Star Ocean: The Second Story
|Star Ocean: The Second Story|
North American PlayStation cover art
Star Ocean: The Second Story (スターオーシャン セカンドストーリー Sutā Ōshan Sekando Sutōrī?) is an action role-playing video game developed by tri-Ace and published by Enix for the PlayStation. It is the second game in the Star Ocean series and the first game in the series to be released outside Japan, arriving in North America in May 1999 and Europe in April 2000, courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment. Taking place in a science fantasy universe, the story centers around a young man named Claude Kenny, a cadet from a space-faring Earth organization who is stranded on an undeveloped, medieval-level planet. There, he meets several companions and must stop a plot from an evil organization that spans multiple worlds before finding his way home. The game was the basis of manga and anime adaptations.
An enhanced port called Star Ocean: Second Evolution (スターオーシャン2 セカンド エヴォリューション Sutā Ōshan 2 Sekando Evoryūshon?) was developed by TOSE, later released for the PlayStation Portable in April 2008 in Japan, and 2009 in North America, Europe, and Australia. It features newly animated cutscenes by Production I.G, a re-recorded soundtrack, and additional story elements. At the 2015 Tokyo Game Show, it was announced that the PlayStation Portable remake would be ported to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
The game gives the player the choice of playing as Claude or Rena, with the journey evolving and ending differently depending on the choices one makes. The Second Story's gameplay is broadly similar to that of most RPGs. The player goes from town to town and dungeon to dungeon, following the central story and occasionally branching off to perform side quests. Characters gain Experience Points from battle and level up as a result, becoming gradually stronger as time passes and more battles are fought.
However, the game is a member of the Star Ocean franchise, and as such features various deviations from the standard RPG format. Battles are much more action-oriented: they take place in real time, during which the player has manual control over their character, as opposed to choosing options from a menu. Battles take place on a broad battlefield, over which the player's character can move without limit, allowing them to trade blows face-to-face with the enemy or circle around for a flanking attack. The other party members (up to 3 others) are controlled by the game's AI; the player may change an ally's Strategy to one of six different pre-determined options (ranging from "Spread out and attack" to "Save your Magic Points" to "Stand Still and Don't Do Anything").
The game features a comprehensive Skill system. Nine different batches of skills are sold in in-game shops; once unlocked this way, they must be learned by committing battle-earned "Skill Points" to them. Some skills raise a character's statistics; some unlock Specialty abilities; and some provide bonuses in battle (such as the ability to counter-attack). Specialties allow the characters to create a wide variety of items, and include Herbal medicine, Cooking, Writing, Composing and Musicianship, Pickpocketing and Training. Furthermore, the entire party can contribute to "Super Specialty" skills such as "Master Chef", Blacksmithing, Publishing and "Reverse Side", which allows the character to counterfeit valuable items at the risk of lowering their allies' opinion of them. Every item created has some sort of tangible benefit—foods restore Hit Points and/or Magic Points, training increases the gain in Experience Points, and written novels can be submitted to a publisher, with royalties collectable later—but every attempt requires the expenditure of a consumable item, and may fail to produce anything useful.
Finally, a mechanic called "Private Actions" allows the player to influence the relations between their characters. During a "Private Action", the player's party temporarily breaks up during a visit to a town, with each character going their own way to shop, visit friends and family (if applicable) or otherwise relax. The player's main character (either Claude or Rena) can then interact with their allies, often with the option of making one of those allies like another character more (or less). This "relationship point" mechanic can have a major effect in battle—if Character A's close friend is felled, Character A will get major combat bonuses for a short time—and also determines what ending the player will see, as each party member's scene plays out differently depending on who they did (or didn't) befriend. There are 86 possible endings (or 87, depending on how one wants to count them).
