Video Game: Star Ocean: Till the End of Time aka: Star Ocean 3
The third game in the Star Ocean series, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is set 400 years after the events of Star Ocean: The Second Story. Fayt Leingod, an ordinary college student, is vacationing on a resort planet which suddenly gets attacked by aliens. A few escapes later, his escape pod crash lands on an undeveloped planet, he gets rescued by a member of La Résistance, they crash on another undeveloped planet, and they get caught up in local politics. The repercussions of the alien attack, and the reasons for it, are going to catch up with Fayt again....Till the End of Time is (in)famous for the huge plot twist that comes about halfway through the story that completely changes the scope of not just the game, but the entire series itself.
This video game provides examples of:
Action Girl: Maria Traydor, Nel Zelpher, Peppita Rossetti, and Mirage Koas.
Aerith and Bob: On one hand, you have names like Fayt, Peppita, Albel. Then you have ordinary names like Roger and Maria. It's even more hilarious when you realize Roger is the one who would be most out-of-place on modern Earth.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In a truly bizarre inversion, you and your entire party. You and the entire universe are just data from the perspective of the Fourth Dimensional beings that created you.
Arbitrary Skepticism: The respected scientists researching the Time Gate, who study magic for a living and have the event recorded on video, think people won't believe them when the Time Gate warned them of extra-dimensional beings coming to destroy them.
And music, higher difficulty levels, and other simple little rewards.
Autobots, Rock Out!: After a dozen or two hours of gameplay and story, the final boss of Disc 1 is Crosell, a massive dragon whose feet dwarf the player characters. His battle theme is "The Divine Spirit of Language", featuring a fast-paced electric guitar riff which very much does the battle justice.
Awesome, but Impractical: Many of the most damaging Battle Skills have an overly long startup time, and said moves also tend to have high capacity point costs that limit what other moves can be used alongside them. For instance, Max Shockwave is one of the key skills of Cliff, as well as Maria's Energy Burst. Also, Fayt's Dimension Door attack was so overpowered in the original Japanese version that the designers nerfed it for the Director's Cut/overseas version; and it's still one of his more useful attacks.
Awesome Mc Cool Name: Fayt Leingod. Imagine people calling him that with a straight face when he was just an ordinary college student. This is even moreso in the Japanese version, where his name is actually spelled Fate Linegod.
Awesomeness Induced Amnesia: During the war between Aquaria and Airyglyph, a Vendeeni ship appears out of the sky and begins to lay waste to the warring kingdoms. After seeing the wanton devastation and learning that the Vendeeni wish to capture him, Fayt unleashes his Destruction power to delete the ship from existence. The physical and mental trauma of the act leave him unable to remember how this happened.
Badass Grandpa: Adray. Technically, he's a dad, but he sure looks more like a grandpa; plus, if his interactions with his daughter are any indication, he's trying to become one.
Baleful Polymorph: Masques and Masque Kings temporarily turn their enemies into vegetables or pastries.
Best Friends In Law: Adray attempts something like this in his ending by trying to convince Fayt to marry Clair. Fayt thinks that it would be too weird, and from the sound effects heard in the ending, it's implied that Clair probably agrees, orelse...
BFG: Subverted by Maria, who despite using a small pistol, can fire one heck of a laser beam.
Big "NO!": Fayt screams one after Ameena dies right after Dion dies.
Bonus Feature Failure: The two bonus characters in the Director's Cut/overseas versions may count. Adray is really just a less capable wizard (a spot already filled by Sophia) with a weapon set nearly identical to Albel's, while Mirage uses effectively the same attack set and playstyle as Cliff (with a couple of Maria's moves thrown in) but is 40-50 levels lower. The player has the option to gain Adray early into the game when he would be at a similar level to the party, but if you opt to gain him at the next opportunity (much later near the end of the game), he'll still be at that level (Level 19 when the party is roughly 55-70).
Adray does have a use though when you can first get him. He's a dedicated spell caster, which you are lacking in, as Sophia doesn't join until much later in the game and Nel only has a handful of spells. In fact, Nel's Symbology was added in the Director's Cut/overseas versions. In the original version, you had no magic users at all until the game was 60 percent over.
