Star Ocean

Moby ID: 10916

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 89% (based on 5 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 22 ratings with 3 reviews)

Star Ocean

The Good
Star Ocean came out in the later part of the SNES. The graphics are one of the best that I saw on the SNES easily rivaling or exceeding Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger. The battle system is very good and unique, you only control one person in battle (yourself) and assign tactics to your other party members like concentrate on healing or use all of your might. The character creation and gameplay is also very good. There is a secret dungeon and a boss that's tougher than the final boss for a challenge and their is item creation, you can cook, play music, the list goes on. I also must say this is one of the deepest RPG's for the SNES and the story is compelling as well.

The Bad
The only thing I can think of that I didn't like about the game is that it was never translated and released in the US back in 96'. Though since their are emulators around.... Other then that Star Ocean didn't disappoint.

The Bottom Line
It's a role playing game, if you played Final Fantasy the basics will be very easy. The only learning curve might be the skills

SNES · by TheNightWalker (12) · 2004

This could have been a great game but its bad battle system and complex labyrinths are annoying

The Good
Star Ocean (from now on SO) is a RPG released late during the lifetime of the SNES, exclusively in japan, but an excellent fan translation to English is available (and is the version I played). Despite having no official connexion with the other SNES game Tales of Phantasia, Star Ocean was developed by the same people and uses the same game engine as Tales of Phantasia (from now on TOP). They spawned a few sequel to both games on more advanced consoles, but I admit I haven't played any of them, I've only played the original TOP prior to playing SO, so I'd really consider SO to be the spiritual sequel to TOP.

At a first glance SO looks like your standard medieval-fantasy RPG for the first hour of gameplay. You control a guy named Ratix and his friend Milly, and you met with Iria and Roxinis, who came from a more advanced planet to help you to save your planet from doom by travelling through time and space .

The music in Star Ocean was made by the same guy who did Tales of Phantasia and Golden Sun games (for those who doesn't know, Golden Sun is a very famous RPG for the Game Boy Advance). For some reason however I think the style sounds closer to Golden Sun - In other words this means the soundtrack of this game is for the most part very good. The battle theme in particular is a total masterpiece and never gets old, while other songs are more forgettable, but still enjoyable while playing. There is also a very good boss theme but it's used only once in the game unfortunately, while the standard boss theme is not as good.

The sound effects does their work, and there is a lot of voice clips (just like in TOP), although they are in Japanese so chances are you don't understand them anyway. Some sound effects are weird, for example when someone level ups it sounds like a piano has been thrown out the window and crashes on the ground.

Graphics are very good too, no big surprise they follow the same anime style as TOP, but they improved colors (which were somehow washed out in TOP), so this is very pleasant to look at. It's hard to know what were the standard for 1996, as most games were already on 32-bit consoles with CD-ROM, but SO is definitely one of the best looking SNES games.

The Bad
Unfortunately, SO doesn't fix up the flaws of TOP. On the other side they made the same errors again but this time they appear more gross.

First of all, the re-used screens. SO re-uses screens ALL THE TIME, without even palette-swapping them. EVERY dungeons are like you are on screen A, you have 4 exits. You choose randomly, you end up in a long corridor, then you are on screen B which have 3 exits. You pick one randomly, you have another long corridor and you end up in a duplicate of screen A. Have you already been here or not ?

It's extremely hard to explore everything without missing treasures and figuring where you are and where you already went. Tales of Phantasia already had this problem in one place or two, but SO have worsened it. I mean they are both the biggest SNES games with 6MB of cartridge data, and they have to re-use screens this much like very older games did ? How comes that Chrono Trigger which is only 4MB is feels way larger and deeper than this game ?

Second problem : The battle system. Final Fantasy XIII, didn't invent anything and just ripped off SO's system. In other words, your comrades are controlled by the computer while you indirectly control the main character trough menus. Basically this means you press 'A', select an enemy to attack with the D-Pad and press 'A' again to attack him. You can also press 'B' for spells or items and 'L' or 'R' to do special techniques, but those are so slow to load that 90% of the time some enemy will attack you and cancel them before you get a chance for them to work.

The Bottom Line
Star Ocean is notable for it's great music and graphics, and is enjoyable at the start of your adventure but as you progress in the game it becomes gradually worse as you'll be lost in 10 floors labyrinths with random battles every 5 steps without a chance to control whether you win or loose and sometimes lacking resources to heal your party as this game lacks Tents or something equivalent so use your 3 save slots well.

