GameSpite Journal 10: Star Ocean

Here in the back pages of GameSpite Journal 10, we’re in frightful late-Super-NES-era territory, where content is more often than not Japan-exclusive. So many complicated pictographic symbols to master! Reverse grammar order! Particles! No denotation for plurals! My goodness.

Here is one of those Japan-exclusive games: Star Ocean. Which I guess isn’t entirely Japan-exclusive now that it’s come out in English on PSP. Although I think everyone ignored that version, so Enix was probably smart not to bother localizing it back in the day. I know we import fans tend to take it personally when games go untranslated, but our collective apathy when things actually work in our favor has a tendency to prove that conservatism right.

13 thoughts on “GameSpite Journal 10: Star Ocean

  1. It’s also possible that the dearth of late-era SNES RPG localization created a market that had less interest in the titles. How did Final Fantasy IV DS do? If people bought it, it’s not as likely because they didn’t get to play it before, but because they did.

    That is to say, if no-one bought Star Ocean for PSP, maybe it’s because no-one had any 16-bit nostalgia for it.

    When I think of Star Ocean, I think of my earliest days on the Internet trawling for fan translations and an emulator that could render the thing. Even that bit of disconnected nostalgia makes me want to get it… if only I had a PSP.

  2. Two things: what are these changes that Namco insited be added to Phantasia the article alludes to? And how is the Star Ocean remake? I’ve almost picked it up two or three times but keep backing out because I’ve heard it brings the game more inline with Star Ocean 2, and Star Ocean 2 is kinda a poopy butt.

    • Yeah, I’d pin a lot of poor SO sales on people having seen the sequels and knowing what they’re in for. An SNES release when nobody knew the mediocrity lurking around the corner would have done just fine! Especially if we’re only looking at a percentage of the RPG playing market which was way smaller back then… so yeah.

    • Namco had the original title of “Tale Phantasia” changed to “Tales of Phantasia” and called for some character designs to be arbitrarily revised. I recall there are some characters whose sprites don’t match their artwork due to this (and were “fixed” in the PS remake). There were probably plenty of other alterations, too.

      Also, man, I’d totally forgotten that tri-Ace was made from ex-Wolfteam members. It’s crazy to think people who worked on fossils like Valis and El Viento have still been working in relevance long out of the early ’90s.

    • Kishi got some of it, but there are a buttload of Namco references and homages inserted into the game (the Valkyrie/Gungnir sequence is probably the biggest one, along with the hero’s ultimate armor set and several of the accessories).

    • The remake makes the game actually playable (the battle system works, Item Creation works, Private Actions are more numerous and actually work), but it makes a lot of… odd changes. Towns are now about ten times larger than they need to be, they replaced the awesome-looking Secret of Mana-esque world map with a dull empty polygon one like in SO2 (80% of the game is walking from one location to the next, so you can see how this might be a problem), the prerendered backgrounds look weirdly realistic when compared to the blurry, lowdef, brightly colored character sprites…

  3. Hi Jeremy,

    A little off-topic but I wanted to ask you if you were thinking into publishing the GameSpite Journals in EPUB format? I did buy number 1 to 4 hardcover prints but as I tend to move a lot for my job I’d love being able to order the next issues for my eBook reader instead. I know I can easily access all the content on the website, but I do believe in paying for quality content and I like the book/journal layout better.

    Thanks for considering my comment.
    K-Mi, France.

  4. Back in 1996 I was amazed to discover an import game shop in central Florida that had Star Ocean along with Tales of Phantasia, Dragon Quest VI and Seiken 3. Each sold for either $120 or $140. I’m not sure who bought them, and the place went out of business the next year. Sigh!

  5. That the PSP version was largely ignored is sad. I loved the second game, and recreating the first game within the framework of the second was a win all around for me.

    • I picked up SO for the PSP and didn’t stick with it; not bad, just a little bland. I hear the sequel’s better? (Well, that guy a few posts above doesn’t think so, but…)

      • The sequel’s a bit better in the sense that the location designs have that late-90s PSX-era whimsy to it, instead of the rather generic “It is a fantasy town” you see in SO PSP.

        It’s pretty bland though!

  6. I’m a fan of all of the SO games (except for the third because I haven’t played it) and recently checked out the original via emulator. The really dig the sci-fi elements and the battle system and the games seem to retain the same charm that made all of the 16-bit RPGs so wonderful.

    That said, yeah, the game is pretty broken. A combination of emulator instability and a clearly rushed game (like someone said before — Item Creation doesn’t really work, and what part of it does is mostly useless) makes it extremely hard to get through at times. But there’s something there, definitely, and it sounds like the PSP version fixed everything. I wish it didn’t look EXACTLY like SO2, especially because the SNES version was very beautiful… but eh, what’re ya gonna do. The story takes some pretty interesting, mysterious turns, so it’s worth a play through in any form.

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