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on March 31, 2009
Star Ocean strikes again, this time accompanying the very first Star Ocean, which was never released to North America. Those returning to this game will find the game they remembered. Newcomers will find an enormous RPG, full of continents to explore, hundreds of enemies to vanquish, and an engaging storyline to digest.

In the previous adventure (First Departure, also for PSP), four heroes banished evil from their continuum and restored peace to their separate worlds. Now, Ronyx's son, Claude, is unintentionally sent to a primitive planet, Expel, upon investagation of a barren plane. There, he meets a young girl, Rena, an odd looking villager with mysterious healing powers. He soon learns that her world is in danger.

Before his arrival on Expel, a shimmering meteorite slammed into Expel. With its coming came forth hordes of monsters that rampaged the surface. Claude, after using a light gun, is proclaimed by Rena's village to be the "Hero of Light," the one who is destined to deliver them from this evil invasion. Soon, Rena and Claude depart on their great adventure to put a stop to, not only sinister creatures overtaking Expel, but to a divine conspiracy that has silently raged for centuries and centuries.

In your journey, you will meet up to ten different characters, whom you can choose to accompany you on your mission, including three secret ones and many who can be added at the price of another. Another feature unique to the Star Ocean series is Item Creation. Here, you can do almost anything you can think of: create your own custom weapons, cook delicious food, conduct alchemy to make precious stones out of iron, and forge jewelry.

The battles themselves are also rather exclusive to the series. It's in real time: there's no polite attacking in this game. You and your battle party are free to roam the battle area as you see fit, whether if it's to close in on an enemy or to gain distance between you and your attacker so you can summon a spell. Leveling up is a huge part of this game, so be prepared to do a lot of it. When you leave one area and go to another on the World Map, you may suddenly find yourself 10 levels behind your enemies --- not a good place to find yourself. With every level up you get, you also get money (FOL, as it's called here), experience points, and something else special: Skill Points.

See, with the whole Item Creation idea, you need to do several things before you can gain skills. First, you need to buy the sets in various towns in the Skill Guild. Then, you need to gain enough skill points to level up your chosen character in the skill you want he/she to have. When you accumulate enough skills, you learn a Specialty. It sounds quite complicated, but it's really quite simple when you get into the menu.

Another good thing I found about this version of the game. The voice actors are incredible: it really brought something new to the game, a charm it didn't have before. Most were improved greatly from the PSOne actors. It's not a buy-or-not feature, but it was a new delight to a returning lover of this game.

Bottom line? If you're at all like me, and you played this game so much, so religiously, that you actually wore out the PSOne discs, buy this game. If you have never heard of Star Ocean, and if you love RPGs, and if you don't want to miss out on one of the most epic games out there, I would give serious thought to picking this up.
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on July 24, 2010
I played Star Ocean: The Second Story for the PS1 way back when I was ten or so. It was my first RPG experience and will always have a special place in my heart no matter how fancy-schmancy current games are (and I love eye-candy as much as anyone). So when I heard about a port for the PSP I couldn't resist. It also gave me a chance to reevaluate this game through the eyes of a more experienced me as opposed to the nostalgic memories as a 10 year old.

Storywise, the plot isn't incredibly compelling. The connections and reasons between going from place to place are pretty contrived. The real reason I chug through the story is the characters. I have met just about every character and they all have something unique and interesting to learn about(except maybe Noel, but more on that later).Heck, one's an unlucky dragon-slayer with a pair of dragons possessing him. Another's a journalist with a stun gun and mad martial arts skills. It's the interactions with the different characters you recruit that kept the game going as opposed to the "what's going on? Oh, we need to save the world" thing.

gameplaywise, it's pretty good, although it obviously lacks the prettiness and strategic depth of newer Star Ocean releases. Fights are real time, you only actively control 1 character at a time and only 4 of your characters are on the field. those that you aren't actively controlling are controlled by a fairly competent AI. I never had any problems with the Ally AI.

