Star Ocean: The Second Story R is undoubtedly a gorgeous remake, but its new demo seemingly offers a crash course in JRPG visual history.
Spotted by K’eeg on Twitter, the remake actually includes character portraits from all three versions of the classic game. As you can see below, there’s an option to switch between the portrait designs from 1998’s original Star Ocean 2, 2008’s PSP remake, and this year’s upcoming re-release. I'm glad to see that Rena's ears grew back after a temporary shrinkage.
Star Ocean: The Second Story R lets you use the different portraits from various versions of the game and it's extremely funny how obvious it is that one of these is from a 1998 PS1 game, one is from a 2008 PSP game, and one is from a 2023 game pic.twitter.com/YBJN4mDmHGSeptember 15, 2023
K’eeg remarks that it’s “extremely funny” to spot which portrait is from which version. That’s certainly true since each portrait is almost a time capsule looking back at three generations of JRPGs, or at least three generations of anime design tropes. We have the optimistic early anime drawings from the PS1, the cutesy chibi design from the PSP that resembles every anime child from the mid-2000s, and the incredibly detailed portrait from the forthcoming re-release. I love them all for archival purposes, but honestly, Rena’s pointy ears (literally) peaked 25 years ago.
Outside of the menu portraits, The Second Story R emulates an art style that is very much from our current time. The game mixes 3D backgrounds with 2D sprites, almost recreating that beautiful “2DHD” style that Square Enix pioneered with Octopath Traveller.
Star Ocean: The Second Story R releases on PC via Steam, PS5, PS4, and Nintendo Switch on November 2nd. The demo is available on all platforms, so you can switch between (and judge) every character’s portraits for yourself.
Check out our new games of 2023 guide to see everything else coming out this year.