Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness: The Galaxy Does Have Good Characters After All

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have much hope for the latest installment in the Star Ocean franchise. I wanted to be optimistic, the same way I wanted to be optimistic about the Assassin’s Creed movie or Final Fantasy XV—but near every time I go for optimism, reality has its ways of disappointing me. Integrity and Faithlessness came out after The Last Hope, and The Last Hope is anything but a good game. The plot made no damn sense, the characters are all unlikable, and the massive amounts of sexism and rape culture on top of everything made the game more than unenjoyable.

The Last Hope’s failure ensured that the budget for Integrity and Faithlessness was small, and it sure as hell shows. We only get to visit one planet, the monster designs are all reused from previous games, there are hardly any cutscenes, meaning that it’s possible to walk away from important dialogue, and the plot itself is a little lackluster. It’s not hard to see why the game only has three stars on IGN. Despite all that, though, Integrity and Faithlessness did a really good job with what it had. A lot of effort went into its characters, and following a group of well rounded people more than made up for any of the game’s other shortcomings.

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Magical Mondays: All Alien Planets Are the Same

I love space. I am absolutely obsessed with outer space, exoplanets, and various other things that I don’t fully understand because I don’t science for a living or even go to school to learn how to science. But as someone who reads every science journal I can get my hands on about space and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, I think I’ve reached the point where I have at least a rudimentary understanding of things like gravity. Since I find science super fun, I’ve always been interested in exploring it through a fictional medium where I can vicariously travel to different planets and meet alien life. Stargate, Star Wars, Star Ocean, the new Star Trek movies—why do so many titles have Star in them?—and even Dark Matter and Jupiter Ascending are all right up my alley.

But one of the things that has always annoyed me about these stories is the lack of variety on the planets they go to visit. This is significantly less true for Star Wars and Star Trek, which feature a wide array of alien life and habitats, but in the end, the only way I can conclude that physics works the way it does in too many of these stories is because of magical plot convenience.

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Magical Mondays: Time Travel in Storytelling

stargate-sg1Time travel is not my favorite storytelling trope, if only because if not done well it can leave a narrative more than a little confusing and hard to follow. This can especially be a problem when a narrative jumps around in time completely out of order and without warning, which is something that both Final Fantasy XIII and The Grudge did. This trope’s big crime, however, is that it all too often results in plot holes or creates events that either cannot happen or that nullify the importance of other events. Worse yet is when the time travel in question has no actual impact on the rest of the story and ends up being a pointless waste of time. A good example of this would be Star Ocean: The Last Hope, where Edge goes back in time to an alternate reality of Earth, blows it up, and the entire subplot serves no purpose other than to turn an otherwise generic protagonist into a detestable murderer.

That is not to say that time travel itself cannot be used well. Plenty of stories have utilized it in ways that improve their narrative and add to the plot and worldbuilding. There is, however, a wide chasm between creative and cliché, and for every good use of time travel, there’s a dozen or so bad uses.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Drag by Pikachumaniac

Star Ocean posterWith the new game coming out soon, I’ve been on a bit of a Star Ocean craze. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is certainly one of the better games I’ve played for the PS2, but one of the things it lacked was LGBTQ+ representation. Fanfiction to the rescue.

Trigger warning for rape and trauma after the jump.

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Throwback Thursdays: Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Star Ocean coverStar Ocean: Till the End of Time is quite possibly one of my favorite games. Released in 2003 for the PS2, I found the game to be extremely well made and fun, even though the story did have some problems. Also, a couple of the voice actors are really bad. Like, exceedingly ear-bleeding bad. That said, overall, this game is certainly better than Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Not only does Till the End of Time really go out of its way to develop its worlds, it doesn’t rely on or subject its characters to pointless and offensive stereotypes. While this game does follow a male protagonist and was clearly marketed to boys, I can’t quite say that there was ever a time when the roles given to the female characters made me groan in disbelief and annoyance.

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Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, Hope for the Future, and Character Designs

Star Ocean 5Well, guys, it’s finally happening. The fifth Star Ocean game is almost upon us, and I don’t know whether to be happy or horrified. I really want this game to do well, if only because I love the Star Ocean series—well, I love the third game, at least—and considering SO4’s less than stellar reception, I can only hope that Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness will be the improvement the franchise needs it to be. Unfortunately, there are some things about what I’ve seen of the game so far that have left a rancid taste in my mouth.

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Magical Mondays: The Last Hope and the Virgin Sacrifice

Star Ocean SarahIt’s been a while since I’ve played Star Ocean: The Last Hope, and to make a long story short, I was significantly unimpressed with the game. Although the game does boast many female characters—more playable women than men, even—it does deal in several offensive stereotypes. And those stereotypes are hard to ignore.

We have Reimi, our main female lead who constantly cries rape and sexual harassment for no reason—and if there is a reason, the narrative uses it as a source of humor. We have Lymle, our five-year-old who ends up in a pseudo-romantic relationship with someone at least ten years older than her. There’s Meracle, our scantily clad cat girl. There’s also Myuria, our obligatory big-busted girl who the camera can’t stop zooming in on. And last but not least, we have Sarah, our mild-mannered, angelic, virginal Featherfolk—someone born with angel wings—who is kidnapped by an evil syndicate to be used as a blood sacrifice in order to call forth a powerful deity that will rein holy hell down upon a planet. And the syndicate in question chooses Sarah because she’s a virgin.

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