This is specifically for all the old-school role-playing fans out there. You know who you are.
I stumbled across my collection of strategy guides today; back in the days of my RPG obsession, I would always get the guide when I bought a new game. I was a completionist to the max and because there was zero chance of getting and doing everything in those RPGs without help, I always got the guide. It was always worth it, too, so shut up. You can call it cheating if you wish, but I wasn't about to miss the impossible. Younger gamers who are only familiar with newer adventures don't really know what I'm talking about, by the way. There were always several totally obscure things in those old-school RPGs you'd never know without assistance.
Anyway, I started flipping through the guide for Star Ocean: The 2nd Story and the memories just came flooding back. See, I probably spent a good 160 hours with that one (over 100 on one play-through, as I had to do the Cave of Trials and everything else, of course), and I remember it well. The interesting part, though, is that this was not only one of the best, but one of the most complete RPGs ever made. Those of you who are unfamiliar, here are the highlights:
— Large world map with random encounters and multiple modes of transportation, very similar to Final Fantasy.
— An innovative real-time/turn-based hybrid combat system that was very customizable. You could really set battles to play out however you wished, and you always had full control; you could issue commands and switch control between each character in your party.
— Multiple characters to recruit. Not nearly as many as Suikoden, but recruiting some meant missing others, and getting a few meant going very much out of your way.
— A Private Action system that would increase or decrease the personality traits of each character in your party. In other words, if you were in town and you had certain characters in your party, a particular PA might show up, after which the romantic or friendship number between the involved characters would rise or fall.
— The latter had a direct impact on the possible endings; there were over 80 possible endings in all.
— Two main characters essentially meant that you could play it through twice and it would be a little different; you'd see different scenes and even have access to different characters. Considering that it was basically a 60-hour game minimum, this put the replayability through the roof.
— Massive amount of micromanagement depth through Alchemy, Blacksmith, Cooking, and seven other skills. Each character could level up in each discipline as well, and various raw materials were always required. This is one of the biggest reasons I got the guide…crazy deep.
— An epic, emotional story that was heavy on dialogue, character development, and exploration, and with branching and recruitment possibilities, along with a ton of extra content (yeah, before DLC) that could keep you playing for many more hours.
Now, are we really missing anything here? If we were going to construct the greatest RPG ever, wouldn't we just use this list as a blueprint? Well, I would. In all honesty, I'd say Star Ocean: The 2nd Story was right up there with the PS1 FF entries as one of the very best RPGs in history.
Related Game(s): Star Ocean: The 2nd Story