Top to Bottom: Edge Maverick (SO4), Fayt Leingod (SO3), Claude C. Kenny (SO2), and Roddick Farrence (SO1)
A series of Role Playing Games developed by Tri Ace and published by Square Enix (Enix before the merger). All of them are set in the same universe, a high-tech Space Opera, but all of them spend a significant amount of time focusing on a low-tech, high-magic world. The games are known for their fast-paced, real-time battle system, and for the Private Action system that allows the main character to interact with party members in cutscenes while in towns. These can affect the ending through changing Relationship Values.The games in the series are:
Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The series likes this a lot. In the first and second games, this is justified by the protagonists being on planets protected by an Alien Non-Interference Clause. The third game has the same justification (the protagonist ends up landing on an underdeveloped planet in an escape pod, being rescued by the crew of a ship, then crash landing on another underdeveloped planet and spending a good amount of time there), but halfway through the game you return to "developed" space, and yet many of the protagonists continue to use anachronistic weapons.
Bishounen: In every game. To name just one example from each, there's Ioshua from First Departure, Dias from The Second Story/Second Evolution, Albel from Till the End of Time, Faize from The Last Hope...
Bonus Boss: And how! This series is infamous for the amount of grinding you'll need to engage in if you want to stand a chance against them. The fact that your maximum level in the first three games is 255 doesn't help things.
Cat Girl: The Lesser Fellpool race on the planet Roak and the variety of Fellpool on Expel. (Fellpool on Roak are essentially pointy-eared humans with tails, rather than having cat ears.)
Conflict Killer: Too many to list. There seems to be a veritable revolving door of villains in this series.
Cooldown Manipulation: The games' Fury Gauge denotes how many actions they can take in battle, with the character needing to stand still for it to refill (attacking expends Fury, moving prevents it from refilling). Some skills allow the player to limit Fury use by certain percentages and amounts to pile on more hits.
Doing In the Wizard: Anybody from The Federation in all three games will have a Technobabble explanation for magic — or "symbology" or "heraldry", as it's usually known. For instance, Claude's "Sword of Light"? Actually just his phase gun.
Genre Shift: For a series that's supposed to be set in outer space, you spend an awful lot of time on undeveloped fantasy planets. The fact that the fourth game has space travel as a core gameplay concept could almost be a Genre Shift in and of itself.
Guide Dang It: Could very well be renamed Guide Dang It: The Series due to the sheer amount of stuff (including items, skills, and recruitable characters) that can be missed unless you know exactly what you're doing at any point.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Completely averted in the PSP remakes: no matter what you rename your characters, the voice acting still uses canon names. [The funny thing is that Star Ocean games let you rename your characters from the Status Menu, meaning you can do it any time you want.]
Human Aliens: The series has quite a few of them. Some have wings, some have a third eye on their forehead, some have three black rings around their necks, and some just plain look human, more or less indistinguishable with the humans of Earth. In particular, Cliff's race, the Klausians, are naturally physically stronger than regular Humans, and as such have been limited to what events they can compete in during the Olympics. One thing worth noting is that all these aliens are classified as "Human" as the biological archetype, and from there you get the sub-races, including Earth's own Terrans. (There are also non-human humanoid races, such as the raccoon-like Medonix, that are simply collectively referred to as humanoids.) This makes a lot more sense once certain revelations in the third game are considered.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Somewhat averted. The first two games (especially the enhanced remake) let you surround tough enemies and just beat them up with melees while the mages try to cast their symbology.
Little Bit Beastly: Fellpools are humanlike in appearance, but have heightened senses and tails like cats.
One Steve Limit: Averted: the Ten Wisemen in The Second Story all have angel names, including Lucifer and Gabriel, but the boss of the bonus dungeon in the same game is also named Gabriel. Till the End of Time also has another Lucifer (Luther in the English version), who is of no relation to the one in Second Story. Till the End of Time, at least the Japanese versions, use various demonic names for the Sphere staff (Azazel, Beelzebub, Belial).
The same applies to The Last Hope. Apparently, the names of the Grigori are based on fallen angels from biblical apocrypha.
Optional Party Member: In every Star Ocean game, there are several optional party members; you can have up to 8 characters, and usually 4-6 are permanent, leaving the extra slots to be filled up by a moderately extensive list. Getting some help you get others, and they ultimately affect the outcome and ending.
Power Tattoo: In most cases, use of symbology requires a person to tattoo special symbols on themselves, although carving them into a personal weapon also works.
Spiritual Successor: There are major similarities between Star Ocean and the Tales Series in gameplay and design: real-time battles with combat skills that burn MP, item creation, food-based healing items that heal in percentages, Private Actions / Skits, Relationship Values leading to Multiple Endings, and so on. This is because Star Ocean was created by the company tri-Ace, a company whose founding members are best described as "Basically everyone who designed Tales of Phantasia at Namco."
Star Ocean is also a spiritual successor of Star Trek. A developer mentioned that the Star Ocean series was actually first created with Star Trek as main motivation.
Time Travel: The Guardian allows this. Again, not even bothering to differentiate from Star Trek. However, its function is expanded greatly in the third game.
Time Travel becomes a part of the plot of The Last Hope when a wormhole within a black hole sends the crew back in time to planet Earth in the year 1957. After the crew escapes from Earth as the planet itself is being reduced to antimatter, the crew realizes that the Earth through the wormhole was nothing more than an alternate dimension. Of course, this doesn't make Edge feel any better knowing that handing over the ship's energy core for research to save the future led to the planet's complete destruction. Cue Heroic BSOD.
Title Drop: The Last Hope is very guilty of this for their sub title, though First Departure does it too.
Both of the aforementioned also drop in the term "Star Ocean" during dialogue.
Tsundere: That would be Reimi and Millie of The Last Hope and First Departure, respectively. Both are the canon heroines.
Updated Re-release/Video Game Remake: The first games in the series were released on the PSP, with the first being remade with The Second Story's style and the second being given a more direct port, marking the first release of the first game in the U.S. The fourth game was later released for the PS3 with some new features and characters.
Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: Of the "Optional" variety. You can beat the game without investing a point into any non-combat skills...but if you do invest time into them? You reap the rewards!
Witch Species: While most species require specialized tattoos to use symbology, there are a few that already have the symbols etched into their very DNA. The Featherfolk, Nedians, and Morphus are among these species. Lemurisians occasionally see this happen in a small minority of their women. This also started happening to a small minority of Expellians after they absorbed the remnants of the Nedians.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Unsurprising, given the series' anime-ish style; in fact, at least two party members in every game have literal blue hair, including the male leads of the first and third games.
Possibly justified in the third game, where both characters with blue hair are genetically-engineered weapons.
Similarly justified in the case of alien party members, such as Last Hope's Faize, whose races might have different standards for hair colors.