Video Game: Star Ocean: The Second Story aka: Star Ocean Second Evolution
The second game in the Star Ocean series, Star Ocean: The Second Story, was first released for the PlayStation, and unlike the first game, did get a Western release. A remade for the PlayStation Portable, titled Star Ocean: Second Evolution, was released in early 2009. Claude C. Kenny, son of Ronyx from the first game, is a new ensign in the Pangalactic Federation struggling to remove himself from his famous father's shadow. His first mission, exploring Milokeenia, is directly under Admiral Ronyx's command. He activates a precursor teleporter and ends up stranded on the primitive planet of Expel, where he saves the other main character Rena Lanford from a rampaging monster. Hailed as a prophesied savior, Claude sets off on a quest to find out why things have gotten so bad on Expel recently. But there's more at stake here than just one primitive planet....There was a Game Boy Color sequel to The Second Story entitled Star Ocean: Blue Sphere, that was not released outside of Japan. This was remade for cell phones following the success of the other two remakes.There was also an anime, called Star Ocean EX, which documented the adventures of the cast up until the end of the first half of the game. It was cancelled before it could go any further; the story was later completed with the second half released as a series of five drama CDs. There were quite a few changes to the plot, but the characters and overall structure remained the same. Most of the art direction changes were retained for the PSP remake.
An Economy Is You: Interestingly, there are shops that sell commonplace things, like eggs and diary, seafood, etc, as much as weapon and armor shops.
Anger Born of Worry: Happens halfway through the Disc One Final Dungeon. Not that Claude was actually in any danger; he was just returned to the Calnus. But, when he came back, Rena was certainly steamed...
Arbitrary Gun Power: Precis's normal attacks use a mechanical hand that appears out of her backpack, but the damage depend on her STR. Same for Opera's Killer Moves. It applies the damage modifier to her STR.
Awesome, but Impractical: Many of the higher-level Killer Moves have an overly long startup time, making them easily interrupted or dodged. Probably the worst is Chisato's Missile Strike move, which can take about 6 seconds from activation to damage. Six seconds in which everyone else is still acting, meaning her target is probably dead by the time it hits.
Babies Ever After: Sort of; one of the endings Claude has with Rena state that he's going to be a father in 6 months.
Beauty Is Bad: Gabriel and Lucifer are the most beautiful of the Ten Wise Men. They are also the most evil/crazy.
Well, Zadkiel is alright too, but he just has stuff in his hair.
Big Damn Heroes: The very first battle of the game is this. Claude saving Rena from an attacking moster.
Bittersweet Ending: You saved the entire universe from destruction, and brought Expel back from destruction. Congratulations! Unfortunately, Energy Nede is destroyed completely. This would have been a good thing if not for the fact that they are all very nice people...and the fact that hundreds of millions of innocent people are dead.
Boring, but Practical: It's probable that by the end of the game, you may be using some Killer Moves that you learned well over 20 gameplay hours ago (eg Opera's Alpha-on-One or Bowman's Exploding Pills). Slightly subverted in that, once you use a skill X amount of times, they get upgraded, which is partially why they remain viable. Dias' Chaos Sword will single-handedly get you through everything but the final boss, due to the fact that it's incredibly quick at close range, hits several times, and deals heavy damage with on each of those hits. Also it only burns 1 tech point per use.
For that matter, the best way to defeat the later bosses? Stunlock them and spam these abilities until they die.
Bowdlerized: The PlayStation version of the game came with a fair amount of censorship. All alcoholic beverages that could be brewed and consumed became tea drinks, and any scenes that (intentionally) invoked Ho Yay were clumsily altered.
Calling Your Attacks: Subverted when Claude uses Helmetbreak in Second Evolution: he just lets out a "Haaaaah!" kiai while using it. In the original version, he also shouts "Teeaaar into pieces!!" instead of "Ripper Burst." But basically every other attack in the whole game plays this straight.
Can't Drop The Hero: Notably averted. You can go about 3/4 of the game without even using both Rena and/or Claude.
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : If you pickpocket people while the party is assembled, (ie. you aren't in Private Action mode) your relationship values with everyone will decrease.
Chekhov's Gunman: A subversion, actually. You actually can finish the game without ever knowing anything about Philia and Dr. Lantis, but the story gets richer (and the Final Boss becomes Nintendo Hard) if you pursue this subplot.
The Chosen One: Subverted. Rena mistakes Claude to be the destined Hero of Light, but he makes it clear that he's not. Played painfully straight in the anime, complete with Evolving Weapon.
The game goes back and forth between this and The Unchosen One since while Claude makes it clear that he's not the destined hero of light, he and his party are chosen by Energy Nede to defeat the Ten Wise Men.