In playing through, I'm realizing just how much mashing of the X button I do. The triple hitting (a new gameplay mechanic that let's you do three regular melee hits in quick succession) makes the game seem a bit easy. It also places an even greater amount of reliance on fighters rather than mages. Fighters learn special abilities as you level up but most of them are either useless or only as good as regular attacks. Mages have offensive, support or healing spells, depending on the character. The offensive mages are useful in the early game but as mentioned previously, they will tend to get overshadowed by fighters during the mid to late game. The only mage you will consistently use is Rena (healer) because she can eventually heal or revive the whole party at once. The only other healer is Noel but by the time you get him he will be way worse than Rena and his offensive abilities are laughable compared to the offensive mages.

So ,yeah, character balance is a bit of an issue. But as unbalanced as it is, I still love to fight the battles and mess around controlling the different characters and seeing what they can do. I have yet to get to the end of this version, but hopefully the fights will eventually be more difficult then the stuff I'm dealing with now.

when you're not fighting, you can learn skills to do item creation( make weapons/armor, jewelry or food), summon birds that will bring you items (always handy in a dungeon), pickpocket, and a bunch of other things. You can also do Private Actions in the towns to see how the character interact and are always fun to watch.

graphics are essentially the same as the PS1 which isn't really a complaint as it still looks good to me. My only complaint is the new character pop-ups that show up in the bottom corners whenever a particular character speaks. Half the fun for me when I was playing the original was that I could imagine how those sprites on the screen really looked like or what their facial expressions would be. The character pop-ups kinda stole that pleasure by using a fixed set of images per character (minor characters only get one image) to try to match the emotion of their dialogue. Sometimes the expression doesn't quite match the tone of the script, which throws me off a little. But whatever, it's really not that big a deal and probably won't bother anyone not me, but I do wish there was an option to turn off the character pop-ups.

Sound is pretty much identical to the original. The original had a great soundtrack and I'm glad they kept it. The new addition to this version is the voice-acting. I think they did a pretty good job for most characters and the characters can, for the most part, convey the emotions from the script well enough for me to suspend my disbelief. While, again, I miss being able to imagine what they sounded like, the voice-acting is good enough that I don't really mind the change.

Overall, fighting is unbalanced and on the easy side but still fun to play through and seeing what all your recruits can do. SKills and Private actions give you some fun distractions to tinker with. Overall plot is pretty generic. characters are a blast to follow throughout the story. graphics and sound are the same as the orginal with some new additions that I think most will enjoy. I'd recommend this to anyone who likes JRPG's with an emphasis on character development and item creation or wants a new battle system to try out. It's also not a bad way for those not familiar with JRPG's to get into the genre as I did.
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on July 20, 2014
The PlayStation Portable has become a popular home for ports of RPGs from previous console generations, not to mention the occasional remake, as was the case with Star Ocean: First Departure, a remake of the original Star Ocean for the Super Famicom. Square-Enix eventually followed it up with an enhanced port of the game's sequel, originally for the PlayStation, entitled Star Ocean: Second Evolution, which saw its North American release at the beginning of 2009. Whereas the original PlayStation version had its share of localization issues, thanks to Sony, the PlayStation Portable version mercifully resolves these problems, resulting in a fresh, solid experience.

The sequel opens with Claude C. Kenny, son of Admiral Ronyx J. Kenny (and, while never explicitly stated, Ilia Silvestri, with whom he shares his looks, fighting abilities, and habit of "scoring" battles), exploring the planet Milokeenia with his father, where a mysterious force sends him to the distant planet of Expel. Here, Claude rescues a native girl, Rena Lanford, and is speculated to be the fabled Hero of Light, beginning an exploration of a meteor known as the Sorcery Globe, likely responsible for a plague of monsters on the planet, and ultimately engaging in a cosmic battle with a group of villains known as the Ten Wise Men.

Second Evolution uses pretty much the exact same randomly encountered real-time battle and item creation systems as First Departure. Battles are generally fast-paced, though mildly marred by unskippable spell animations, not to mention the slight delay in item use and their actual execution, and the item creation system works as well, in spite of the high failure rate without the Orchestra Super Specialty skill. Enemies with breath attacks can easily massacre the player's characters, though in these cases, skills that launch characters off the ground can really help. Ultimately, a fun battle system.

