With the most recent installment -- Star Ocean: Till the End of Time -- Square Enix hoped to attract more gamers, especially in the United States, where the franchise has not been very popular. The Director's Cut 2 Disc version of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has been released in North America, with more playable characters, more games and additional storyline tangents. As of July 2005, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is a part of Sony's Greatest Hits line, indicating that the game had done reasonably well in North America.
Star Ocean games also take an all-encompassing approach to items. Party members can create new objects or improve existing ones through crafts like metalworking, alchemy, writing, painting and cooking. The strongest items and equipment are only available via Item Creation, and many others can be sold for a profit or provide strong benefits (books can be used to transfer skills and abilities; cooked foods can be used to circumvent the 20-of-each-item inventory limit), placing great importance on Item Creation.
The characters of the series were designed to be "action figure like". A feature consisting in changing the characters' appearance when changing their equipment was considered in the series but was scrapped because of the large amount of characters to design. However, in the later installment of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time the appearance of the characters did in fact change to reflect the type of weapon they were using.
Finally, both the second and third games were somewhat notorious for the renaming of characters whose names contained religious references, which some fans found unusual given the recent association with Square and other RPGs (most famously Xenosaga) who do not omit such references.
Star Ocean gameplay is often compared to the Tales series of video games by Namco, which is not a coincidence: after the release of Tales of Phantasia, practically its entire design department left to found tri-Ace. As a result, many regard the original Star Ocean as a 'spiritual sequel' of Tales of Phantasia; a comment that may be traditionally found at fan-sites describing the first title in the series.
The music featured in Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time can be heard in the game once 165 battle trophies have been obtained.
Star Ocean: The Second Story, released for the PlayStation in Japan in 1998 and North America in 1999. It retains the features of its predecessor while introducing prerendered backgrounds, full motion videos, and 3D battle fields. Taking place in 366 SD, it features a new cast of characters, including Claude Kenni, the son of Ronixis from the original Star Ocean, and Rena Lanford, who both investigate the Sorcery Globe, which has landed on Planet Expel and has been causing disasters ever since.
Star Ocean: Blue Sphere is a direct sequel to The Second Story, released for the Game Boy Color in 2001 in Japan (a North American version was planned but cancelled). Blue Sphere adapts the Star Ocean series to handhelds altering several aspects in the process, including interactive item creation, auto private actions, 2D side scrolling battles, Field Actions, and the removal of random battles. It takes place in 368 SD, two years after The Second Story, and features the return of all twelve main characters as they attempt to solve the mystery of the Planet Edifice and its destructive nature that eradicates the planet's civilizations every 200 years.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time was released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan in 2003. A director's cut of the game with bonus dungeons, new playable characters, a versus mode, and tweaked gameplay was released in 2004, and that version was brought to North America and Europe the same year. Till the End of Time is the first fully 3D game in the series and features fully voiced dialogue. It retains most aspects of the previous games with new features, such as the fury and bonus battle gauge, as well as the ability to patent items created during item creation and recruiting inventors to create items for the player. The game takes place nearly 400 years after the last Blue Sphere, in 772 SD. Fayt Leingod is the main character, and after finding himself separated from his family during an alien attack on a resort planet, is pursued by the same Vendeeni forces across space for reasons beyond his imagination.
Star Ocean: The First Departure is an enhanced remake of the original Star Ocean that will be released for the PlayStation Portable in the U.S. on October 21, 2008. The game was remade using Star Ocean 2's engine, adopting prerendered backgrounds and 3D battle fields, as well as new character art and animated cutscenes provided by Production I.G, and fully voiced dialogue. There are also new playable characters.
Star Ocean: The Second Evolution is an enhanced remake of Star Ocean: The Second Story that was released for the PlayStation Portable on April 3, 2008 in Japan. The U.S. release is slated for January 6, 2009. It was announced alongside First Departure, and features similar enhancements, including fully voiced dialogue, new playable characters, and new character artwork and animated cutscenes provided by Production I.G