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Video Game / Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

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Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is the third console installment in the Star Ocean series 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, where he eventually gets rescued by Cliff Fittir, a member of a resistance group named Quark. After crashing on another undeveloped planet, they get caught up in the 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.

A remastered version was released in Japan on March 30, 2017 and in North America on May 23, 2017 for the PlayStation 4. It features upscaled graphics and trophy support.

This video game provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • Aborted Arc: When Maria explains her backstory, one of the things she focuses on is the discovery that she had been adopted as an infant, and that she was searching for her biological mother. There is evidence that this was originally supposed to lead to a reveal that she and Fayt are twins Separated at Birth, but the subject of Maria's biological parents is never brought up again.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Each character's maximum level is 255, in a game that can be beaten around level 70. Each character will learn their last skill at around level 50, maybe a bit higher depending on the individual character, with the ultimate abilities coming from items. Even then, the only reason to grind that high is to take on the superbosses and get through the Bonus Dungeon. And with appropriate item crafting and equipment, the level required to beat the game could be even lower.
  • Absurdly Long Stairway: The game ends its final dungeon with a needlessly long (straight) staircase leading up to the Final Boss. Especially egregious in that the staircase concludes a long climb up a tower. A tower that exists in its own pocket dimension.
  • Action Girl: Maria Traydor, Nel Zelpher, Sophia Esteed, Peppita Rossetti, and Mirage Koas.
  • Aerith and Bob: On one hand, you have names like Fayt, Peppita, and 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.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Serves as a plot point and cause for some internal angst early on before the main character decides to help out as much as he can while still following the spirit of the law as well as he can. It helps that the locals assume that he's an engineer from the world's most technologically advanced nation that they had requested to come to begin with, so his more advanced scientific knowledge has a ready explanation.
  • Amazon Brigade: Aquaria's Secret Legion is comprised entirely of women, who act as covert ops for the Queen of Aquaria. Clair Lasbard is the Legion's leader, with Nel as her right-hand, while Tynave and Farleen are Nel's subordinates.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • It's subtly implied that Nel and Clair may be an item, such as when she returns from the Kirlsa Facility, after rescuing Tynave and Farleen. They share an embrace (seen at 4:00-4:20). The manga version of the scene is more pronounced, by having Clair blush as they stare into each other's eyes.
    • Belzeber, based on his appearance and voice. However, being a minor boss character, this is actually never said straight out.
  • Anachronic Order: Only the third game in the series but the last one in the series' internal chronology, where everything from the games that came before and those then-yet-to-come comes to a head, which works well considering the aforementioned plot twist.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Earning battle trophies unlocks new costumes and color schemes for your characters, music, higher difficulty levels, and other simple little rewards.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • The Executioners attempt to conduct a Galactic Total Extinction. They easily succeed; Earth and Vendeen both go silent, Aldian is destroyed, and all the other planets in the Milky Way are hit as well.
    • Luther attempts Universal Metaphysical Annihilation. He succeeds, but everything comes back just fine minutes later.
  • Apocalypse Wow: Executioners versus the Earth's defense grid. Earth goes silent thanks to the Executioners using a Galactic Total Extinction.
  • Appetite Equals Health: After Cliff and Mirage rescued Maria after she escaped from a spaceship wreckage, after which she had lost both her parents, after she wakes up, they worry that she might still be injured. When she replies that she's hungry, both laugh in relief, and Cliff tells Mirage to get her some food.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The respected scientists researching the Time Gate, who study magic for a living, think people won't believe them when the Time Gate warned them of extra-dimensional beings coming to destroy them.
  • 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 example, Cliff's Max Shockwave and Maria's Energy Burst.note  Also, Fayt's Dimension Door 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. The same is true with Nel's Flying Guillotine.
    • Albel's Dragon Roar looks utterly awesome, but since it knocks enemies down, it'll only do respectable damage if you use it on an enemy that's getting up, since enemies getting up hit with a knockdown attack get lifted into the sky.
  • 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. The fact that Cliff and Mirage were not surprised by this heavily implies that the same thing happened to Maria after she destroyed the Invisible.
  • Badass Adorable: Lenneth appears as a little girl who can barely hold her gigantic spear. Doesn't stop her from being one of the game's toughest superbosses.
  • 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.
  • 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). However, 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.
  • 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. Try not to rely too much on it though, as one wrong move and you could trigger the enemy's Anti Attack Aura which can get nasty especially on those with homing auras.
  • 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 since he 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 knows the electromagnetic properties of the elements, as when Dion tells him about the iron wire, he immediately tells him to switch to copper. However, Fayt is shown at the beginning to be a bit of a slacker, playing video games instead of doing homework.
