AuthorTopic: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere  (Read 34684 times)

Offline Panda

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Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

on: February 05, 2009, 01:29:52 pm


Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Platform: GameBoy Color
Developer: tri-Ace
Pubisher: Enix



Game Intro


Star Ocean: Blue Sphere is a GameBoy Color game released in 2001, but since it never made it to the west, its existance is unknown for many.


Like the other entries on the series, Blue Sphere is an RPG, featuring a real time battle system. But unlike the previous ones, the enemy encounters are not random as you see all the monster sprites wandering around the screen.
Once you engage battle the game changes from top view to side scroller view, allowing you to move the characters when attacking for extra battle influence (which by the way, have rather comical, but nice animations).



World View, Menu, Battle, Accesories and Weapons, and Bestiary screens


But enough about the gameplay. If you take into account the limitations on the GBC, you can see the clever usage of tiles all over the place.
As you can see in the screenshots, the perspective changes constantly and even appears mixed, as ptoing put it, "it is all over the place.










Anyway, have fun examining the game screens.

Offline pixeltao

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #1 on: February 05, 2009, 06:06:57 pm
Wow! I'm always impressed by how limitations lead to better artwork. This GBC game looks better than a lot of GBA/DS titles. Btw, thanks for the nice discovery, I didn't know this little gem.

Offline vierbit

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #2 on: February 05, 2009, 09:35:29 pm
Well I wouldnŽt go so far to say it looks better than most GBA/DS games (atleast not from a technical point), but
the artist surely know what they were doing here. The tiling on the intro screens looks very good.

Its also interesting how many different view angles they used. Apart from "classic" topdown and isometric, there is also
another were the action is showed from the side (maybe I find a sreen of it).

IŽll rip the screenshots apart and post later a few things.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #3 on: February 05, 2009, 10:32:29 pm
Open this up in VisualBoyAdvance, go to Emulator/Tile Viewer and on the window that pops up check "update in real time" then go trough the game and be amazed....really, there's nothing like staring at those diminute tilesets and see all they do with them AS YOU PLAY IT.......plus since this is GBC the hero team is in the OBJECTS layer, while the enemies are BACKGROUND, so you can turn each of them off to watch their actions closely without overlapping!

That's practically the whole reason I reccomended this for a CC!

Sadly, the game is an RPG in japanese...so no fun to play, but fear not! for I have savestates with strong characters in key areas! (if you speak spanish there's also a 10% translation out there)
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
SAVESTATES
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
for all areas
http://uploaded.to/?id=o5yup5
...make sure u browse around, some of these are at points where each door will lead into a completely different looking area.

These are all of the savestates,
http://uploaded.to/?id=wowrit
I made the other zip by teleporting to all areas from the first savestate here.
They were given to me by HiroyValesti and KalmTraveller(Gillian)  and have the game in diferent completition levels in case u wanna check that out. (the .SAV didnt work for me but it's supposed to have the "full monster gallery" so you can check out all the enemies at any time)
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
CHEATS
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
This is so you dont worry about losing and just focus on seeing the animations when fighting (they are very good!).

http://www.gamefaqs.com/portable/gbcolor/file/198762/29073
Quote
------------------------------
Codes
------------------------------
1st Slot Infinite HP - 91ffddcf
2nd Slot Infinite HP - 91ffddd0
3rd Slot Infinite HP - 91ffddd1

1st Slot Infinite MP - 91ffe1d0
2nd Slot Infinite MP - 91ffe1d1
3rd Slot Infinite MP - 91ffe1cf

Infinite Cash - 91ff60c3 and 91ff61c3

Infinite SP - 91ff62c3 and 91ff63c3

------------------------------
How to use the codes properly
------------------------------

Well I've tested some of the codes on my Gameboy Color and in the computer
itself.

For the HP and MP codes you can keep it on for the rest of the game if you like
feeling invincible.And these only work in battle.

For cash you should really switch off the codes after buying what you want or
every single item in your inventory could be glitched, so be careful.

Infinite SP is one of my favourite codes in the game!!It lets you distribute as
many points as you want to ALL characters in your current party.Note that if
your stats are to high you have a 40% chance of not being able to learn any new
techniques.

Note:If the codes don't work for some reason replace the 91XXXXXX with 01XXXXXX
instead.If that doesn't work email me.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________
BACKGROUNDS
______________________________________________________________________________________________________


http://www.rpgfan.com/pics/so-bs/index2.html <-Animated screenshots
This game's graphics are all about being epic with just the barebones.

----------------------------------------------------CRASH SITE TILING----------------------------------------------------

Paraphrasing http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?topic=2574.msg31670#msg31670

This is the Crash Site tileset. it cycles trough several of the colors it goes trough to display all of the maps you see in the forest area.
But all of the foilage you see in these screens is made by using just these tiles.




If you pay attention, you'll see that there's something much like the C64 pictures of Ptoing's and Helm's going on here, in that the tiles are calculated so they only use 4 colors but can still have many objects of different colors seamlessly.