Magikarp Power: Mirage can be a pretty strong character if the player has enough patience to work with her. She gets Maria's Triple Kick attack, among other things, and she has higher MP than Cliff, making her somewhat less prone to MP death.
Boring, but Practical: Fayt's Side Kick. It's one of the first abilities he learns, and is pretty much exactly as it sounds like. However, it's cheap to cast in terms of both Fury and HP, has low capacity point requirements, grants invincibilty during its animation, and chains into itself easily for a sustained 200% damage boost. Chances are that this is going to go into both of Fayt's close-range killer move slots as soon as you get it, and will stay there through the Bonus Dungeons.
Boyfriend Bluff: Interestingly inverted when Fayt, in order to get away from an unwanted admirer, claims that Sophia is actually his girlfriend. She immediately begins to babble in embarrassment, but Fayt begs her to play along with it, which she does. Afterward, she reassures him that she didn't exactly mind since she doesn't totally despise him.
Bread and Circuses: This seems to be why Luther created Eternal Sphere, to keep the 4D denizens distracted from their lack of fulfillment.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Your characters literally do this in game. Your party enters 4D space through a computer monitor.
If you never encounter Roger during the game, a short scene will play after the ending where he yells at the player to come rescue him.
Brilliant, but Lazy: Fayt, arguably, since the guy does know a fair bit about machinery, as shown when he fixes Meena's music box because he knew the exact parts needed. He also knew that the cannon needed a copper wire in order to properly work, since iron wasn't conducting as well. However, he is shown at the beginning to be a bit of a slacker, playing video games instead of doing homework.
Camp Gay: Belzeber. The fact that he uses a whip as a weapon doesn't really seem to help things.
Can't Catch Up: If a character is out of the party for any length of time and suddenly comes back, they return at the level they were when they left. The most blatant example of this is Sophia, who returns to the party around the middle of the game after being playable for only a couple of tutorial battles at the very beginning. Everyone else in your party is perhaps level 30 or greater by this point, while she's still at level 1, and by now you're facing enemies that can insta-kill your properly levelled characters.
You can level her up (along with Peppita) easily by grinding in a different location, and, since they're at level 1, they can make the bonus battle gauge fill up faster, thus making you earn EXP easier. There's even a battle trophy for gaining 20 levels in a single battle.
Cast from Hit Points: In an unusual and painful variation, every skill in the game. In this game, losing either your HP or MP will knock you unconscious, and all skills in the game use one, the other or both. Thus, you have to manage yourself if you don't want to end up skilling yourself into oblivion.
Childhood Friend Romance: Sophia, depending on what ending you get, and in general, your opinion about what happens in the future. If you do not get the Fayt/Maria ending, Maria will hook up with Lieber, making Marietta Lieber's unlucky childhood friend.
The Constant: The intro has a few, including an intact Statue of Liberty surrounded by hovering architecture.
Crapsack World: Believe it or not, the "real" world that Fayt and co. venture into fits this trope. A world that's all play and no work is not as pleasant as it sounds. Especially when you consider that, as Maria points out, it's mostly a very effective ploy for Luther and his cohorts to essentially be the overlords of the 4D cities.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Vendeeni disrupter rifles are either instantly lethal or heavily damaging; in an actual battle, not so much.
The Enforcers can delete entire battleships, yet never use that ability in battle. Fayt's and Maria's powers, in turn, are this subverted. The actual attacks can be found for battle in a bonus dungeon after beating the main story.
Disc One Nuke: A minor one, but if you sell the 1/144 Scale Bunny you get from completing the maps for Pesotto Forest and Traum Mountains at the earliest possible opportunity, you can buy the Holy Sword for Fayt from Airyglyph much earlier than you should be able to. The sword has an ATK of 200, allowing you to cut through many early enemies with ease. The only downside is that you might have to deal with Dragon Brigade Soldiers, which you aren't meant to be able to defeat at that point in the game. However, with clever usage of the Anti-Attack Aura, it's quite possible to beat them, which nets you a great deal of EXP.
A major one is using Alchemy to make Orichalcum and Synthesis to augment your weapons with it. It's a huge guide dang it, but with enough money and perhaps an hour of effort, you can end up with a character doing dozens of times as much damage and turning otherwise hard bosses into curb stomp battles that end so quickly that the death animation takes longer than the fight itself.