  • Brought Down to Normal: This is what is expected to happen to residents of the Eternal Sphere if they manage to cross into 4D Space without suffering Cessation of Existence. Fayt was given the Symbol of Destruction specifically to prevent his from happening. The English script doesn't do a good job of explaining this.
  • Butt-Monkey: Cliff, in the manga.
  • 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 are Sophia and Peppita, who both return to the party around the middle of the game after being playable for only a couple of tutorial battles at the very beginning.note  Everyone else in your party is most likely at level 30 or greater by this point, while both are still at level 1, and by now you're facing enemies that can insta-kill your properly leveled characters. You can level both 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. Similarly, there's a battle trophy for beating the final boss with three level 1 characters, and the ones who fulfill this roles are Sophia, Peppita and Faytnote 
  • Cartography Sidequest: One of the more painful examples.
  • Cast from Hit Points: In an unusual and painful variation, most battle skills. 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.
  • Cat Girl: Felinefolk and Ur-Felinefolk.
  • Cessation of Existence: Even if someone in the Eternal Sphere manages to open the way to 4D Space, it is expected that they would cease to exist if they were to actually attempt to cross over. The Symbol of Alteration was given to Maria to prevent this.
  • 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.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The one planet you crash land on just so happens to have the keystone to the entire galaxy on it, and the only access point to the Eternal Sphere's equivalent of a debug room.
  • Counter-Attack: Both Peppita and Albel can do this.
  • 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, since the people are bored as hell. 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.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Fayt and Maria.
  • 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: In-game violence is low-key, since there isn't any blood even when characters are cut down with swords. But the manga adaptation actually shows Nel slitting enemies throats, complete with arterial bloodspray. And she's nearly raped twice while attempting to rescue Tynave and Farleen from the Kirlsa Facility; which didn't happen in the game.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Fayt, mostly at the beginning to Cliff:
    Cliff: Look, my mission is to bring you to our leader. Until then, I’ll watch out for you—trust me! You’re safe as…as a turtle in its shell!
    Fayt: A turtle dropping out of orbit...
    Cliff: These restraints are pretty solid. Damn… They’re too tight, I can’t move at all...
    Fayt: Um... that's why they're called 'restraints'.
    Cliff: True enough. But I bet you that Mr. Super-Square, champion of the UP3 would disagree with you.
    Fayt: Hah hah, very funny.
    • Cliff also has his moments:
    after being tortured, Fayt asks Cliff why he didn't just bust out (which he could have done easily).
    Cliff: Would've been too much of a pain... I couldn't just leave you there, anyway, and I kinda wanted to see what was going on first hand.
    Fayt: So, You find anything out?
    Cliff: As a matter of fact, I did.
    Fayt: What?
    Cliff: The whips on this planet hurt, too.
    Fayt: Very funny.
  • Demoted to Extra: Albel and Nel, once they become optional party members.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Everything in Ameena's subplot.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • A minor one, but if you sell the 1/144 Scale Bunnies 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. It's also possible (albeit not recommended) to raise that money by obtaining Copper Idols from the Nobleman enemies in both Pesotto Forest and the Ruins of Coffir and selling them to shops.
    • 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.
    • One that's more powerful than it seems is an enemy in a side room in the Airyglyph Aquaducts that has a chance of dropping a Regeneration Symbol, which periodically restore three percent of the user's MP. Three Regeneraton Symbols will last the player to the final dungeon, not just because MP regeneration significantly lowers the risk of an MP-kill, but because it's so easy to ensure that at least one character will have a healing spell, which that character will never run out of MP to cast.
  • Disney Death: The first optional character (out of Nel, Albel, and Roger) who helps Fayt and the others against the Vendeeni at the Kirlsa Training Facility will be struck by Biwig's laser gun, resulting in them seemingly dying. The advanced medical technology on the Diplo heals them up right after, however.
  • Distant Finale: Canonically, Till the End of Time is the farthest entry in the franchise's timeline.
  • Dub Name Change: This game has many of them.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The in-game dictionary is considered by some fans to be better written/more interesting than the game's script itself. Just be careful of what shows up, since it might spoil things you don't know.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Early on, Fayt turns his communicator into an improvised explosive by overloading its power supply.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Very few people in the capital city of Airyglyph seem to wear weather appropriate clothing, despite a temperature of 20 degrees (below freezing).
  • Expy: Cliff to Ilia Silvestri. Blond, Genius Bruiser, martial artist, that's the first to join the party and becomes less relevant to the plot the further along the game is.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Albel, though justified as the gauntlet is either a prosthetic, or something that covers a severely disfigured arm.
  • Forced Transformation: Masques and Masque Kings temporarily turn their enemies into vegetables or pastries.
  • 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.