I'd recommend it only for hardcore JRPG fans, and I'd rather recommend playing Tales of Phantasia which is very similar (same game engine), has the same flaws but less of them.

SNES · by Bregalad (937) · 2012

A futuristic plot for a classic J-RPG

The Good
There are some special games because of their characteristics. Maybe just because the game was released only in Japan and because of its particular gameplay, Star Ocean has become one of those cult games, very popular between the classic J-RPGs players.

Star Ocean is really different from another RPGs games. The essence is the same of the classic J-RPG, but the main story is different from all the others because it's about our own world, it has many references during the game to the planet Earth as we now in the real life (and this is something that I've never seen before in a J-RPG). It makes the game exclusive and unique. It's true that the game has a parallel world and most of the game take place there, but once you've started the game and you're transported to the main ship for the first time, the story changes as well as your point of view of the game.

The storyline is the best remarkable thing in this game. It's a bit unclear, but at the same time unique. The other things of the game are the same as always. There are many characters on the game and you'll find them while you're progressing on your quest. Many of them has side quests to know much more about your partners.

You can fight with 4 characters, but you can only control the main one (called Ratix, but you can change the name) in the maps. In the battles you can choose any character to play with, each one has different techniques and stats, but the usual is that you take control of Ratix, and leave the rest to the AI. Talking about that, AI is really good, specially when you need to be healed (the most important thing when you leave things like that to the AI). Anyway, if you want you can take control of any character during the battle (it will stop, so, take your time). The battle system is good, a step backward from Tales of Phantasia, but still fast and dynamic when you're playing.

There are a lot of items to get, and you'll need a lot of time to know how to use all of them (that's real headache, for sure). The skill points system/techniques is annoying too, but you don't need this to finish the game, you can success with the basic things learnt, you don't need to master your techniques or knowing all about your items. Of course, to know all that makes the game experience better.

Graphics are good, just like Tales of Phantasia, with many shadow effects and many details in the maps. The game uses all the capacities of the SNES. The sound is a remarkable aspect of the game, with voices during battles (when you perform a special technique or magic spell). The music was composed by Motoi Sakuraba, the same guy that composed the original music for Tales of Phantasia.

The battle system is good, besides the standard attack which is different depending on the character's weapon, you have two buttons (L and R buttons) to assign two techniques. You can do it on your status screen and you learn those special techniques rising up some levels or just progressing in your adventure.

The Bad
The main problem of this game is the fact that Star Ocean was released after Tales of Phantasia, and Tales of Phantasia is a better game in every aspect of the game, better music, better story and, what's the most important thing, better gameplay with a perfect battle system.

The amount of items, techniques and skills to learn makes the game a bit confusing, and you'll need a lot of time to know how it works. The auto-equipment option (which can be turned off) helps it, and it's possible that you don't pay attention to the main status screen, only to assign your techniques and nothing more. You'll have many items, and most of them will not be used. All those things makes the main menu a bit useless and you won't care about it.

Story is good, but it needs time to start being interesting. The beginning is fascinating, but once you're fully in the game everything's confusing. Sometimes you only have to travel around the world searching for the main story, with no concrete objective.

Graphics aren't bad, but there are too many cold colours. Most of the cities looks the same. That makes the cities out of personality.

Battle system should have been better. It's like an action RPG, and it has nothing of a tactical game. Tales of Phantasia had a similar battle system, but it was more tactical and you could control your character moving it with your D-Pad, here you can't. Some enemies are really dangerous, even more than the main bosses of their areas. The big boss of the game is really easy to be defeated.

When you're in walking through the maps, it's a bit annoying to progress. That's because the stages has many details and sometimes you don't know where to go because you can't see the exits. Many places are like labyrinths and it's really easy to get lost there, with hidden rooms, buttons to push and all those classic labyrinths stuff, so, prepare to lose many time if you want to get every item of every place.

To finish with, as many of the RPGs, you can only move your character in four directions, and here there are many paths which are diagonal paths (more than other RPGs), and you'll start feeling really stupid when you go through them.

The Bottom Line
Star Ocean is a good game with an unique story never seen before but decreased because of its unstable gameplay and its annoying plot as well as the skill points/techniques system. Star Ocean may not be a point of reference because there are other RPGs for the Super Nintendo much better, but it's not a bad alternative once you've finished all the other must-have RPGs for the Nintendo 16-bit system.

SNES · by NeoJ (398) · 2009

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Patrick Bregger, Richard Wilder, eradix, Alsy.