Fashionable Asymmetry: Albel, though justified as the gauntlet is either a prosthetic, or something that covers a severely disfigured arm.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the story, Fayt agonizes for a long time over whether to break the alien non-interference clause by sharing his advanced technology with the Aquarians. Long before he does so, however, all the stores are likely to be selling bombs and other gadgets he and his party cheerfully designed and distributed via the invention system.
Note that bombs and such have already existed, but only to the continent of Greeton.
Cliff claims Norton's gun won't do much damage to a member of his species, but it does exactly as much damage to him in battle as it does to Fayt. Giving he dodges the weapon that won't affect him, there is always the option he is bluffing or referring to his ability to dodge it.
Convictors. Even at a lower level, they seem so much easier than Enforcers or Proclaimers, no doubt due to their major multiple hit attacks being on "weak" settings. And yet, in the cutscene after the boss battle, the characters comment on them being so much stronger than the previous threat.
A God Am I: Luther's gotten a little too obsessed with running the Eternal Sphere.
Not to mention he has the highest Engineering stat of the playable characters.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Up until the end of Disc 1, the Vendeeni were the oft-mentioned horrible threat to all existence which the main characters have spent the whole game either running or hiding from. When they finally show up for a proper fight in Disc 2, they get their asses handed to them and are never mentioned again after the Executioners and their masters, the Sphere Corporation up in 4D Space hit the stage, literally coming out of nowhere.
Global Currency: For some reason, Fol are accepted on every world, even ones that ostensibly have no contact with the galactic economy. Justified by the MMORPG nature of things, although that justification seems shaky when you leave the game and find your money is just as good. It still holds up when you realize the only area you buy things in is in a live, cosplay version of the game.
They may have modeled the MMORPG currency after their own, or the theme park uses that currency specifically to make it more authentic, or for players to get rewards for their cash grinding in game.
Gratuitous English: All over the place in the Japanese version, particularly in the menu and in battles. All battle skills are in English (mostly unchanged, and even displayed in English letters rather than katakana), and if you try to use an item before the cooldown runs out, you get "An item can't be used!!" (whereas nothing shows up in the English version).
Guide Dang It: The item creation system. There are so many items and equipment that you need a guide and a couple hours to get just a handful of items you want. It's also partially randomly drops.
Also, making two of the following characters permanent members of the party: Nel, Peppita, Albel, and Roger.
Despite being a PlayStation 2 release, walking (required for one very early puzzle) is not linked to small movements of the analog like every other game for a system with a joystick based controller, but to holding the circle button. At least it's in the manual if you look for it.
The Multiple Endings. You'll want to look up what conversations and actions have an affect on your party member's feelings for you since it's usually not obvious.
Heavy Worlder: Klaus III, the home planet of the Klausian race, has a gravity around twice that of Earth's, giving them correspondingly more speed, strength, and stamina than a typical Earthling.note Or other races living in gravity roughly that of Earth's, such as Elicoorians or Vanguardians.
Heel-Face Turn: Albel; starts out as more of an enemy mine, but if you recruit him as one of your optional party members, he definitely becomes this.
Heroes Prefer Swords: Fayt. Expressly to fit in on the underdeveloped planets he lands on. And he plays a warrior archetype in the video game simulation he plays with.
Human Aliens: Loads and loads, most prominently Elicoorians (and to a lesser, though still great, extent Klausians; the neck markings that Klausians have are mistaken for tattoos in Cliff's Crafstman Guild profile). Once the plot twist hits, though, it actually makes sense...
Interface Spoiler: The workshop map on the invention screen shows that Aquios is the final town on that planet.
Interspecies Romance: Though almost any of the intelligent species in the Star Ocean universe could be considered to be sub-species of the same species (especially since they can interbreed), the game considers each to be different. As such, examples of interspecies romance can potentially include (depending on the paired endings): Fayt x Nel (Earthling x Elicoorian), Fayt x Mirage (Earthling x Klausian), and Maria x Lieber (Earthling x Klausian, this is the default pairing for Maria if you do not get the Fayt x Maria ending).
Manual Leader, AI Party: The game allows the player to control one character, or the entire party, by setting all characters to "Manual" in the options menu. In addition, you can set the behavior of AI controlled party members from a selection of tactics, with some being unique to certain characters. This works, for the most part, but every so often....