Star Ocean: The Second Story takes place twenty years after the original game, Star Ocean. The game tells the stories of Claude C. Kenny, son of Ronyx J. Kenny, and Rena Lanford, a young girl living on the planet Expel. Claude, having recently been commissioned as an Ensign in the Earth Federation, is given his first mission under the supervision of his father. This first mission is to survey the planet Milocinia, where a mysterious energy field appears. Finding a mysterious device on Milocinia (renamed Milokeenia in the PSP port), Claude begins to examine it close-up, despite orders to keep away from it. As he approaches, the machine activates, teleporting him to Expel. Once on Expel, Claude meets Rena who mistakes him for the "Hero of Light," spoken of in legends on Expel because he wields a "Sword of Light" (actually the standard-issue Phase Gun all Federation officers carry) and is dressed in "alien raiments." She takes him back to her village, Arlia, for corroboration.
In Arlia, it is explained to Claude that a meteorite crashed into Expel. Almost immediately afterwards, monsters began appearing, and natural disasters occurred with increasing frequency and intensity. Believing that these events were related, the people of Expel called the meteorite the "Sorcery Globe". Though he explains that he is not the Hero of Light, Claude offers to investigate the Sorcery Globe, in the hopes that it might help lead him home. Rena assists him as his native guide and hopes to find knowledge about her origin, being an orphan.
Though their journey takes them the long way around, Claude and Rena (and whichever characters the player decides to recruit) manage to travel across Expel and finally reach the Sorcery Globe and encounter the Ten Wise Men. The Sorcery Globe, which the Ten Wise Men call the "Quadratic Sphere", is a device they planted on Expel in order to steer it into a massive energy formation called Energy Nede, from which the Ten Wise Men were exiled thousands of years ago. It is their hope to return to Energy Nede using Expel as a vessel. They succeed and the entire planet of Expel is destroyed by its collision with Energy Nede.
Through unspecified means, Claude and Rena survive the impact and wake up on Energy Nede. They are met by Mayor Narl who explains who the Ten Wise Men are, why they were exiled, and that, now that they are back, they hope to destroy the entire universe using advanced Heraldry (magic). Narl furthermore announces that Energy Nede has the ability to restore Expel by using powerful Heraldry to turn back time, but this is only possible if the Ten Wise Men are defeated. Claude and Rena agree to help in the resistance, and embark on various voyages to strengthen themselves, obtain information and learn about the enemy.
Eventually Claude and Rena along with their friends assault the Ten Wise Men's stronghold at Fienal, where they put an end to the enemy once and for all. The ending is composed of scenes describing the fates of the party's characters, and changes slightly depending on if you discovered the Ten Wise Men's true identity and " raison d'être " through the means of Private Actions.
Star Ocean: The Second Story has two main characters, the human Claude (voiced by Yuji Ueda (Japanese original), Jimmy Freeman (English original), Daisuke Namikawa (Japanese PSP Port) and Spike Spencer (English PSP Port)) and the Nedian (member of a pointy-eared humanoid race) Rena (voiced by Aya Hisakawa (Japanese original), Donna Mae Wong (English original), Nana Mizuki (Japanese PSP Port) and Claudia Lenz (English PSP Port)), and upon starting a new game the player is asked to choose between one of them. The choice has an impact upon the game's plot and story, though the vast majority of content is identical in both lines. There are ten other playable characters in the game, though the player can only recruit six of them to fill out their eight-member party, and some recruitment choices will make other characters no longer available.
- Celine Jules: Voiced by: Yuki Kaida (Japanese original), Kana Koinuma (English original), Saki Nakajima (Japanese PSP Port) and Allison Hollingshead (English PSP Port)
- She hails from the Expelian town of Marze, which is known for its well-trained magicians; she is a treasure hunter, wandering the world in search of money and new loot.
- Ashton Anchors: Voiced by: Daisuke Sakaguchi (Japanese original), David Babich (English original), Akira Ishida (Japanese PSP Port) and Jeffrey Maxwell (English PSP Port)
- He is an Expelian warrior whom the party meets while attempting to defeat a marauding two-headed dragon. Much to Ashton's consternation, they become fused to his body; though he constantly bemoans their presence, he refuses to separate them from himself when given the option. He serves as comic relief in the game.
