The Little Gamer Reviews: Star Ocean: First Departure

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Xiao_Caity, Dec 3, 2008.

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You want to see more of these reviews?

Poll closed Dec 10, 2008.
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  2. No

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  1. Xiao_Caity

    Xiao_Caity New Member

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    Yes, the Little Gamer is me. I'm considering doing a site for gamer girls, seeing as how female gamers usually get some pretty nasty responses to their opinions online. If so, this kind of thing will be my contribution. Honest feedback would be appreciated.

    *-*-*

    Movie Clips

    Anime-style movie clips are surprisingly rare in gaming, and for a pretty good reason - most of the time, they suck, and they're almost always completely inappropriate for the game in question. To date, the Little Gamer has seen only three video games where anime - or pseudo-anime - clips have been advisable; Rogue Galaxy (which was essentially an anime in and of itself), and the first two Star Ocean games (which are very anime in style).

    So the Little Gamer was hardly surprised to find anime movies in the middle of First Departure. What did surprise her was the quality and appeal of said clips. From the stylish opening sequence when the UMD first boots up to the heart-wrenching conclusion to Ioshua and Mavelle's side-plot, they were smooth, attractive, appropriate and, although disappointingly rare, always welcome when they did appear.

    9/10 - this would be a solid 10/10, but there are only ten clips in the entire game. And it's not a short game.

    Characters

    Alright, the Little Gamer will not deny it. She was frightened that she was going to loathe the main characters. After all, they're a slightly goofy but unexpectedly powerful swordsman and a young female healer with temper issues. You can hardly blame her for being nervous. Luckily, said fears were unfounded.

    The characters in First Departure are, in a word, brilliant.

    Roddick, the potentially highly stereotypical swordsman, is fun. He's a little goofy, but it's a genuine 'I really don't understand why you're annoyed' goofy, as opposed to the 'dumb-as-Forrest-Gump' goofy that gamers are usually subjected to. Even better, he's had prior training, so the pitfall of 'unexpected sword master' is neatly avoided. Millie, the healer, is a little closer to stereotype, but she more than makes up for it with a cheerful personality and some very clever writing. Ronyx and Ilia, the token humans, have all kinds of fun little personality quirks that make them a joy to behold, especially when romance starts to blossom. Again, this could descend into cliche, but clever writing keeps it from turning into the usual saccharine bullshit gamers must tolerate.

    The optional characters are something of a mixed bag. Some characters, such as Ioshua and Cyuss, are an absolute necessity to pick up in the first couple of run-throughs, because they are talented, interesting and useful characters well worth the effort of tracking down. Others, however, may not prove to be as amusing. Although Pericchi is necessary for the Bunny Whistle, she doesn't really add anything except a cute cat-girl for certain types of fans to get all hot and bothered over, and apart from looking like Ranma and turning into a wolf, the Little Gamer has yet to see any proof that T'nique was worth dropping the Ioshua/Mavelle plot.

    The new characters, Erys and Welch, were well-created and a ball to use, and Welch especially was all kinds of hysterical. It's a true pleasure to discover hidden characters that don't suck like a vacuum cleaner set to 'High'.

    7/10 - some characters were brilliant, and others were just frustrating.

    Voicing

    It's not often that the Little Gamer allows herself to say this, but she loved the voice acting in First Departure. When she realised that something like half of her party was under the age of 20, she felt a terrible wave of most decidedly appropriate fear, and memories of MOMO made her shiver.

    Luckily, said fear was unwarranted. Even the cat-girl has a good voice, appropriately cat-like but without devolving into the squeaky cuteness that seems to plague younger characters. (At this point, the Little Gamer turns a hostile eye to Xiao Qiao, the origin of her nickname.) Older characters have suitably mature and appropriate voices, characters with formal speech patterns have voices that suit their manner, and the young characters sound young without being squeaky, 'cute' or nauseating.

    A fair number of NPCs get voices as well, and even these are well-acted and appropriate for the characters being portrayed. Let's hear it for Square-Enix, for finally getting it right.

    9/10 - Welch's 'Yahoo' battle cry was annoying enough to drop this down a point, but it stands alone in a game full of good voice acting.