    • Similarly, to the above, Fayt says in a cutscene that he hopes he won't have to use his sword. If he gets in a fight right after that he excitedly says "ALL RIGHT! A real fight!"
    • 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.
  • God Is Evil: Subverted. Luther is not a deity, but he sure as hell thinks he's one. In the original Japanese version, he's called Lucifer, making him more like Yaldabaoth in Gnosticism.
  • Genki Girl: Peppita.
  • Genius Bruiser: Cliff, probably. When he's not busy pulverizing mooks with Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs and Sphere of Destruction, he's also the very capable (former) leader of Quark. In fact, he stepped down when he witnessed Maria's capacity for destruction surpassed his own. He also 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.
    • When on a mission to save Ameena, Sophia's sickly flower girl lookalike, the party encounters a Mud monster which randomly appears out of a pond,isn't alluded to prior and is not mentioned again after its defeat
    • In the Bequerel mines, the party is attacked by a giant chicken which can turn people to stone with its bite. It's not alluded to prior, unlike the Brass Dragons that you find as regular enemies within (and they were alluded to in the database as moving in recently in-universe).
  • 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. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that the game is probably pay tow in which is why the real world also uses fol outside of that town.
  • 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 Random drops.
    • Also, making two of the following characters permanent members of the party: Nel, Peppita, Albel, and Roger.
    • Speaking of Roger, when he first joins the party he doesn't have a weapon, and there's no where in the immediate area to buy him one. Unless you knew to buy/craft one before meeting him, you'll be stuck with severely crippled character for quite a few battles.
    • 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.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Meena and Niklas.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • How Did We Get Back Home?: At the end of the game, the main characters wake up from their entire universe being deleted with no explanation of how they're still alive, or how their universe is still intact. Maria speculates on it for a minute, but the party ultimately decides to not worry about it and just go home.
  • 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...
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Earth, Galaxy, Universe, 4D.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • The workshop map on the invention screen shows that Aquios is the final town on that planet.
    • Before crashing on Elicoor II, Cliff offhandedly mentions Quark's flagship The Diplo, which naturally receives a dictionary entry. Due to Wiki Walk, the curious player is then lead to find Maria's profile, which includes the massive revelation regarding Fayt heard near the end of Disc 1.
  • 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).
  • Late Character Syndrome:
    • Sophia permanently rejoins in Disc 2, more than halfway through the main story. Although she's one of the few characters who specializes in Symbology, she rejoins at level 1 during a point in the game where enemies can basically insta-kill your properly leveled characters. As such, several players will just not bother using her at all,
    • Peppita also shares similar problems with Sophia, rejoining late in the game at a low level. Although she fares a bit better with players due to how powerful she can become compared to Sophia.
    • Mirage joins the party about 3/4th through the main story. Problem is, she'll be about 10-20 levels lower than your other characters and she's a Moveset Clone of Cliff with a couple of differences.
    • Lastly, Adray. He'll permanently join the party a little after Mirage does, and he'll be even lower leveled than her. Even if you temporarily recruit him during Disc 1 and get more levels on him beforehand, the long gap between that time and him rejoining can place him in Can't Catch Up territory.
  • Lost in Translation: The English script is vague about what Fayt's power actually does, unlike Maria and Sophia's more explicit roles. Even the dictionary entry for the Symbol of Destruction only gives a zero-context explanation of its Reality Warper capabilities. In the Japanese version, it is more explicitly explained that Fayt is projecting a bubble around himself that allows the party to continue using their Symbology and Killer Moves instead of being Brought Down to Normal.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The Bunny Races.
  • Magic Genetics: What Symbological Genetics entails.
  • Mana Shield: There is a support skill called Convert Damage, and selecting it lets you pick between Preserve HP and Preserve MP. The former is the trope while the latter is an inversion. The skill converts the damage for the stat you picked to preserve into the other for a specific amount (say if you pick Preserve MP, the damage for each 1MP is converted to 10HP damage instead). This can potentially turn characters into tank - Maria for instance has a huge MP pool and thus Preserve HP is good for her.
  • Manual Leader, A.I. 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, unless you count how she led an anti-Federation group in which she would be seen as a traitor to the Feds, not to mention her parents (where she took her surname from) were participating in a forbidden research that goes against the will of the creator. Sophia gets in on the act too, if you know anything about Gnosticism (or played Xenogears or Xenosaga).
  • Mind Screw: Just try to understand how the ending works. Go ahead, just try. Even the characters themselves lampshade it.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: There are ten total playable characters, and six of them are required. Of the remaining four - Nel, Albel, Roger and Peppita - you can have only two permanently join to round out your party of eight. You get to use all four at some point in the story, though.
