Anyone who considers themselves an avid gamer typically has to deal with the same universal problem every time a game is announced – the wait. More often than not, these are games that are made in Japan. Most gamers do not want to deal with the frustration of playing a game that they can’t read, so they wait for the release that may never come. However some gamers, like myself, decide to take the plunge and try a game out anyways. Especially if it’s something that i’m fairly excited about, I’ll deal with the not understanding the broader story for a chance to try it out and get a feel for it.
That said, my review this week will be on the mobile game Star Ocean: Anamnsis (SO:A from here on out). Ah Star Ocean! One of the greatest RPG series of all time. Many people probably started with the second installment in the series, Star Ocean the Second Story which came out in the US on the Playstation 1 in 1999. That’s where I started and ultimately got hooked.
Star Ocean has been one of those RPG series that has taken sci-fi elements as well as high fantasy elements and somehow wove them into a cohesive game that isn’t all over the place. The franchise started on the Super Famicom, and has been on PSX, PS2, Gameboy Color, PSP, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and mobile platforms. SO:A is another in a long line of gashapon style games that require you to spend a specified currency to summon heroes to fight for you. Nothing new there. Actually if anything, the mobile market is frustratingly flooded with these types of games and more often than not, none of them offer a different experience than the other. SO:A however is different in the fact that when it comes to the actual combat, it’s almost exactly how you would expect an SO game to play. But more on that later.
Coro just before destroying planet Vegeta.
The story of SO:A is that you are a captain of a Pangalactic Federation starship exploring deep space. A surprise attack by some pirates forces the ship to evacuate via escape pods while the captain (You) and an annoying robot named Coro (amusingly voiced by Ryusei Nakao who also voiced such memorable characters as Freiza and Cooler) remain on the ship and attempt to make a jump to hyperspace.
The jump doesn’t go as planned and you and Coro end up somewhere outside of Federation territory. Deciding to investigate the closest planet, you encounter a mysterious woman who calls herself Ivlish. She possesses a rare and powerful form of symbology that allows her to summon heroes from across time. After that it basically becomes Star Trek Voyager all up in there for the rest of the game.
Go away Shimada. Why do I keep drawing you?
SO:A falls somewhere after Integrity & Faithlessness and before Til the End of Time. If you’re familiar with the Star Ocean universe, that makes sense. If you just happened to look the games up and are confused? Yup.
Needless to say, Ivlish is able to summon all of your favorite heroes from every Star Ocean game, some character you didn’t care about, and even villains! There’s already been some crossover events for Resonance of Fate as well as Valkyrie Profile characters.
Ye olde mission map.
As mentioned, this is your typical run of the mill gashapon style game at it’s core. You get story missions that you can do to progress in the story, you also get side missions and dailies that you can do as well. You can level up your characters using different types of XP materials (some universal, some class based) as well as weapons and accessories for those characters.
Like with other games, you can rank up the characters and increase their rarity by hitting their max level and then breaking that limit to add another 10 levels. Rarity goes from 3-6 stars. If there is a rarity under 3, I’ve yet to encounter it.
There are five different classes to be found in the game. Attacker, Defender, Shooter, Healer & Caster. Naturally you’ll want to level up as many of these classes as you can in order to properly deal with more powerful enemies, such as the hard mode versions of some of the event fights.
Two 5*s?! Oh HELLS yes.
While this seems like a silly thing to cover, I’ve actually found that the rates in this game seem to be pretty good. I’ve played some games (*coughFEHeroescough*) where you go and blow your currency on summoning the max number of summons, and you end up with all shit-tier units. SO:A does not seem to be like this. I’ve only had one instance where I did a 10 draw and didn’t get a single 5* unit. Although to be fair, the 10 draw I did just prior to that snagged me two 5*. So I’m not complaining.
Lightspeed Kenny using his rush attack.