- Precis F. Neumann: Voiced by: Yuuko Sumitomo (Japanese original), Kana Koinuma (English original), Rie Kugimiya (Japanese PSP port) and Jhoanna Trias (English PSP port)
- She is the rebellious daughter of an Expelian inventor, who is foisted on the player's party because her father feels she needs friends.
- Bowman Jeane: Voiced by: Ryou Horikawa (Japanese original), Michael G. Davis (English original), Keiji Fujiwara (Japanese PSP port) and Doug Erholtz (English PSP port)
- He is an easy-going Expelian pharmacist from the same town as Precis, who makes herbal medicines for a living. He is a skilled martial artist, using fists, feet and poisons in combat.
- Opera Vectra: Voiced by: Yuko Nagashima (Japanese original), Marie Shell (English original), Atsuko Tanaka (Japanese PSP port) and Ashley Lambert (English PSP port)
- She is a Tetrageniot noblewoman who crash lands on Expel while searching for her boyfriend Ernest.
- Ernest Raviede: Voiced by: Hiroki Touchi (Japanese original), Phillip Mayall (English original), Hiroki Touchi (Japanese PSP port) and Terrence Stone (English PSP port)
- He is a Tetrageniot archaeologist who travels across the galaxy in hopes of important archaeological discoveries.
- Dias Flac: Voiced by: Ryo Horikawa (Japanese original), Erik Bergmann (English original), Tomokazu Sugita (Japanese PSP port) and Kyle Hebert (English PSP port)
- He is an experienced swordsman from Rena's home of Arlia. He left his home after the tragic loss of his family. Rena considers him the older brother she never had. Their closeness and Dias' clear skill with a sword engenders something of an inferiority complex in Claude, but the two eventually establish a mutual respect.
- Leon D.S. Geeste: Voiced by: Yuki Kaida (Japanese original), Grant Wachspress (English original), Yumiko Kobayashi (Japanese PSP port) and Zack Goldman (English PSP port)
- He is a young Fellpool genius with numerous scientific and magical accomplishments to his name. He often brags about his intellect, but is deeply insecure, especially when not under his parents' wing.
- Noel Chandler: Voiced by: Daisuke Sakaguchi (Japanese original), Jimmy Freeman (English original), Takahiro Mizushima (Japanese PSP port), Peter Doyle (English PSP port)
- He is a Nedian zoologist and reclusive nature-lover who lives alone in a cabin.
- Chisato Madison: Voiced by: Rumi Kasahara (Japanese original), Jessica K. Heidt (English original), Fuyuka Ooura (Japanese PSP port), Julie Ann Taylor (English PSP port)
- She is a Nedian newspaper reporter who initially stalks the party as a way to get her next story written. Once she learns that Claude and Rena are on a quest to save the world, she offers to accompany them.
The main antagonists of the game make their first appearances midway through the game, introducing themselves as the "Ten Wise Men." In the original Japanese game, they are named after various angels from Christian theology. In the initial English release, they were renamed, but the original names were restored in Second Evolution.
- Gabriel (Indalecio in English original), voiced by Masaharu Satou (Japanese original), Erik Bergmann (English original), Rikiya Koyama (Japanese PSP port), and Richard Epcar (English PSP port)
- The "leader" of the Ten Wise Men, but secretly he has his own plans for the destruction of the universe. He is only contained by his love for his daughter Philia, who limits his abilities to do battle. If the right events occur in the game and Philia dies, Gabriel can become a much more formidable foe.
- Lucifer (Cyril in English original), voiced by Kensaku Kobayashi (Japanese original), Brian Vouglas (English original), Shinichiro Miki (Japanese PSP port), and Dick Neptune (English PSP port)
- Second-in-command of the Ten Wise Men, but, like Gabriel, also has his own plans for domination and/or destruction of the universe.