Interaction is also almost exactly the same as in First Departure, although later in the game, Claude acquires transportation other than his feet, allowing for easy conveyance among visited areas. The game does a nice job telling players how to advance, shopping and outfitting characters is easy, and coupled with the PlayStation Portable's built-in pause and quicksave, Second Evolution is largely the epitome of user-friendly, in spite of retaining the archaic JRPG convention of save points, which only really hurts during the tough extra dungeon.

The first Star Ocean sequel largely built upon its predecessor's real-time combat and item creation systems, bequeathing other features like Private Actions, albeit with some tweaks such as Super Specialty Skills and explorable overworlds. The sequel itself would greatly influence its predecessor's remake as well, and ultimately, the original Star Ocean 2 kept the franchise sufficiently fresh.

Given the improved translation, Second Evolution's story is naturally more coherent than in the PlayStation version, with an endearing cast of characters and different endings depending upon which characters the player recruited and which Private Actions they viewed throughout the game. Claude and Rena in particular get the blunt of character development during the game, and as with before, little time is spent in the franchise's titular Star Ocean. Even so, the story still serves its purpose.

The soundtrack by Motoi Sakuraba is still nice as it was in the PlayStation version, with standout tracks including many town themes and a few boss fights theme. Voice acting is also present during most cutscenes, in addition to that in combat, which, despite some occasional inconsistencies in performance, is a sure step above the original version's janitorial staff-quality voicework.

The graphics are also the same as they were in the original Star Ocean 2, albeit with some new anime cutscenes and character designs, which look nice, alongside the photorealistic prerendered environments and 2-D character sprites, all of which look even sharper on the PlayStation Portable. The overworlds still look bland, with plenty of fade-in, but Second Evolution still looks superb.

Finally, the sequel is about a twenty-to-forty-hour game, with content such as the extra Maze of Tribulations padding out playing time. All in all, Star Ocean: Second Evolution is undoubtedly one of the best RPG ports, given the improvements in its translation and voice acting, alongside features that were already solid in the original version such as combat, the music, and graphics. Both those who enjoyed First Departure and fans of the original version of the game will likely relish at the chance to play the definitive version of the first Star Ocean sequel.

The Good:
+Solid battle and item creation systems.
+Much-improved translation.
+Nice cast of characters with multiple endings.
+Sounds and looks fantastic.

The Bad:
-Some missable characters.
-Not enough time spent in titular Star Ocean.
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on December 16, 2009
Having played the PSone version of Star Ocean 2 about 6 years ago, I have to say that this PSP version is far superior to it. Barring the voice acting (which you're either gonna love or hate), the graphics are overhauled for this version. the spells don't lag and are less pixelated in this version. The anime cut scenes enhance the storyline overall, and this story is deeper, darker, and more involved than First departure (and it still has multiple endings).

I'll admit that the story starts off really slowly. To speed things up, you wanna make sure you enable the ability to click through spoken dialogue since you can probably read faster than they can talk. Choosing between Claude and Rena changes the perspective of the story, and allows you to recruit unique characters for each one. Picking Claude if you're new is a good bet since his perspective provides more background information on the story (and also allows you to pickpocket valuable armor more often during the game). The features that were great in First Departure are included in this one (like the ability to melee attack 3 times in succession by hitting the x button).

Some character recruitment is complicated, and recruiting great characters like Opera prevent you from recruiting other great characters like Ashton, but these characters are far superior to the one's in First departure. They wield unique weapons with devastating techniques. The melee attack feature also improves other characters like Ernest and Dias from the PSone version. A definite drawback to me though is how you improve techniques (assigned to the L and R buttons) in this game. Each time you use a move, it increases it's proficiency by 1, and greater proficiency means a stronger and more devastating attack. The problem is that it often takes a ridiculously high number to max out a move's potential, which makes it so you have to level grind and really retracts from the flow of the game overall (unless you don't care about maximizing the strength of a technique).

