By Operation Rainfall / September 18th, 2023
While we here at Operation Rainfall love covering the latest in gaming news and sharing our reviews of titles new and classic, we also just enjoy playing games in our downtime. So with that, sit back, relax, and check out what the oprainfall gaming crew have been up to this week!
So if you’ve followed me at all, you know I love Star Ocean. You also know that Star Ocean 2 is my favorite game in the series. And guess what dropped this week? That’s right, the Star Ocean: The Second Story R demo! Of course I had to play it. And despite the screenshot above, I went with my girl Rena, because as cool as Claude is, he isn’t half as cute as her.
The demo lets you play the opening three hours of the game up until the end of Krosse Cave or time expires, and you get to import your save data to the final version when it releases in November. Excellent start! (It was one of my bigger qualms with the SO6 demo, but you should also play that, because it’s a good game despite its faults.) The game has been significantly overhauled, with fresh new backgrounds and 3D environments, a revamped battle system that incorporates a new Break mechanic, and fully rearranged music by original composer Motoi Sakuraba. Rather than random battles, enemies appear on screen as different colored blobs that you can interact with by choice, making it easier to get in back attacks. You can choose between the PS1 SO2 or Star Ocean: Second Evolution Japanese voices, or the English SO2E voices (sadly no PS1 English voices here, for those of us nostalgic for them), or mix and match them by each character. You can also toggle between the arranged and original soundtrack on a whim. For the menus, you can swap between the original PS1 artwork, Second Evolution, and SO2R‘s, depending on preference.
One of my favorite additions is the Friendship Level status, so you can easily keep track of your affection levels for each party member. Gone are the days where you were certain you had a specific ending in the bag only to find out that no, Claude actually hated you because you pickpocketed someone. Considering this game is notorious for having over 80 possible ending combinations, that’s a lot of affection levels to keep track of. Other additions are the previously noted Break mechanic, as well as an Assault move that calls forth the protagonists of the other Star Ocean games to help you deal damage. As for Break, enemies now have what amounts to a shield, and you can deplete that shield to break their stance and momentarily stun them by performing regular attacks or dodging and countering. Putting an enemy in Break status significantly lowers their defense so you can punish them, while also rewarding you with orbs you collect during battle. Once you reach a specific threshold of orbs, you get a stat bonus (higher attack, better evasion, etc). Having an enemy break your guard or getting a back attack against you will reset this bonus counter. It’s a nice reward for smart play but also doesn’t punish you for messing up, since battles are relatively easy, at least on Galaxy difficulty. I can see this being a game changer for later hard bosses, though.
Oh, you can also fish now! Every good RPG should have a fishing mini-game. This one is simple but enjoyable, with just simple button presses, but it does give you more to do in the world, and I welcome that.
Honestly, there’s a ton to this demo that I could gush about, but you really owe it to yourself to give it a try. Fans of the original SO2 will find a lot to love here, as Gemdrops went out of their way to make the game as close to the PS1 version as possible while also adding in some welcome QoL updates like fast travel. There were a few text issues but those shouldn’t be hard to fix before the November launch, and they weren’t so egregious as to take me out of the game. I love the customizability of the voices and menus and how it reflects all the versions of this game that have come before. SO2R is shaping up to be a real love letter to Star Ocean. I cannot wait for the full game’s release.
I spent most of my gaming week playing a game I’m embargoed on at the moment, but I will tease and tell you it’s much better than I expected. The rest of this week I was playing Mugen Souls Z. At first it was just to finish the review, but then I dug into the post game a bit. I forgot how much you have to grind to beat these end game bosses. Even with the ridiculous amount of stuff the DLC gives you, it’s still not nearly enough. The Mugen Field being better in this game does make this a much easier task thankfully. – Steve
What games have you been playing this week? Let us know in the comments!
You can read previous Week in Gaming entries here!
DemoGemdropsMugen Souls ZSO2SO2RSquare EnixStar Ocean 2Star Ocean 2RStar Ocean The Second StoryWeek in Gaming