Dead Character Walking: Easily doable, just use a Mandrake on each member of your active party, which kills anyone it's used on. The game also has another, far more annoying inversion of this: often later in the game when facing powerful enemies that can easily kill, paralyze or petrify you, you'll end up getting a Game Over right after you use a healing item or spell to cure one of said statuses due to the game not bothering to check if someone's currently in process of being cured from them before declaring the battle lost due to all 4 characters being considered dead at the same time for a brief period of time (ie. a mage casts a status recovery spell and gets killed while it's going off). This means you'll often end up with a freshly-healed character standing there while the battle fades out and you're forced to reload your save.
Plus, one can get the Marvel Sword with 1100 attack so early in the game that most weapons are in the 100-200 range.
There's an item that can be stolen from a character in Mars early in the first disk that spawns three random items. These items can be anything from blueberries and herbs to weapons and armor from late in the second disk, and the contents of the box are selected at random when the box is used, not when it's acquired. A player who's patient enough to get the items necessary for pickpocketing at this point in the game and who's patient enough to reload their save game a lot can potentially get threeDisc One Nukes out of this one item.
This is only the tip of the iceberg for the pickpocketing skill, it can "borrow" not only incredible weapons, but also up to three copies of the 3rd best armor, before the end of Disc 1.
Don't Try This at Home: In one Private Action, Rena accidentally wipes out a computer database in the library in Nede, after saying "Reformat hard drive", and is frustrated when she can't get anything else. The game says, "Gamers -do not try what Claude and Rena just did."
Dream Sequence: Both Rena and Claude get four sequences during the Nede power fields dungeons.
Precis and her father reverse-engineered a piece of alien technology (implied to be Nedian that arrived with the Sorcery Globe) and figured out how to reproduce electricity, robots, and all kinds of other things. As a result, Precis starts with the skills necessary for the Machinist specialty before the game lets anyone else learn them.
Ashton describes himself as unlucky, and in fact he has pretty terrible luck throughout the game...literally, his luck stat is abysmal and doesn't get better.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Fighting Dias in the tournament of arms as Claude, he is completely invulnerable and wipes the floor with your character no matter what, but the characters all comment on what a close match it was.
Global Airship: Subverted. The Open The Sandbox moment happens when you get the Psynard, who isn't a ship, but a living giant bird. The last adult wild one of it's species, no less.
Good Luck Charm: Ashton likes to collect lucky charms, especially after having been possessed by the two dragons on his back.
Guide Dang It: Oh, you accidentally talked to a crazy lady twice? Hope you wanted to fight Gabriel with his limiter off for a final boss then. To be fair, it's actually quite easy to miss talking to her either time. It's actually more of a Guide Dang It since you have to catch the girl once in an easily missable scene that's Lost Forever if you don't, and the second time by backtracking out of the final dungeon from the last save point and tracking her down in a town.
Party member recruitment is like this too. You can turn anyone down, recruiting one person may make you unable to recruit someone else (eg Ashton vs. Opera), and two characters simply do not make themselves available if you are playing with the wrong main character (when the PSP remake added anime cutscenes, they simply chose not to depict anyone but Claude and Rena).
Did you forget to pick up that one sword after the Inevitable Tournament? Or did it suck so much compared with what you have that you sold it? Oh well, I guess you don't get the Disc One Nuke listed above.
Good luck in figuring out how the Relationship Values actually work in-game, and by extension, how to get certain endings. This is especially bad for characters that have painfully few Private Actions and Dias in particular who has none.
Heroic Sacrifice: Nall, the mayor of Nede's Centropolis, planned for the Symbol of Divinity/Crest of Enhancement to direct the power of the Symbol/Crest of Annihilation onto Energy Nede, knowing fully well that the planet's Energy Field is the only force strong enough to stop the Symbol/Crest of Annihilation, although at the cost of Energy Nede itself being destroyed in the process. He believes that it's a way for the Nedians to atone for the sins that they have committed so long ago. Nall even made sure that Claude and co. would never find out until the last moment, and made Noel and/or Chisato (if they are in the party) swear that they keep their mouths shut about the whole plan.
Hopeless Boss Fight: The most infuriating of these is easily when Claude has to fight Dias in the Tournament of Arms. The game plays Dias up as being an amazing swordsman and forces Claude to lose, but when you actually get him (which you can't if you're playing as Claude), you find out that he has only a few good special moves and a slow-as-hell melee attack, making him one of the least useful fighters in the game.
Though in the remake, they are called Goodie Box, instead of Treasure Chest.
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: In Fun City, there's a little fence circling the Gift Shop, that you can't get past it. Lacuer Castle City and Krosse Castle City also have a little circular fence on the entrance that you can't jump it.