Combat is where I think this game really shines. We’ve all played gashapon style games that more or less mimic each other. Anywhere from 3-6 characters in a party, classic RPG style battle system that is entirely turn-based. SO:A plays almost exactly like a Star Ocean game. You get a party of three characters plus one guest/rental character. When you get into the battle, you can choose to play any of those characters at any time. When you’re not using a character, that character will be in AI mode until you choose to switch back.
The field of battle is essentially a big circle that you can move around and try to position yourself in a favorable manner. Characters have short range and long range attacks that come into play when strategist for a certain enemy. At rank 3 & 4, a character has two attacks they can use and a rush attack that can be used once your gauge fills up. At ranks 5 & 6 you get your third attack for that character.
The rush attacks can be chained one after the other as long as all the gauges happen to be filled up. This doesn’t create any sort of special effect, but you can chain together some massive damage without worry of enemy interruptions. Some Rush attacks can be kinda meh visually, whereas others such as Michael/Decus’ Spicule, are pretty cool to watch.
They can smell the American on me..
Another cool feature that isn’t exactly new to these types of games, is actual multiplayer capabilities. You have the ability to join or create a multiplayer room on pretty much any map. Whether it be an MSQ map, or a special event, you can set one up and play with other real life players. If you create a room, you’re able to decide what roles you need for a particular fight and those roles will be filled as needed. This way you don’t end up with a party of all attackers and get wiped out in 2.5 seconds.
The only downside to the multiplayer that I’ve encountered so far, is that I’ve never found any available games and I’ve never had anyone join any of my rooms. This could have something to do with the fact that I’m playing a game with people who are 16 hours ahead of me. Or maybe there’s only certain dungeons that people join up to fight in. I’m not sure. But so far multiplayer has been a bust for me.
Now if you’re a fan of Star Ocean or Tales of games, you’re familiar with the legendary works of composer Motoi Sakuraba. Sakuraba has done the soundtrack for every Star Ocean game to date, and, much to my immense joy, SO:A is no different. The fast paced, epic compositions that Sakuraba is known for help make SO:A feel like more of a full-fledged Star Ocean game and less like another one of a million gashapon game.
Michael/Decus about to heat things up.
When it comes to mobile games, I don’t always have great expectations on graphics. Especially these types of games. I look at examples such as Fate/Grand Order or Fire Emblem Heroes. And while they’re fun, there’s not a whole lot to look at. SO:A looks really good though. I mean we’re talking like solid PS2 era graphics here, but still. It looks good and I haven’t experienced any lag or slow-down when things get crazy in the middle of a battle.
Actual picture of Squenix praying that you just dropped a bunch of money on this summon.
I’ve played my fair share of games like this. From Fate/Grand Order, Fire Emblem Heroes, to this. Yeah they all operate on the same core idea that they want you to spend that money on miscro-transactions to get that character you so desperately want. I don’t have much of a qualm with that personally. They gotta make money and people are silly enough (i.e. me) to spend the money to get that unit.
Some of these games are able to pull it off an still make a game that is fun and holds your interest. Some, not so much. Typically the allure runs off as soon as you get that character you want or you never get that character you want while all of your friends have got it 6 times over.
I will have to say that I was excited when I heard through Twitter that SO:A was even a thing. I didn’t know anything about it, but I wasted no time in booting up QooApp on my phone and downloading it immediately. I’m also a bit of a Star Ocean fan, so maybe there’s some bias to my opinion. But I really do feel like this game kind of breaks away from the typical gashapon style mobile game based off of a long-time running RPG series and becomes closer to the source material.
I’m hoping that this game gets an english release. It’s been out in Japan since December of last year. I haven’t been able to find any solid information on whether or not there will even be an english release. We can hope! But if you don’t want to wait and think you can deal with not understanding the story, give this a shot. If you do happen to play, my ID is KPS4J2TPFD – Add me!
I’ll see ya all on the other side of the star ocean, friends.
Rem’s Mobile Game Score (Max of 5 per category)
- Playability: 5
- Graphics: 5
- Story: 5
- Music: 5
- Multiplayer: 2
- P2W Fairness: 5
- Stability (Servers): 5
- Battery: 2