It’s been 25 years since the Japanese debut of Star Ocean The second storyone of fans’ favorite chapters of the long-running action role-playing game series Square Enixand this one has decided to do justice to an often underestimated title a new remakewhich follows the game released on PSP in 2009.
So we couldn’t help but check if the Chocobo house was there Final Fantasy had managed to keep the bar straight this time too, after recent similar operations such as: B. excellent results were achieved Live to live before and Tactics: Ogre Reborn After.
Here is our review of it Star Ocean Second Story Rplayed on Nintendo Switch for the occasion, but will soon also be available on the market for PC and for both Sony consoles.
Educational intergalactic travel
Despite greater care in the dialogue and increased depth of private actions, the narrative structure is now more freely accessible than in the past Star Ocean Second Story R it’s not at all different from the original title or the first remake from 2009.
The player is first asked to choose between these two possible selectable characters, Claude and Renadifferent in origin and motivation, but equally searching for answers: The first, son of the intergalactic hero Ronyx G. Kenny, is sucked into a kind of black hole that carries him away from the planet Milokeenia, which he was researching with his father and a Investigative team investigate mysterious disappearances in the surrounding desert.
When he wakes up, Claude finds himself in the middle of a lush forest. He doesn’t know where he is or how he got there, but he’s self-aware enough to save a purple-haired passerby from a monster attack.
This passerby is Rena Lanford, resident of the planet Expel, who, against her mother’s advice, ventured into the Sacred Forest, which, like the rest of the region, was full of monsters after the impact of a mysterious meteorite.
The plot, characters and dialogue work, although the lack of New Game Plus is a shame.
Rena lives in a charming village in this world that Claude thinks is underdeveloped, but she can’t wait to understand what she is real origins (the one he calls “Mama” is not his birth mother) and the nature of his healing power, as Claude wonders how he will get home without a spaceship that can take him back to his home planet.
It goes without saying that, as is usual with a JRPG, The two soon take the path that leads them out of the city Place amenus and straight into the middle of dangerbut also to the long-awaited answers that will arrive no earlier than forty hours later, including some optional content inserted by the development team.
The plot, characters and dialogue work, but remain largely in the comfort zone typical of the genre to which they belongand there is one who can improve the situation good translation of the texts in our language, just marred by inaccuracies (such as “Equip Wizard” translating the auto-equip wizard in the menus), which can easily be fixed with a targeted patch.
Whether you choose Claude or Rena, at a certain point the events will fall into place, but the decision to give the player the freedom to experience the story in the player’s role is notable, and that was even more so Quarter of a century ago. ‘One or the other protagonist.
I’m sorry about thatLack of a New Game Plus mode (unfortunately a classic of the franchise) prevents you from experiencing the adventure a second time in the role of the hero/heroine that you didn’t want to embody in the first playthrough.
This can also be fixed with a patch after release and we hope the Gemdrops team members will do so in due course.
Little could be done, but what little was done was done well
From a narrative perspective, the title’s gameplay didn’t need any modernization to still be fun, thanks to the few advances the genre has made over the last two decades.
The team around Yuichiro Kitao has a lot to offer worked to refine a combat system that was already working well at the time of his birthand which then influenced several generations of Japanese action RPGs, add two characteristics which fit perfectly into the course of the arguments and that help make every fight even deeper.
The first of these is the addition of a break system: Each enemy has a shield that initially protects them from the group’s attacks, but once eliminated, it renders them helpless for a few seconds, allowing you to deal significant damage through the game’s rich combo system.
All offensive skills that can be learned by investing experience points are then divided into those that only damage the enemies’ health, those that only affect the enemy’s shield, and, in the case of the most powerful skills, those that deal damage to both .
Many enemies have shields that are nearly impenetrable except for certain types of attackswhile others have weak shields but high total hit points: it’s up to the player to always choose the move appropriate to the situation.
Targeted additions make the combat system more spectacular.
The other notable addition is the Attack actions, quickly summoning party members who are not directly involved in combatwho intervene skills unique, takes care of the party or have fun his comrades: Not only are these spectacular choreographically, but they often prove crucial when used against an enemy in a state of destruction, with their armor reduced to zero.
Despite the hectic pace and the frantic pace the struggles of Star Ocean Second Story R They do a very good job of adding a welcome layer of tactical complexity to an otherwise dated combat systemwhich, as already mentioned, did not require any other major precautions in order to keep up with its more modern counterparts.
We particularly appreciated the development team’s offer three different levels of difficulty for the player, with only one of the three (Earth) being truly accommodating and designed for beginners and younger players, while the other two (Galaxy and Universe, which we have selected and which we recommend to veterans of the genre) are capable of testing the reflexes and strategic skills of the average player. Accessibility is a privilege we hold dear, but in short, a dash of challenge never hurts.
The only solution that made us turn up our noses a little is represented by Presence of simple shapeless clouds instead of enemies on the game map: Seeing what enemies are wandering around will help you judge whether it’s appropriate to avoid them or fight, perhaps to collect the materials they might leave on the ground at the end of the fight.
Since you can’t see them, you come across anonymous clouds with the real danger of being forced into a useless fight: in such a sophisticated remake, even on a visual level, they could have done better from this point of view.
Clean and pinto
Although I can no longer enjoy the novelty of the first Square Enix remakes, the graphics of Star Ocean Second Story Ra triumph of pixelated characters in two dimensions and detailed environments in three, still manages to amazeespecially if you choose to enjoy the Switch screen, as we did for most of the hours we spent on this test.
Despite the seeming dichotomy between the two different visual styles, thanks to the clever use of shaders and the lighting system, the final effect is much more cohesive and natural than one might think, and players’ eyes cannot help but be pleased.
The polygonal construction, while not outstanding, is light years ahead of the remake on the PSP (pardon the pun, we swear it wasn’t intentional), and the effects are very good, with an on-screen rendering of magic and certain abilities , which are downright spectacular for a JRPG.
Also check out other recent works including those mentioned above Tactics Ogre And Live to livebut also on new IPs like Triangle strategyIn summary, Square Enix seems to have found the key to re-proposing for modern audiences Classics of the genre without distorting their original style and artistic visionwhich also rests on a very solid foundation on a purely technical level.
If we exclude widespread but never really impactful phenomena of emergence of elements of the scenario during the outdoor exploration phases, such as: B. Buildings in the distance and vegetation appearing out of nowhere, we can actually say that we are more than satisfied with the technical cleanliness of the Switch version we tested, which is also the weakest of all.
We didn’t encounter any particular errorsWe were never forced to reload a save due to a bug, and we never experienced any significant performance drops during exploration or hectic combat, whether in portable mode or when playing on TV.
From a sound perspective, there isn’t much to complain about either: The great original soundtrack by Maestro Motoi Sakuraba has been rearranged in some titles, with the contribution of strings and wind instruments, and remastered in otherswho, despite the quarter century that has passed since their debut, have lost none of their energy.
All important lines of dialogue were completely voiced by the original actorswith a final result that is significantly superior to the vocal track included in the PSP version, but is selectable from the options menu for those who prefer.
The reporting is of course not 100%, if it is true that a large part of the secondary dialogue remains unpublished, but overall the work done is quite okay best quality Both for the choice of voices and the acting performances of the cast, which is good at conveying the different accents of populations living in the same galaxy but from different planets.