Interface Spoiler: During the mission wherein Ashton wants to get rid of the dragons on his back, certain fights can have him talk affectionately to both of them, which all but spoil the fact that he's not going to get rid of them any time soon.
Generally played straight. You sell items for a quarter of their retail price, but a certain skill can increase this by 30%.
A noteworthy inversion occurs in the Bonus Dungeon via the infamous "Ripping Off Santa" trick. You can buy Sage's Stones from Santa for 50,000 FOL, then immediately sell them back to him for the same price, and if you have the above skill, you can sell them back for up to 65,000 FOL each.note There is no limit on how often you can do this, either.
Killer Bunny: One random encounter you can find is a Teddy Bear. A ridiculously fast Teddy Bear.
Kleptomaniac Hero: One of the only games that actually punishes you for stealing, in the form of relantionship decreases with everyone in the group.
Last Chance Hit Point: Party members can survive otherwise lethal attacks with one HP remaining. This chance is proportional to the character's Guts stat, and there's no limit to the number of times a character can survive this way, willing their way out of a barrage of otherwise lethal attacks.
Last of His Kind: Rena, Noel, and Chisato are the last Nedians alive. Made even worse if you don't recruit Noel so their race will go extinct. The third game's dictionary reveals that Noel and Chisato's descendants at least were absorbed by the Expellians.
Law of Cartographical Elegance: Played straight and subverted. When you get to Virtual Expel on Disc 2, it is played straight. Energy Nede on the other hand is subverted because the world is actually just an asteroid amidst an energy mass floating in a corner of the universe.
That said, mages aren't there for damage output, but to prevent enemy mages from casting. The damage cap may be 9999, but so is your hit point cap. That means enemy mages can take off a very large chunk of your health if not wipe you entirely before you can close with them (especially if enemy fighters are in the way). Your mages are there to prevent that by cutting them off with weaker but quicker spells.
Meaningful Name: Nede backwards is Eden which is totally appropriate considering how backwards Energy Nede is anyway. Then there's the ocean base L'Aqua, the place where you fight the final boss, Fienal/Phynal, the theme park-esque Fun City, the university city Linga, the armed-to-the-teeth weapon-factory city of Armlock, the +-shaped Krosse Continent, second university town Princebridge (Princeton meets Cambridge).
A Million Is a Statistic: Played with the Bittersweet Ending below example below. One billion people died with the destruction of Expel, according to the reading on the Calnus. The population on Energy Nede is the same as the one when it was created with the destruction of Nede, after the population was decimated by the war with the Ten Wise Men, meaning it was cut down to about 5 to 10 millions. The Nedians put it on the balance this too when they decided to do their Heroic Sacrifice.
Modern Stasis: Nede, flying far past absurdity into transcendent realms of impossibility. Its history stretches back longer than the existence of any kind of life on Earth. An annual fighting tournament had been going on for 35 million years already when the dinosaurs went extinct. The cultural stagnation and genetic manipulation to achieve this kind of recognizable continuity from ancient Nede to modern is both staggering and terrifying. Even Rena was born before anything recognizably hominid appeared on Earth, and Nedians from her time and Nedians in the present day look exactly the same. If this was about distance in space rather than in time, then Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale wouldn't even begin to cover it. It's not entirely unintentional either. Not being able to evolve any further is why Nall and Mirage are willing to wipe out their own species.
My Greatest Failure: Dias blames himself for not being strong enough to save his parents and sister from being murdered by bandits.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: You know Rena's pendant? It's actually the key to destroying the world, and your team brings it straight to where it needs to go. Although to be fair, just having it on the planet already sped things up by centuries.
Actually subverted. When encountering Philia the second time, she asks the party to kill her before Gabriel finds her. Gabriel did get to her before Claude/Rena could fulfill her request. Activating the Private Action removed the limiter, but it's only because of the main characters' hesitation, and not of any direct action.
On a more hilarious note, this is why Ashton got the two dragons grafted on his back in the first place.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: In the game, Funny Thiefs are mostly generic level 1 enemies. Dias' flashback, however, shows them killing his parents and sister. Also, they return in more stronger forms in Cave of Trials as Thief lvl. 99 and Metal Thief.
They can even be a threat in regular gameplay. If you choose Rena as your main character on one of the higher difficulties, they can very easily one-shot her, making it pretty much impossible to level up before fighting the first boss since she's alone and they usually come in large groups.
Now, Where Was I Going Again?: A random party member tells you where you are supposed to be headed whenever you leave a town after a Private Action.
One-Winged Angel: Alen, the first boss fight in the game and the Symbologist from the Marz village rescue mission. Both transform into monsters during the battle, though Alen got better after the battle.
