A series of Role Playing Games developed by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix (Enix before the merger). All of them are set in the same universe, a high-tech Space Opera, but all of them spend a significant amount of time focusing on a low-tech, high-magic world. The games are known for their fast-paced, real-time battle system, and for the Private Action system that allows the main character to interact with party members in towns, which can affect the ending through changing Relationship Values.
The games in the series are:
So far, every game except The Last Hope has had a manga adaptation.
There is also an anime based on the second game's manga adaptation entitled Star Ocean EX.
Most famously, the creator of this series were the original creators of the Tales (series), leaving Namco due to too much of Executive Meddling getting on their nerves during the development of Tales of Phantasia. The first game is practically a Spiritual Successor to Tales of Phantasia where the battle engine is concerned.
- Action Girl
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Undeveloped Planet Preservation Pact (UP3).
- Bishounen: In every game. To name just one example from each, there's Ioshua from First Departure, Dias from The Second Story/Second Evolution, Albel from Till the End of Time, Faize from The Last Hope...
- Black Magician Girl
- Bonus Boss: And how! This series is infamous for the amount of grinding you'll need to engage in if you want to stand a chance against them. The fact that your maximum level in the first three games is 255 doesn't help things.
- Bonus Dungeon: Sometimes multiple, almost always huge.
- Calling Your Attacks: In pretty much any game with voice acting.
- Canon Shadow: Most common with the first two, which have only four (in the first) and two (in the second) compulsory characters, so the remaining four-to-six you recruit are usually just degraded to making comments about what's happening, although some do have their own subplots that overlap with the reasons for joining. Most of the time, it's a Secret Character who mostly has characterization in Private-Events.
- Welch in the first two.
- Catgirl: The Lesser Fellpool race.
- Conflict Killer: Too many to list. There seems to be a veritable revolving door of villains in this series.
- Day Old Legend: The games do this a lot. It's possible you're just recreating the item for whatever planet you're on, and the Flavor Text is aimed at us, the audience, but still.
- Doing In the Wizard: Anybody from The Federation in all three games will have a Techno Babble explanation for magic... or "symbology" or "heraldry", as it's usually known. For instance, Claude's "Sword of Light"? Actually just his phase gun.
- The End of the World as We Know It
- Evolving Attack: Many of the Killer Moves, especially in The Second Story.
- The Federation: It's rather obvious in the first game they're not even pretending not to rip off Star Trek.
- Genre Shift: For a series that's supposed to be set in outer space, you spend an awful lot of time on undeveloped fantasy planets. The fact that the fourth game has space travel as a core gameplay concept could almost be a Genre Shift in and of itself.
- Guide Dang It: Could very well be renamed Guide Dang It: The Series due to the sheer amount of stuff (including items, skills and recruitable characters) that can be missed unless you know exactly what you're doing at any point.
- Hello, Insert Name Here: Completely averted in the PSP remakes: no matter what you rename your characters, the voice acting still uses canon names [the funny thing is that Star Ocean games let you rename your characters from the Status Menu, meaning you can do it any time you want).
- Human Aliens
- Inevitable Tournament: All four games, though only the second game forces you to compete.
- Infinity+1 Sword
- Instant Messenger Pigeon: Used as the main postal system, and to go shopping in the field.
- Item Crafting: Each game has an Invention system that varies in mechanics from game to game.
- Limited Move Arsenal: Type 1.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Somewhat averted. The first two games (especially the enhanced remake) let you surround tough enemies and just beat them up with melees while the mages try to cast their symbology.
- Multiple Endings: The franchise is known for this. Which is then averted in the fourth game in favor of an unlockable Where Are They Now? Epilogue for each character.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
- One-Winged Angel
- One Steve Limit: Subverted: the Ten Wisemen in The Second Story all have angel names, including Lucifer and Gabriel, but the boss of the bonus dungeon in the same game is also named Gabriel. Till the End of Time also has another Lucifer (Luther in the English version), who is of no relation to the one in The Second Story. Till the End of Time, at least the Japanese versions, use various demonic names for the Sphere staff (Azazel, Beelzebub, Belial). The same applies to The Last Hope. Apparently, the names of the Grigori are based on fallen angels from biblical apocrypha.
- Optional Party Member: In every game.
- Petting Zoo People: Fellpools are humanlike in appearance, but have heightened senses and tails like cats.
- Power Gives You Wings
- Rare Candy
- Relationship Values
- Saving the World: Or universe. No spoilers needed.
- Space Is an Ocean: The name of the entire series. Directly referred to in the first game and the trailer for The Last Hope.
- Spiritual Successor: There are major similarities between Star Ocean and the Tales (series) in gameplay and design: real-time battles with combat skills that burn MP, item creation, food-based healing items that heal in percentages, Private Actions/Skits, Relationship Values leading to Multiple Endings, and so on. This is because Star Ocean was created by the company tri-Ace, a company whose founding members are best described as "Basically everyone who designed Tales of Phantasia at Namco."
- Stuck Items: Phia and Ioshua's accessories.
- Time Travel:
- The Guardian allows this. Again, not even bothering to differentiate from Star Trek. However, its function is expanded greatly in the third game.
- Time Travel becomes a part of the plot of The Last Hope when a wormhole within a black hole sends the crew back in time to planet Earth in the year 1957. After the crew escapes from Earth as the planet itself is being reduced to antimatter, the crew realizes that the Earth through the wormhole was nothing more than an alternate dimension. Of course, this doesn't make Edge feel any better knowing that handing over the ship's energy core for research to save the future led to the planet's complete destruction. Cue Heroic BSOD.
- Title Drop: The Last Hope is very guilty of this, though First Departure does it too.
- Tsundere: That would be Millie and Reimi of First Departure and The Last Hope, respectively. Both are the canon heroines.
- Updated Rerelease:
- The first games in the series were posted to the PSP, marking the first release of the first game in the U.S.
- The fourth game was later released for the Play Station 3 with some new features and characters.
- Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities: Of the "Optional" variety. You can beat the game without investing a point into any non-combat skills... but if you do invest time into them? You reap the rewards!
- Winged Humanoid: The Featherfolk race.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Unsurprising, given the series' anime-ish style; in fact, at least two party members in every game have literal blue hair, including the male leads of the first and third games. Possibly justified in the third game, where both characters with blue hair are genetically-engineered weapons.