not turn-based as in other RPGs of the time such as the Final Fantasy series. The player controls one character while the rest (three maximum) are controlled by the computer's AI. To assist the player in battle, it is possible to use special techniques and spells that deal more damage than standard attacks, for the price of a certain amount of MP (Mental Points). There are two types of special techniques: long range techniques that can only be executed if the character is at a distance from the target and short range techniques, which must be used at melee range. Some special techniques can be used at both long and short ranges, including spells. Although physical combat always takes place in real time, including special techniques, spells temporarily stop time while the spell animation plays and damage is assigned. Star Ocean is very similar to Tales of Phantasia in this way.
Outside of battle, storyline progression takes place as normal; however, the player can influence how the storyline proceeds by selecting different characters and interacting with them differently in private actions.
In the PlayStation Portable remake, a notable game mechanic, called Private Actions, play a role in the character development. These are certain events that occur within towns, during which character developments happen. This can cause characters to either gain or lose "affinity" toward other characters in the party. When their affinities are high enough, characters can have "rage", which increases their attack power, when certain allies fall in battle, until that ally is revived. For example, if Roddick has a high affinity toward Millie, then if Millie falls in battle, Roddick will become angry, until either Millie is revived or the battle ends. Private Actions also affect which character's endings you see.
Star Ocean tells the story of Roddick Farrence, a young Fellpool living in the town of Kratus on the underdeveloped planet of Roak. He is part of a group called the Kratus Defense Force, a small organization of fighters who defend the town from thieves and robbers. Roddick himself is a swordsman, as is his friend Dorne Murtough, another member of the force. One day, a strange disease that spreads by touch begins turning people in the northern city of Coule to stone. The town healer (who is also the father of Millie Chliette, another friend of Roddick's) goes to Coule to try and use his Symbology (Symbosis) to cure the disease, but ends up becoming infected himself.
When this news comes to Millie, Roddick, and Dorne, they set off for Mt. Metorx north of Coule to recover the Metorx herb that was said to be able to cure any sickness. With this, they hope to cure the disease and save Millie's father. When they reach the summit where the herb grows, a mysterious light bursts from the ground and two people wearing odd clothes appear before them. The man introduces themselves as Ronyx J. Kenny and Ilia Silvestri, two crew members of the Terran Alliance starship Calnus. From there they learn that the disease was sent to the planet by a foreign race called the Lezonians, whom the Earth Federation has been at war with. However, it is a mystery as to why Lezonia would even launch such a biological attack on an underdeveloped world.
It was soon revealed though that Fellpool blood could block out the visible light spectrum of the human eye and that Lezonia had used their blood to process a special, invisible material which could give them a massive advantage in the war. However, instead of fighting with it, they send emissaries to the Federation HQ and reveal that they were being forced into war by a shadowy, powerful third party with a disgust for the Federation called "Fargett".
The group then discovers that the virus originates from a monster on Roak itself -- Asmodeus, the King of the Demon World. However, Asmodeus was defeated 300 years prior to the spread of the disease. Despite the possible court martial that could be dealt to them, Ronyx decides to go to the Planet Styx to use the mysterious Time Gate to travel back in time and recover a sample of blood from Asmodeus. Upon getting there, the Gate accepts them and they enter into the opened time warp. However, Ilia trips while running up to the gate. As Roddick picks her up, they are forced through it.
After the trip through time, Roddick and Ilia find themselves separated from their counterparts, and their adventure begins to locate both Millie and Ronyx, and to defeat Asmodeus.
- Roddick Farrence
- Voiced by: Hiro Yuki, Mamoru Miyano (Japanese PSP remake), Yuri Lowenthal (English PSP remake)
- He is the game's protagonist. Ratix is a young Fellpool living on the planet Roak. He was a guardian of his home town, Kratus, alongside friends Milliw and Dorn. After a petrification virus plagued the nearby town of Coule and infected Dorne, he and Millie quest to find the cure for the virus. Eventually, with Ronyx, Ilia, and various other acquaintances he saves the future of Roak. He is proficient with long swords and the Edarl Sword style. He can equip heavy armor and shields. In Star Ocean: The Last Hope his ancestor, Eleyna Farrence, mentions him as the savior of the universe in the future.
