Why limit RPGs to a fantasy setting when there's outer space to use? That's a general idea behind the Star Ocean series, although the outer space setting does allow for fantasy-style environments in many cases. The first game for the Super Famicom was a huge cart and basically represented the limits of that console's capabilities. However, it was never released overseas. Now, RPGamers should have a chance to play a remake of the first game for the PlayStation Portable as Star Ocean: First Departure.
"...battles in First Departure use the graphics engine from Star Ocean: The Second Story to good effect..."
The plot of the original game focuses on a young alien defending his planet from a deadly disease with the help of officers from the Earth Federation. This is unchanged from the original game, although the battle mechanics and graphics are unsurprisingly upgraded. Given the technology gap between the Super Famicom and the PSP, battles in First Departure use the graphics engine from Star Ocean: The Second Story to good effect, and it makes for a fun game play experience...if only for the speed boost that comes with the better hardware.
There are also some cinematics that compare in quality to another Square Enix PSP title: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, plus new voice actors are used for a lot of the dialogue. It has been announced that there will be some new playable characters, although who these will be is uncertain. The playable portion of the game on the TGS floor was limited to the first part, sadly.
Let it be said that I am no fan of remakes, and this year's TGS has been full of them. Still, I will let this particular remake slide because it is a title that has not been released overseas at all. As of September 2007, no release dates have been announced for either Japan or overseas, but it wouldn't surprise me that this title finds its way over the Pacific. If this is the case, it's worth taking a look, whether you're a Star Ocean fan or not.