- Michael (Decus in English original), voiced by Hiroki Touchi (Japanese original), J.S. Gilbert (English original), Hiroki Touchi (Japanese PSP port), and Peter Spellos (English PSP port) – a pyromaniac, who is seen along with Haniel, when Claude's party reached the middle floor of Phynal Tower.
- Haniel (Vesper in English original), voiced by Kensaku Kobayashi (Japanese original), Brian Vouglas (English original), Taiten Kusunoki (Japanese PSP port), Steven Memel (English PSP port)
- He accompanies Michael when Claude's party reached the middle floor of Phynal Tower.
- Metatron (Berle in English original)
- The first Wise Man in the game at Eluria Tower. He attacks the party to test its strength, and later reappears in the town of Armlock, where he attacks the blacksmith that was creating the weapons needed to kill the Wise Men.
- Zaphkiel (Marsilio in English original)
- The second Wise Man encountered in the lower floor of Phynal Tower. Through this encounter, the party learns that the Wise Men cannot be killed with normal equipment. After the party obtains the necessary weaponry, Zaphkiel attacks the party as they train to use it.
- Jophiel (Shigeo in English original)
- An android Wise Man. He speaks in all capital letters (katakana in the Japanese version) and has no emotion at all. It is not known whether he was created by other Wise Men to serve his true immortality as a machine, or if he was created by residents of Nede in an experiment along with the other Wise Men.
- Zadkiel (Ruprecht in English original), Raphael (Jibril in English original), and Camael (Nicolus in English original)
- The three guardian Wise Men of the entrance to Phynal Tower.
Star Ocean: Second Evolution is an enhanced port of Star Ocean: The Second Story for the PSP, ported by TOSE. It serves as a sequel to Star Ocean: First Departure. The first details of the game were revealed at the "Star Ocean Special Stage" during the Square Enix Party 2007. Yoshinori Yamagishi, producer of the series, stated that he wants the remakes to feel as though they are completely new games. The game has seen a release in Japan on April 2, 2008, in North America on January 19, 2009, in Australia on February 12, 2009 and in Europe on February 13, 2009.
Second Evolution features new content (many skills were completely remade, as well the combat system being slightly refined), including new playable character. 13 new endings (for a total number of 99–100 endings). Production I.G provided new artwork and animated cutscenes for the game. There are new voice actors and extensive amounts of new, fully voiced dialogue- The opening song is "START", performed by SCANDAL.
Hori, the Japanese game peripheral manufacturer, have unveiled a Second Evolution-branded PSP accessory set to be released alongside the game on April 2, 2008. The kit includes the following: a limited, gray PSP case with the Star Ocean logo, matching headphones, a cell phone strap, and finally, 2 UMD cases to hold both First Departure and Second Evolution games. The kit's release seems to coincide with First Departure Eternal Edition package.
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Star Ocean: The Second Story was a commercial success, having sold approximately 1.09 million copies worldwide, with over 700,000 copies sold in Japan alone and 370,000 copies sold overseas. It was the 13th best-selling game of 1998 in Japan. However, it did not sell enough copies in North America to be rereleased in the Greatest Hits range.
Manga and anime adaptations
A seven-volume manga series was written and illustrated by Mayumi Azuma. Based on the tri-Ace role-playing video game of the same name, it follows the exploits of Claude C. Kenny, a young ensign in the Earth Federation who finds himself stranded on the Planet Expel. He meets Rena Lanford, a young girl living in the village of Arlia who declares that he is the legendary warrior their legends speak of who will save their troubled world from disaster. The series was serialized in Shōnen Gangan, premiering June 22, 1999 and running until December 21, 2001 when it ended without reaching the conclusion of the story.
Studio Deen adapted the manga series into a twenty six episode anime series entitled Star Ocean EX which aired on TV Tokyo from April 3, 2001 until September 25, 2001. The anime series was released to Region 1 DVD by Geneon Entertainment. To complete the story left unfinished by both the manga and anime, five drama CDs were released in Japan, using the same voice actors from the anime series.
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