Meaningful Name: Fayt Leingod and Maria Traydor. It should be noted, though, that Maria's surname (which is literally spelt "Traitor" in the Japanese version) is actually a misnomer, since she never behaves traitorously in any way at all. Sophia gets in on the act too, if you know anything about Gnosticism (or played Xenogears or Xenosaga).
Maria could be considered a traitor; she's a human originally from from the Federation, but later joins Quark, an anti-Federation group.
Mind Screw: Just try to understand how the ending works. Go ahead, just try. Even the characters themselves lampshade it.
A Mythology Is True: Elicoorians, out of everyone in the universe, were the only ones remotely accurate in their religion. While names present in other religions are apparently taken from various Sphere employees, the Elicoorian gods were named for the programmers themselves. Being able to see the Eternal Sphere's coding may explain that one.
Nonindicative Name: Some of the song titles have nothing to do with where they're actually played. "Lakes and Marshes with Doubt," for example, is played on starships (though there is certainly a lot of doubt during the times you hear it).
Odd Job Gods: Deconstructed silly. In the world of the gods, it is considered chimeric to do anything outside your established talents, except visiting the mortal realm. Being an odd-job god is not fun or fulfilling. The reason gods so often play around with mortals is because that's just how bored they are. In this universe, the Buddha's point that the gods should be pitied is very much on the mark.
Don't let the plot twist distract you from the fact that Eternal Sphere views the 4D world as the abode of the gods. 4D culture considers it chimeric for anyone to do anything they don't have the equivalent of a degree for, save for playing Sphere's games. This even extends to giving directions — looser restrictions would trample on the jobs and pay of those who do have the proper degrees, after all. This has the unpleasant effect of making 4D a practical World of Silence. And it gets worse; even with ES to distract them when not on the job, they're viewed as odd-job gods by ES's residents. They can't even figure out how to do anything meaningful that isn't directly related to their job in their escapism! In other words, even in the ultimate escape fantasy, the 4D world's idea of proper employment and behavior makes the pursuit of happiness impossible.
This game has a particularly jarring example; Nel, whom you have in your party for the majority of Disc 1, is an optional character whereas Adray, who barely even shows up in any cutscenes and doesn't even show up in the original version, is not optional.
If the player skips a certain forest area until beating the resident boss, it becomes possible to miss running into Roger entirely. This leaves players going through the entire game wondering who this entire set of Axe weapons sold at every shop belongs to.
The other two optional members are Peppita and Albel. Peppita reappears at the Moonbase and you can choose to take her with you before you leave. Albel, on the other hand has to be sought out via a sidequest (albeit a brief and simple one). If you complete this quest before leaving Elicoor, then Albel goes with you instead of Nel and you actually have to come back for her after you escape 4D Space.
Our Vampires Are Different: Rezerbians (of which only escaped convict Norton is seen) are very, very vampire-like aside from being mortal. In addition to feeding by drinking bodily fluids (this is compared to the feeding habits of a leech), ultraviolet radiation burns their skin (they wear special suits to protect them from the sun), and they can regenerate easily as with vampires in modern fiction, with Rezerbians even being able to regenerate whole limbs within several months.
Not Using the Z Word: In addition, the word "vampire" isn't even mentioned during normal gameplay or even the in-game dictionary.
Panty Shot: Nel and Sophia, constantly. Maria gets some with her third and fourth alternate costumes, too. And for the ladies, Albel gets some of these, most obviously if you use him to create items through smithery (they're purple).
Person of Mass Destruction: Fayt and Maria have the ability to annihilate a battleship without any real help (Fayt is actually engineered with the "Destruction" gene, in fact) and Sophia's power allows the other two to bring that precise destructive power outside. Where it shouldn't even be able to exist.
Pride Before a Fall: Albel comes off as having a massive ego when it comes to fighting both times you meet him before you actually get to fight him. And when you beat him, Fayt invokes this as he knows it will hurt him more by letting him go then just finishing him off.
Prophetic Name: It's obvious someone with a name like "Fayt Leingod" was destined for greatness. Subverted with Maria, who, despite her last name sounding suspiciously like "traitor" (Traydor) she doesn't turn out to be one.