  • 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.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Sophia.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero You piss off Luther enough for him to start deleting the universe. Good thing it doesn't actually work, or something.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Nel's a medieval ninja wizard special forces government agent.
  • 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).
  • Noob Cave: Justified. Running opposite of the Klausians, in inhabitants of Vanguard III are mentioned as having 70% of the physical strength possessed by humans due to their planet's low gravity. This presumably goes for the monsters living there as well.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The word "vampire" isn't even mentioned during normal gameplay or even the in-game dictionary.
  • Odd Job Gods:
    • Deconstructed. 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.
  • Optional Party Member:
    • 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 Archons Are Different: Portrayed as more sympathetic than most examples, feeling agonizingly bored and unfulfilled.
  • 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.
  • Parrot Exposition: Fayt. All the time.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: The "Get 'Em Twin Beast" round in the Battle Arena.
  • 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.
  • Post-End Game Content: The Maze of Tribulations, the Urssa Cave Temple and the rest of Sphere 211.
  • 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. Double-subverted with Maria, who, despite her last name sounding suspiciously like "traitor" (Traydor) she doesn't turn out to be one for the party. For the Pangalactic Federation or the 4D beings? She (and her family) is.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Pierre and Kurin are a pair of Menodix, who're exclusive to the manga. They're a part of the Black Cat group of bounty hunters, though it only seems to be to two of them. And while only a minor nuisance, at best, they still prove problematic for Fayt, Nel, and Cliff.
  • 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??
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Fayt is initially reluctant to put his advanced technology and science knowedge to use to help Aquaria in its war, but some atrocities committed by Airyglyph soldiers change his tune. He still limits it to knowledge that the Elicoorans could conceivably have come up with on their own with the tech base they currently have, rather than give them advanced tech. Not that he could do the latter anyway.
  • 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.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Fayt and Cliff. "Engineers from Greeton", indeed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Sphere is a reference to Square, a real life company famous for making role-playing games.
    • 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 insane Stalker 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 Gundam mecha 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.
    • Ameena is a clear reference to another flower-selling girl. It goes even worse than you expect.
      • The standard uniform worn by Quark combat personnel (seen most obviously on Lancar, and Mirage to a small degree) seems to be a reference to Final Fantasy VII's SOLDIERs, particularly Zack Fair and Cloud Strife. Unfortunately, every one of them we see get mercilessly gunned down.
    • If you call Puffy "Murphy", she'll complain that she's neither a law or "some pesky ghost for racking up experience points", referencing the recurring Murphy's Ghost monster from Wizardry fame.
  • 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?
  • Superboss: Lenneth and Freya from Valkyrie Profile, along with the usual Gabriel Celeste and the Ethereal Queen. Also, optional Nintendo Hard palette swaps of the main party and Luther.
  • Taking the Bullet: This is how Fayt's father dies, trying to protect him from being killed by Biwig.
  • 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 real Big Bad and his 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.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: A very infamous one that utterly changed the entire franchise: the entire universe - and all previous Star Ocean entries - is just a popular MMORPG called the Eternal Sphere run by the Sphere corporation in the 4D world, which is run by Luther. The Vendeeni threat is immediately replaced once Luther begins his plan to destroy Eternal Sphere because it started to become self-aware of its place. It should be noted that every other new Star Ocean game actively avoids releasing a new entry set after this one.
  • 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.
  • Uncommon Time: There's a lot of this in the soundtrack, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering Motoi Sakuraba's love for Progressive Rock. "Preemptive Attack" is one of many examples.
  • 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 Cruelty Potential: The Nobleman is an enemy type you encounter early on that doesn't attack at all and just runs around. Your only option other than fleeing and losing the XP/money you could have gotten is beating him until he does his special move, which is him pleading for his life. If you let the move go uninterrupted, a treasure chest appears and opens automatically before he leaves and you get an Idol made out of some material such as copper or silver. It's possible to make him use his special move multiple times to get more than one idol by striking him just as he's about to leave. You can also intentionally trip him, which results him dropping his money. You can do this as long as you like to farm money. If you do kill him he either cries or screams "I hate you!"
  • 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.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Averted with most NPCs, who get new dialogue as you progress in the story. They still usually only have two or more blurbs of dialogue each time, though.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The motivation of the antagonists. Since the whole universe is an MMORPG, the Big Bad doesn't see a problem with eliminating the protagonists, since to him, they're just examples of A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
  • 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.
  • Your Magic's No Good Here: Defied. It's stated that the party should have been Brought Down to Normal when they crossed over to 4D Space, but Fayt's Symbol of Destruction is projecting a bubble around him that allows the party to act under their native universe's laws. This explanation is badly muddled in the English script.

Alternative Title(s): Star Ocean 3