Orwellian Editor / Orwellian Retcon: An in-universe example. When the party first arrives on Energy Nede, Mayor Narl of Central City explains who the Ten Wise Men are, how they came to be, and what their objective is. He also mentions that the Nede of 3.7 billion years ago was a "nearly ideal form of government" in symbiotic harmony with other planets, and that Nede was sealed off to allow other planets a chance to grow and develop. This is all a lie fabricated by the Nedian Government of that time period, and a certain sidequest can be undertaken to expose what really happened.The truth 3.7 billion years ago, many planets launched rebellions against Nede to wrestle control from them; to put down the rebellions, the Ten Wise Men were created. Due to the deception by the Nedian Government regarding the death of his daughter, the principal scientist of the project, Dr. Lantis, changed their objective from "subjugation of the outer territories" to "domination of the universe" and superimposed his consciousness onto the final Wise Man, Gabriel / Indalecio. The Nedian Defense Force defeated the Ten Wise Men, but lost much of their strength in doing so; what was left was not enough to combat the rebellions, and the rebelling planets took advantage of this. As a last ditch effort to save themselves, the Nedians sealed themselves off behind a Class 9 Energy Shield, forever shutting themselves off from the outside world. On top of all of this, the fourth game heavily implies that the Nedians had to deal with an internal schism on top of everything else, leading to creation of a splinter group that refused to seal themselves with the rest of their people and instead created their own artificial planetoid and set themselves up as galactic guardians.
You will fight Shin three times. The first battle is a Hold the Line fight where you must survive one minute in-battle. The second is a Hopeless Boss Fight where one must lose to advance the plot; in both of these fights, Shin has infinite defense and his attack power is greatly increased. In the third fight, he can be damaged, and his strength is reduced to manageable levels, allowing the party to finally defeat him.
Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Most of The Ten Wise Men are named after apostles or angels. Examples include Gabriel, Lucifer, and Metatron. Bowdlerized in the North American PS1 version.note Their names are Indalecio, Cyril, and Berle, respectively.
Schizo Tech: Precis has a completely autonomous robot. And big punchy robot arm things. On a medieval world which doesn't even have electricity anywhere else. Semi-justified in narrative as she and her father found a strange object that fell from the sky which they reverse-engineered, figuring out the basics of a lot of technology as a result.
Schrödinger's Player Character: Averted. Whichever character you don't pick in the beginning winds up in your party, is still a main character, and is an available love interest.
Shared Family Quirks: A few of Claude's specials (such as Meteor Palm) were used by Illia back in the first game, and he also shares her habit of rating the party's performance on a scale of one to ten after a battle. Both traits further support the theory that she is his mother.
Show Some Leg: Pick Opera in the Fun City Arena for Bullying Battle, and she'd try to show her legs to prove she's a woman, when the announcer says "Battle between men and men".
Opera: "Can't you see these shapely legs!? I'm a woman!"
Star Power: Among its overload of elements, there's "Star" as distinct from both "Light" and "Vacuum" (which itself is distinct from "Void"). Most of the Star-elemental spells get cast by Celine. In the remake, Star elemental spells were lumped in with the Light element.
Stepford Smiler: As shown in one flashback, Claude was this in his Academy days.
Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: While the Ten Wise Men from seek to rule the Universe as their primary goal, Gabriel/Indalecio figures that if he cannot rule, he will destroy everything. The Crest/Symbol of Annihilation is set to activate with the expiration of his life force, which is designed to bring about the end of everything by generating sufficient mass-energy to collapse the universe into a Big Crunch.note Thankfully diverted by countermeasures devised by the Nede Defense Force
The whole "Claude is the Hero of Light" thing is pretty much dropped within two hours of the game. Literally two towns make a big deal about it, and its only ever brought up again as a rather rare post battle taunt. And after the phaser burns out, you never hear about that again, either.
Not so in the anime where Leon is inexplicably able to repair it. Claude only fires it one time after that, but one has to wonder how Leon figured out technology centuries beyond his own and how such a huge laser could only do about 700 damage in the game.
Averted with a rather large (if technically optional) aspect of the first part of the game which involves you finding an ancient text in Cross Cave and showing it to a linguist named Keith. Keith finally takes it and begins studying it, but before you learn anything about it, the world explodes. It's later revealed in Bowman's solo ending that the text is a myth about an "ancient paradise" called Nede.
What the Hell, Hero?: A silent example happens in the gameplay mechanics. Any character who makes use of the Pickpocketing ability with the party assembled will have their Relationship Values trashed. In the remake, this happens even in private actions.
"Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Depending on how your characters' relationship values align with each other, any of up to 87 possible endings will play, showing little snippets of their lives after the game has concluded. There are solo endings for each character, between one and three endings for each pair of characters, and a secret ending where the whole party gets back together if all the characters each like each other enough.
You All Look Familiar: Even some plot relevant characters have the same sprite as common folks, like Marianna.