    Plot

    The Little Gamer knew that she was going to have to be a bitch at some point, and this would be that point.

    The main plot is, sad to say, a slightly odd twist on what is a fairly large cliche by this point. Young innocents encounter disaster, encounter mysterious figures who will guide them, and embark on a massive quest to Save Their World. While this is a fun and unexpected variation on the cliche, it is a cliche nonetheless.

    The side-plots are far more interesting. The Little Gamer will refrain from spoilers at this point, but heartily recommends going to the effort of complete Ioshua and Mavelle's plot at least once, and again if you manage to grab Ashlay. You owe it to yourself, especially if tragedy is your thing.

    5/10 - for the main quest
    8/10 - for some of the character-driven side quests

    Gameplay

    Anyone who has played The Second Story or, to a lesser extent, Til The End Of Time (which the Little Gamer still refuses to acknowledge as Canon), should recognise and have little to no problem with the control of this game.

    For those not in the know, in Star Ocean games the battles, although taking place on a different screen to the one being explored, are real time. The player controls only one character out of the four available at the time, while the other three act according to instructions given in the main menu. The controlled character can be changed quickly and easily in battle, so if a certain action needs to be performed right this second, it can easily be set up.

    Although the enemy AI is a little lacking when it comes to the normal battles, character AI is decent and boss AI can be downright frightening. The system does lend itself to controlling your all-important magic-using characters, either to ensure that healing is performed when it's needed, not when the AI sees fit, or to cast spells that have been disabled through the main menu but have become necessary for that particular battle.

    The item creation is quick and relatively easy, although it can easily spiral into something quite scary if you aren't exceedingly careful about how you assign Skill Points. Some crafting is useful from go to woe, while other abilities may only be used once or twice.

    Talents mean that no two plays will be exactly the same, and the same character will not necessarily have the same crafting abilities from one run-through to the next. The only constant is that certain characters will always have the 'Blessing of Mana' Talent, because it governs spell-casting.

    8/10 - the random Talents can be a massive pain and not being able to control your entire party is sometimes more hassle than its worth

    Overall

    Overall, the Little Gamer enjoyed this game. It was smooth, intuitive, surprisingly hard in places and some of the side-plots made her laugh and cry. On the downside, parts of the plot were so cliche it made her groan, even though the writing and characters were enough to mask this most of the time.

    8/10 - great game, but it came so close to being utterly brilliant. Worth a play if you have a PSP.
     
  2. Peter Quincy

    Peter Quincy Member

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    First off - yes to more of these - your writing is a quick and entertaining read, which I greatly appreciate, seeing a most game magazines aren't half as entertaining and are charging money for it.

    I think you gave me a good idea of the game in question and made me want to try it (I'm sort of sad that I don't own a PSP). Depending on what platforms you'd be covering, I'd certainly read your reviews.

    Also, I think you should do this to increase the presence of female gamers in reviewing circles (where they are currently very underrepresented), and gaming in general, since the gender bias won't fade until the perceived status quo changes. For this we need as many vocal female gamers as possible.
     
  3. Xiao_Caity

    Xiao_Caity New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, Peter. I enjoy reviewing games. If this does carry onwards, I'll be reviewing games for Gamecube, PSP, Gameboy, PC and PS1/PS2, and I'll hopefully be able to add DS to that soon too. The games I review will be a mix of new and old, just remember that I'm governed by Australian release dates. I don't have the money for anything next-gen yet (Damn expensive consoles), but a close friend has a PS3 so I'll review a few PS3 games too. Probably starting with MGS4.
     
  4. Grakelin

    Grakelin New Member

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    If a review site by women will keep creepy forummers from hitting on my girlfriend everytime she mentions her gender, I'm all for it.
     
  5. Ramidel

    Ramidel New Member

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    Definitely do this. Female gamers tend to look for stuff that males don't, and often that stuff is the more interesting part of the game.
     
