The fourth Star Ocean game is about to be released in a couple of weeks and if you haven't already, check out our latest hands-on preview as well as our video preview. The story is a prequel to the Star Ocean saga, taking place shortly after World War III on Earth. We also had the opportunity to ask developer Tri-Ace a few questions about their sci-fi series, where it is heading and their future plans.
GameSpot: Since Star Ocean: The Last Hope is a prequel to the sci-fi series, we are assuming it's the last one. If so, how does it feel to be working on the latest Star Ocean game?
Star Ocean Development Team: The Star Ocean series that we had originally envisioned concluded with Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, so the fourth installment does not pick up where the third left off, but rather takes place before the first. We haven't yet decided what lies in the future for the Star Ocean series.
GS: How has this series evolved over time? Was this where you expected the series to end up?
SODT: The Star Ocean titles evolved alongside their respective platforms, with one title per hardware for the Super Famicom, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360. We believe we have been able to create fun systems and beautiful graphics that match the capabilities of each system. As mentioned above, Star Ocean: The Last Hope is not the final installment in the series, so it hasn't quite reached the end of the road yet.
GS: What was the decision behind making another Star Ocean game?
SODT: The Star Ocean saga concluded with the third installment. However, the development staff wanted to tell the story behind things, like how the Pangalactic Federation came to be and how the Star Ocean world was created. This desire to tell the full story resulted in the creation of Star Ocean: The Last Hope.
GS: What are your goals for the game?
SODT: We would be happy if not only Japanese players, but players around the globe--whether they are role-playing game fans or play any other types of games--enjoy this great experience, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, for Xbox 360.
GS: What can you tell us about the story? Will there be any surprising or shocking plot twists?
SODT: As with the previous titles in the Star Ocean series, there will be surprising plot twists that are characteristic to the sci-fi genre. Please give the game a try, as I'm sure it will be an entertaining experience for everyone.
GS: The battle system felt very familiar during our last hands-on. What are some of the changes or new additions?
SODT: The real-time action, battles, skills, and special attacks that have been part of Star Ocean's system have been carried on. In addition to these traditional elements, Star Ocean: The Last Hope incorporates a sense of depth to the Star Ocean world with more three-dimensional aspects, such as jumping, and a new system called "blindside" that enables players to jump out of an enemy's line of sight to make a defensive to offensive switch in a matter of seconds. There are also new systems called "rush combo" and "BEAT system" that will give players a chance to enjoy the game in an intuitive or strategic light.
GS: What are some of the notable changes between The Last Hope and Till the End of Time?
SODT: The main difference is in the story. While Star Ocean: Till the End of Time depicts the conclusion of the saga, Star Ocean: The Last Hope depicts its origin.
GS: Will the invention system return? If so, is it the same or are there any changes?
SODT: The invention system is present in this title as well. In the past, this system was used to directly create items; however, in Star Ocean: The Last Hope there is a system called "invention session" that calls the player to craft a recipe for the item before actually creating it.
GS: How long will the game be? What can you tell us in regard to side quests and extras?
SODT: If you play straight through the story, the game should take around 40 to 50 hours. However, there are many immersive elements, such as item creation and collection, side dungeons and quests, so players could probably continue for months if they decide to complete all of these aspects.
GS: What was the inspiration behind the character designs? How did they develop?
SODT: Character designs are always Tri-Ace originals, and I haven't heard that they were ever inspired by something in particular. I believe arriving at the final design was a fairly smooth process. We've also heard that the protagonist looks similar to the one from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time; however, the protective armor on their legs is the only real similarity, and it was not intended to cause any confusion.
GS: Since Motoi Sakuraba has worked on previous Star Ocean games, will we hear new arrangements of previous themes or is there an entirely new tracklist?
SODT: Players can listen to the wonderful original compositions by Motoi Sakuraba in this title as well. We have also intentionally rearranged compositions from the past, so if a fan of the series plays this game, I am sure it will make them happy to hear some of the more familiar tunes.
GS: What else can we expect from Tri-Ace? Is there anything you are working on now?
SODT: Tri-Ace has just been released from a long period of development. We have not started thinking about future projects at this point, but I am confident that we'll be able to introduce great games with the signature "Tri-Ace flavor" in the near future. Please keep an eye out for them.
GS: Thank you for your time!