A word of caution though: pickpocketing too much (even when you are in a private action) changes the ending you can get. Only pickpocket the most important items (such as rare armor or weapons or bunny shoes). Other than that, 2 perspectives on the storyline enhances replay ability (so you can try out all the recruitable characters and see which ones you enjoy most). There are ways to make the final boss really difficult but I would just refer to an online strategy guide if you're intrigued. The game has it's flaws, but it's easy to pick up and play and the button mashing free-for-all it leans towards is more fast paced than a traditional RPG. I would recommend it for any Star Ocean fans, and for any modern RPG fans since this battle style seems like it's being phased into newer Final Fantasy games.
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on December 17, 2014
I played this game back on PS1 when I was growing up. I must have put over 300 hours into it. This is a fantastic remake. I love all of the cut scenes and the voice overs. Great live action combat system for those RPG lovers who are tired of the turn based battles.
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on November 27, 2013
So I consider myself an RPG veteran so here's my thoughts. I had previously played the game on the PS1 and loved it.


Customization - There is ALOT to customize in this game. And the skill system is great. You can literally do LOTS of things with your characters. If you learn the system--you can game it to make your characters OP.

The OST - The soundtrack for this game is fantastic. It fits the mood of the game perfectly. Check out the tracks Venerable Forest or Moderate. I see some other players complaining about some of the music being reused but I think thats perfectly fine. In fact, I missed some of the town themes in the later parts of the game and am glad I was able to hear them again.

The Setting - The artistic visions and the overall setting is fantastic. I'm a huge sci-fi/fantasy nerd and loved it. High tech military officer transported to a technologically inferior planet? Love it.

Characters - Characters are another strong point. There are plenty of characters and they have attractive stories. I also like how you can play the game from one of two perspectives, Rena or Claude. Each one has their own set of unique private actions (which are when your characters all enter a city by themselves).

Minor Cons:

Story - Story is good, but it does jump around some times. I felt it was rushed toward the ends as well.

Grinding - There is some grinding needed at the end of the game but if you learn the game system, you can bypass it quite easily. Example: I gained 15 levels on all my characters in about 10 minutes.

Button Mashing - There is some button mashing. Lots of bosses come down to whether or not you can keep them dazed (stunned).

Final Verdict - It's a worthy playthrough. As I get older, I am transitioning more and more to mobile gaming--and this is a solid JRPG for that platform. JRPGs are losing popularity with the rise of the american RPGs but I still think you should give it a shot.

Port Edits: The port to the PSP added beautiful anime scenes but added MANDATORY VOICE ACTING. I am upset there is no option to turn off voice acting. I really don't like hearing Claude like a little woman sometimes.

I ordered this game on July 31st for $28.12. I got a total of about 25 hours out of it. So i'm pretty close to my gold standard of $1 per hour of entertainment.
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on August 26, 2011
This is a fantastic remake of an already great game. The additions of the super specialties and improvements with voice acting really polish what was already a near-mirror shine. If offers some of the best that the action/JRPG genre can. Fans of the later entries in the series or just the genre in general will find it to be one of the best.

With that said, I feel that Star Ocean: First Departure was the superior of the two PSP remakes. However this one is by no means a disappointment.
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on May 10, 2014
I am a major Star Ocean Fan so ive been getting every star ocean game possible and when I saw the price on this game I just had to buy it. Once it got here it was in perfect condition no scratches or anything and great seller packaging to keep it safe. Shipped fast and no problems at all with it A+++++ defiantly advise buying from this seller
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on July 3, 2016
Nostalgic, i played this on the ps1 and now playing the updated Port on the Psp now its basically the same game with minor tweaks but i recommend this because its much more difficult to get the classic ps1 version. Psp version has updated character graphic designs and new voice acting like i said minor tweaks
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on January 22, 2013
Star Ocean: Second Evolution is one of the greatest RPG's you'll ever find, and easily makes the PSP worth a buy.

The reason this one is much better than First Departure(Which is still fantastic, mind you) is because the characters and emotion is just all there. The plot, unlike the first one, is much more understandable and not jumbled up and confused. You can feel much more of a connection to each character, and the difficulty of the game is just perfect.

This game will last you a long time, with optional characters and two stories to choose from. I was about level 90 before completing the game. :)
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