  6. Xiao_Caity

    Xiao_Caity New Member

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    The Little Gamer would like to retract her former comment about T'nique. After having discovered and laughed herself sick at some of his Private Actions, she heartily endorses the werewolf and suggests that anyone interested in a good chuckle grabs both him and Pericchi and heads for Tropp. *snicker*
     
  7. Philes

    Philes Well-Known Member

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    http://www.fragdolls.com/index.php/about

    While you're not new to the girls/gamers thing, I think it's a good idea and I'm totally for it. That said, the best way to get equality on this sort of front is not to go in the opposite extreme like the link above, but to permeate yourselves slowly into the culture (what I perceive as going on now) until it simply becomes the new norm.
     
  8. wobbler

    wobbler Well-Known Member

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    Ah, and it's time for me to jump in.

    I liked the review, and got interested in the game it self.

    unfortunately, it's what's missing that get stuck on your brain.

    Not that is was much..

    I would like (if it's not to much to ask) as short "what is this" sort of thing in the beginning, and a mention on what console the game is for.

    But other than that, great review!
     
  9. Xiao_Caity

    Xiao_Caity New Member

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    Thanks wobbler. I'm thinking I should probably have a section on music as well, seeing as how it's usually one of the things that bugs me most about games.
     
  10. wobbler

    wobbler Well-Known Member

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    Would be a good idea. Music can always bring the game up a notch, or sink it to the bottom.
     
  11. ville-v

    ville-v New Member

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    I wonder why Little Gamer is not preferring to write some ingressus explaining what the game is about so that the review would be easier to get into, but instead begins to explain the most important ascept of the game, movie clips.

    I also wonder why Little Gamer did not take any screenshots.

    Term Little Gamer reminds me of Ristezze, by the way.
     
  12. Xiao_Caity

    Xiao_Caity New Member

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    Well, exactly. Oddly enough, I really enjoyed the music in First Departure. There were the usual annoying tracks for towns that bugged me, but apart from that, the music was catchy and good quality, and the boss music and its variations are a lot of fun.
     
  13. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    You must also adhere to the Code of Reviewers by using a scale going from 0 to 100, with 85 denoting mediocrity.
     
  14. Xiao_Caity

    Xiao_Caity New Member

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    Little Gamer did not take screenshots because she a.) doesn't have the resources to do that and b.) this was a 'dry run', so no pretties for you till I find somewhere to put these things.

    Ingressus? Dear lord, finally someone has found a word I've never heard of. I do plan to polish this review up before I go 'live', this was just a 'get the important stuff sorted so I can make it better and then do even better the next time' kind of thing.

    (Some time next month my copy of Second Evolution will get here. :D I'm not sure 'glowing review' will cover my love of the second Star Ocean game. Fuck Final Fantasy, Star Ocean is the way to go.)

    D.E.: Fuck that. I've been using the 10 scale since forever. I've always found the magazines with the 1-100 scale to be so terribly inaccurate it hurts. Fuck those people, they praised Halo and abused Folklore. Fuck them with a splintered hockey stick.
     
  15. ville-v

    ville-v New Member

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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7765818.stm

    Ingressus of the article is "The US space agency (Nasa) has delayed the launch of its Mars Science Laboratory rover mission."

    In terms of review written by Little Gamer, it could be: "Star Ocean: First Departure is a marriage simulator published on Dreamcast console in 2008. The game features over 200 different weapons and sets no limits on vexing your husband."
     
  16. Xiao_Caity

    Xiao_Caity New Member

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    Right, go figure. Now, for the crack about a marriage simulator... hold still for a minute. *starts wrapping tape around her hands*
     
  17. papa_dog_1999

    papa_dog_1999 Well-Known Member

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    Stop that. I'm trying to get caught up on all the posts I missed over the last two weeks or so. I don't need these tempting distractions.
     
  18. Ramidel

    Ramidel New Member

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    What's wrong with marriage simulators? I mean, if they're accurate, there's never any sex in them, surely that can't be it!
     
  19. Philes

    Philes Well-Known Member

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    Man Ramidel, there's nothing funnier than repeating boring ol' cliches, is there?

    Dating is difficult, black people and white people are different, and airline food is unacceptable.

    There, I've taken your stock of jokes already. Come up with something else. (Yes, I'm in a pissy mood right now).
     
  20. Ramidel

    Ramidel New Member

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    Last night I dreamed I was eating a giant marshmallow.
     
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