- Millie Chliette
- Voiced by: Konami Yoshida, Hitomi Nabatame (Japanese PSP remake), Katie Leigh (English PSP remake)
- She is a Fellpool who lived in Kratus on the Muah continent on the planet Roak alongside Roddick and Dorne. She is proficient in healing Symbology (magic) and uses a staff as a weapon. She has strong feelings for Roddick, but is unwilling to admit it.
- Ronyx J. Kenny
- Voiced by: Akira Okamori, Kenji Hamada (Japanese PSP remake), Sam Gold (English PSP remake)
- He is the captain of the Terran Alliance Starship Calnus, and is a Captain in the Alliance until the Roak incident, which propels him to the status of Admiral. He has Symbological tattoos somewhere on his body (He never explains how or where) that he got during said incident to make him more effective in battle, and generally prefers a crossbow or phase gun in battle. He is the father of Claude C. Kenny, the protagonist of Star Ocean: The Second Story.
- Ilia Silvestri
- Voiced by: Wakana Yamazaki, Sanae Kobayashi (Japanese PSP remake), Julie Maddalena (English PSP remake)
- She is the head science officer on the Terran Alliance Starship Calnus. She is involved in the Roak incident which the game is based on. She is proficient in the usage of claws and martial arts, and her techniques involve the use of numerous multiple hits. She is believed to be Claude's mother in the future, as she has hidden feelings for Ronyx and regularly "grades" the party after they win a battle, something Claude is infamous for. Ilia also has a penchant for alcohol and can drink rather excessively.
- Phia Melle
- Voiced by: Konami Yoshida, Megumi Toyoguchi (Japanese PSP remake), Dorothy Fahn (English PSP remake)
- She is the head of the Astral Knights. Phia's a Highland fighter who uses throwing daggers in combat with the Hisho-ken style. She secretly worries about Cyuss, with whom she grew up with since childhood, but always hides her feelings because she is more concerned about proving herself to be a competent knight. Never directly attacking the enemy, she throws two or more daggers at a time from medium range. Although not as tough physically as the other fighters, she has the advantage when engaging the enemy at range and out of harm's way. If you don't recruit Cyuss, Phia will temporarily join you early in the game. If you don't recruit Ashlay either, then you will have a chance to recruit her permanently by doing a side quest. If by reaching to her point, you already have recruited Cyuss or Ashlay, she will not join you right away, but you will have another chance to recruit her after a certain event later on in the game, if you have less than seven party members.
- Ashlay Bernbeldt
- Voiced by: Kazuhiko Inoue, Norio Wakamoto (Japanese PSP remake), Michael McConnohie (English PSP remake)
- He is an old Highland soldier wandering the world to find a successor in which to teach his sword skills. If chosen over Cyuss, he forms such a relationship with Roddick. Ashlay is one of the characters whose recruitment leads to a permanent dismissal of another character (if you get Ashlay you cannot get Cyuss). He has many of the same techniques as Roddick, such as Shockwave Swirl and the Seven Star techniques. He appears as an Easter egg in Star Ocean: The Last Hope as the ranking champion of the arena in Astral, though he is much younger in appearance.
- Cyuss Warren
- Voiced by: Hiroki Touchi (Both original SFC version and Japanese PSP remake), Grant George (English PSP remake)
- He is the first of the Highland warriors you can recruit and is the son of Lias Warren, whom he has difficulty getting along with. His dream is to become the greatest swordsman in the land. Cyuss wields a broadsword, and is a bit archetypal when it comes to heavy-sword characters: he's powerful but slow. His techniques mirror Roddick's own (such as Shockwave Swirl, Twin Slash and the Seven Star techniques). If you choose Cyuss you cannot choose Ashlay, and vice-versa.