Rock of Limitless Water: The Sacred Orb; a prized treasure of the Kingdom of Aquaria. As an exceedingly powerful artifact, it is desired by each of the warring factions in the galactic war. Later, it is revealed to be a debugging tool for use by the denizens of 4D Space.
Schizo Tech: On a planet that's still stuck in 1600s era technology, how does the Craftsmen's Guild have a compact communicator??
She Is Not My Girlfriend: Completely averted with Fayt. In order to get a mature and unwanted woman to leave him alone, he claims that Sophia is his girlfriend when she asks him if Sophia's his sister. Sophia practically plays this straight until Fayt begs her to play along. Not like she minds.
Shout-Out: You meet two brothers named Lucien and Lezard in Lost City of Surferio. For those who don't know, Lucian is also the name of Lenneth's love interest in Valkyrie Profile and Lezard is the name of her insanestalker with a crush. Also, the kid Lezard seems to be just as conniving as his counterpart, who knows what he'll grow up to be.
Lenneth and Freya also make appearances as super bosses. Interestingly, like Lucian and Lezard, Lenneth was also turned into a little kid and has small animal-like ears.
There's also the Lezard Flask, also a reference to Lezard.
Given the name and description of the Sunrise Dictionary, it may be a reference to the Sunrise company, well known for the Gundammecha series.
A bookshelf in the mansion at Arias has music pieces called "Go to the Light" and "Heart to Heart" which reference the opening and ending themes of the Star Ocean EX anime.
Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: In a particularly odd example, Cliff's futuristic muscle-enhancing "Mighty Gauntlet" weapon is his weakest weapon in the game, not counting crafting failures, because it's his starting weapon. Even run of the mill iron gauntlets are stronger.
Spam Attack: Cliff's "Fists of Fury" and Albel's "Air Slash of Fury" and "Double Slash of Fury".
Fayt's "Side Kick." Well, spammed attack, anyway. Once he gets it, he spends an awful lot of the game flying foot-first at one enemy or another.
Spell My Name with an S: Spelling (and names) change between the Japanese and English versions. Fate Linegod/Fayt Leingod, Souffle Rossetti/Peppita Rossetti, Cliff Fitter/Cliff Fittir, Mirage Coast/Mirage Koas, and Maria Traitor/Maria Traydor.
Spoiled By The Manual: Maria's entry in the dictionary is available to you by the time you crash into Airyglyph, thanks to the entry about the Diplo. Among other things, her entry mentions Fayt's and Sophia's powers, as well as Fayt's father's role in them long before they're mentioned in the game proper.
Stupid Sacrifice: We know that Maria's mom really just had to choose a moment when the ship they're on is about to be destroyed to let Maria know that she's adopted. But wouldn't that time have been better spent going to an escape pod as well and letting her know after they both reached safety?
Take That: A very subtle one. Till the End of Time was published by Enix before their merger with Squaresoft in 2003. The game's big bad and his goldfish poop gang of flunkies are all part of a video game company known by the shorthand "Sphere". It becomes an unintentional Self-Deprecation in the Director's Cut/overseas versions, which were released after the merger.
Teaser Equipment: When you first arrive in Airyglyph City, several powerful weapons and items are sold for 20,000 Fol or more when you'll have barely a tenth of that. Purchasing this gear early is a godsend on the higher difficulties.
Universal Poison: Averted with the Antidote Symbology, which an in-game book mentions is actually one of many abilities depending on the exact kind of poison.
Updated Re-release: The original Japanese version of Till the End of Time was incredibly buggy and didn't work at all on the original PlayStation 2 models. Square Enix then released the Director's Cut which fixed all the bugs and added new features. The overseas versions are based on the Director's Cut version.
Video Game Physics: Fayt's power of Destruction warps reality in a radius around him so that his immediate surroundings match the physics of the Eternal Sphere. This allows the party to use their magic and battle skills in 4D space. Otherwise, they'd just be like normal humans.
Wave Motion Gun: The Executioner's method of attack, as well as the Creation Cannon on the Federation Battleships.
When Trees Attack: There's a number of treant-like monsters you'll come across. While most of them can be killed using MP damaging attacks easily, you can also Kill It with Fire, a la the Blazing Sword ability.
Whip It Good: Belzeber. Roger has one as well, but only uses it in a single move.