- Mavelle Froesson
- Voiced by: Nozomi Nonaka, Houko Kuwashima (Japanese PSP remake), Tara Platt (English PSP remake)
- She is a wizard-like character who accompanies Ronyx and Millie to Ionis. Her weapon is a magic orb that she throws at the enemy. Unfortunately she cannot attack a second time until the orb comes back to her. She has little attack power and short attack range; however, her speed in casting Techniques are unparalleled. She is one of the more complex characters to recruit. If you've chosen Ashlay or Ioshua, Mavelle will join. If you don't have Ashlay or Ioshua, but instead Cyuss or Phia, she will not join at Ionis. If you have none of said characters, and choose not to have a drink at the reunion in Ionis, she will join. You can remove her from the party permanently if you have Ioshua in your party and visit a certain room in Sylvalant Ruins. In the PlayStation Portable remake, if by reaching these ruins you have both Ashlay and Ioshua in your party, then you can exchange her for Ioshua's sister Eris as a playable character. It is eventually revealed that Mavelle is a member of the Muah, the progenitors of the human race.
- Ioshua Jerand
- Voiced by: Nobuyuki Hiyama, Jun Fukuyama (Japanese PSP remake), Ethan Murray (English PSP remake)
- Ioshua is a gentle and handsome Featherfolk who is searching for his sister, whom he was separated from after their parents were murdered. He despises combat, but realizes it is a necessary evil to survive in the world. He can cast both healing and destructive spells, but has less of a variety in his spell selection than either Ronyx or Millie and suffers from having a low attack power and mediocre equipment. You can meet him if you visit the Purgatorium before you see the Celestial Ship crash on the Muah continent. If you have Phia (without either Cyuss or Ashlay) you have to convince both of them to stay. Likewise, if you have either Ashlay or Cyuss, he joins automatically, but he can be turned away later. In the original Super Famicom version, he was slightly unfriendly and sort of antisocial, but in the PSP remake, his personality is more reserved and sad.
- Voiced by: Wakana Yamazaki, Yukari Tamura (Japanese PSP remake), Alicyn Packard (English PSP remake)
- A so-called "secret character", as recruiting her requires a certain course of side-events needs to be fulfilled over a good portion of the game's story. Pericci serves as comedic relief. She starts with low stats but gains several powerful techniques, so she is a good character for those willing to spend the time training her. She is also the only character to use the Bunny Whistle. To recruit her, you need to return to Roddick's hometown after certain events later in the game, choose to do a Private Action and use the ocarina you got from her early in the game to the cat Ilia and Millie are playing with.
- T'nique Arcana
- Voiced by: Takuya Fujisaki, Chihiro Suzuki (Japanese PSP remake), Vic Mignogna (English PSP remake)
- T'nique is another "secret character" in the game. Being a Lycanthrope, he can transform into a werewolf in battle and has one of the greatest attack ranges and attack speeds out of all characters. His attack power leaves something to be desired, being a weaker fighter character. He can be recruited by winning a D-rank arena match or higher with Roddick, in which T'nique will be his final opponent. Defeating him adds him to your party if you have an extra slot and less than seven characters in your party. T'nique aspires to travel and train to become an excellent fighter, but other than that there isn't much background story to him.
- Erys Jerand
- Voiced by: Kana Ueda, Stephanie Sheh (English)
- Erys is Ioshua's younger sister and was kidnapped when they were children. Their parents were murdered, and Erys was taken and brainwashed to be an assassin for the Crimson Shield. Somehow she managed to escape from the group and swapped her body for that of Mavelle's so she can search for her parents' killer in secret. Like all Featherfolk, she uses Symbology from a distance. Erys does not appear at all in the original Star Ocean, but is one of the two extra characters for the PlayStation Portable remake and is only acquired by dropping Mavelle from the party in the Old Race Ruins.
- Welch Vineyard
- Voiced by: Tomoe Hanba, Melissa Fahn (English)
- Similar to Erys, Welch is only available in the game's PSP remake. She first appeared as a non-playable Character in Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time and again in The Last Hope, but has been retroactively added to the first two games, during which she can join the player's party. She is characterized as a young, somewhat ditzy girl who is primarily interested in meeting guys. She attacks using a "Handy Stick", a long pole with a typical cartoon white-gloved hand on it.
The game was made by disenchanted developers who had just made Tales of Phantasia for Namco, and many of its features were in Tales of Phantasia as well. They left due to creative disputes, and Star Ocean features many similar ideas. The two games also stretched the power of the Super Famicom to its limits, with a total of 48 megabits of data (the most that could be stored in a cartridge). Star Ocean also used an S-DD1 chip to aid in compression of almost all graphics and map data, meaning that it effectively stored even more data than Tales of Phantasia. In the "Virtual Reality Sound System," the "Flexible Voice Driver" was again used to overcome the 64kb limit of the SPC700 chip by swapping bits of vocal samples, and a surround-sound feature was added; there were even more voices than in Tales of Phantasia (although they had to be stored at lower quality to fit within the cartridge limits).
Star Ocean: First Departure is an enhanced remake of the original Star Ocean. The first details of the game were revealed at the "Star Ocean Special Stage" during the Square Enix Party 2007, alongside those of Star Ocean: The Second Story. Yoshinori Yamagishi, producer of the series, stated that he wants the remakes to feel as though they're completely new games. The game was released in Japan on December 27, 2007, and was released in North America and Europe on October 21, 2008 and October 24, 2008 respectively; making it the first time that the original Star Ocean was officially released outside of Japan. The English localization was handled by Nanica, Inc., with voice-over production services provided by Epcar Entertainment, Inc. Recordings were made at the Oracle Post studios in Burbank, CA.
First Departure uses a slightly altered version of the engine used for Star Ocean: The Second Story with similar features, including prerendered backgrounds and 3D battle fields. Production I.G provided new artwork and animated cutscenes for the game. New playable characters have been added as well. There are new voice actors and extensive amounts of new, fully voiced dialogue. Some music from Star Ocean: The Second Story, such as that of the bonus dungeon and riding a bunny on the world map, are played during similar scenes in the remake. It also features a theme song: "Heart" by the Japanese group Asunaro.
Reception Aggregate scores Aggregator Score GameRankings (SNES) 90.00%
Metacritic (PSP) 74/100 Review scores Publication Score 1UP.com (PSP) B+ GameSpot (PSP) 6/10 GameSpy (PSP)  GameZone (PSP) 8/10 IGN (PSP) 7.4/10 Nintendo Life (SNES) 9/10 Game Vortex (PSP) 81/100 RPGFan (PSP) 9.4/10 RPGamer (PSP) 
Star Ocean sold approximately 235,000 copies in Japan. Star Ocean: First Departure sold 115,280 copies in Japan by end of 2007. As of November 30, 2008, the game has sold 204,996 copies in Japan.
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- ^ Ashcraft, Brian (2007-05-10). "De-licious: Square Offers Tasty Pre-Party Morsels". Kotaku.com. http://kotaku.com/gaming/de_licious/square-offers-tasty-pre+party-morsels-259251.php. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- ^ Square Enix Party Press Conference Announcement | Square Enix
- ^ Voice actors surf PSP Star Oceans - PSP News at GameSpot
- ^ Hirohiko Niizumi (2007-05-12). "Voice actors surf PSP Star Oceans". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/news/6170683.html. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- ^ http://www.gamerankings.com/snes/588691-star-ocean/index.html
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- ^ http://www.metacritic.com/game/psp/star-ocean-first-departure
- ^ http://www.1up.com/do/reviewPage?cId=3170731&p=7
- ^ http://www.gamespot.com/psp/rpg/staroceanthefirstdeparture/review.html
- ^ http://psp.gamespy.com/playstation-portable/star-ocean-first-departure-/920992p1.html
- ^ http://psp.gamezone.com/gzreviews/r32548.htm
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- ^ http://www.rpgamer.com/games/socean/so1fd/reviews/so1fdstrev1.html
- ^ "Sales Record". tri-Ace Corporation. http://www.tri-ace.co.jp/en/company/sales.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- ^ Takahashi (June 18, 2008). "Famitsu Top 500 of 2007". Gemaga.com. http://www.gemaga.com/2008/06/16/famitsu-top-500-of-2007. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
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- Japanese Star Ocean: First Departure official site
- American Star Ocean: First Departure official site
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