----------------------------------------------------BUSHY ROAD TILING----------------------------------------------------

This tileset
  generates all these twisting paths

Tileset
This is a more straight road, with some added forest eye candy, I just think it's always nice to see how the few tiles have so much use

----------------------------------------------------PURPLE CIRCUIT TILING----------------------------------------------------

Tileset1





Tileset2


  Told ya to lower your expectations Gillian! I know this is probably one of the last areas, and it looks good! but I only know it's purple and it's got circuitry so I called it Purple Circuit area :p
----------------------------------------------------AQUA----------------------------------------------------

  Tileset


----------------------------------------------------BOKTAI PERSPECTIVE AREA----------------------------------------------------
Tileset







----------------------------------------------------BEATEMUP CLIFFS----------------------------------------------------


Tileset





                                       





----------------------------------------------------CAVES TILING----------------------------------------------------
it's hard to convey how impressive this area is with only screenshots.

This little tileset creates lots of twisting paths
Compare this to this. As you progress you slash around opening new paths, and the way they are revealed always seems organic


Tileset 2
I've only gotten this far, so maybe that second tileset reveals more than what I shown here
______________________________________________________________________________________________________
SPRITES
______________________________________________________________________________________________________

----------------------------------------------------YOUTUBE COMPILATION----------------------------------------------------
Here's a playlist for ya, the most impressive vids I could find of the game on youtube
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D594C2C30BBE54FA
Animation in this game mostly keyframes overshots and anticipation....very few inbetweens...and I love that! they give me that 80's anime feel you get from Thundercats intro....Saint Seiya...DBZ...shows like that.


----------------------------------------------------GIFS----------------------------------------------------

Here are some hero animations

Here's a little whipping plant that caught my eye...this is not the exact timing but I figure it's likely close.

With that little plant in particular it's mostly just the ellegant way in which they pull off something as uncontrollable as a whip with a few cleverly picked frames.


PS:Has anyone got savestates close to the bosses? I only fought that first rat boss and I thought he looked incredible.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 05:59:06 pm by Conceit »

Offline crab2selout.png

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #4 on: February 06, 2009, 02:25:56 am
The background/foreground/sprite separation is awesome. The forest scenes especially are fantastic. Very smart how they employ those shades of greens and instructive how one simple shade of dark green can so easily affect the depth of an image.



Some of these have really got me rethinking my approach to separating the foreground and background. I tend to simplify my backgrounds(ground/grass) and pour the detail into foreground(sprites, trees, interactive elements), but there's lots of examples of busy and high contrasting floor tiles workign jsut fine


I like hte detail in this one. Teh tattered carpet, none of the icrcle symbols are exactly alike, the snady tiled floor.

Offline ilkke

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #5 on: February 06, 2009, 07:43:15 pm
I've eagerly awaited this game to come out back in the day cause of it's awesome graphics and animation. Too bad that we can't have the screenshots with colors closer to actual GBC display.

This is a very low quality video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT8TF-EjSy0
but it gives you the basic idea of how much the colors differ from the emulator. As you can see, the FG/BG differentiation is even more pronounced.
i

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #6 on: February 06, 2009, 08:16:36 pm
Well, VisualBoy DOES have a "gameboy colors" mode, we can get a screen of that and compare it with the vid.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #7 on: February 07, 2009, 01:05:21 am
GBC has 15 bit colour, like every nintendo handheld since then. Colourdifferences to your PC monitor = shit screen on account of nintendo.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Gillian Seed

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #8 on: February 09, 2009, 06:01:43 pm
Conceit kindly linked me to this topic (after finding my videos on Youtube) so I thought I might post about some of the more interesting graphics/animations in Blue Sphere.

I can't offer much of a critique in terms of technical skill but there are a lot of very nice animations which I thought you might want to look at.

You probably know that Blue Sphere was made on the largest Game Boy cart available and it's (supposedly) part of the reason why it was never bought outside of Japan (there isn't enough space for all the English characters/text) which goes to show just how much tri-Ace packed into the game.


I made gifs of some of my favourite animations. They're not timed perfectly, they're really just things that I liked which you might want to look at in-game. First the Edifan Kings in Aqua:



They look as though they are producing the light from within their bodies. It's a nice effect which stood out.


My favourite battle animation is probably the final attack in Ashton's short combo chain:



It's interesting how he slaps his twin swords together to form one giant sword which he brings down on the enemy. I think the little bounce of the sword at the end of the animation is meant to signify that the sword is so heavy that Ashton just lets it fall on the enemy and that it hits the floor with a bounce afterwards.

Another great thing in battle is when you get a long combo going - with each extra combo the background/foreground (which both move at independent speeds) increase in speed until they're rushing past. Even though it's something you might not consciously notice every time, I think it makes long combos more intense.


For enemies I really like the force at which certain enemies rush you. The bee enemies zoom back and forth creating long trails. There are also the Dragon Warriors which literally rush into your face and then slam a sword into you. There are also enemies that roll up or spin around (like the frog enemies) and come at you. I think the way that the sprites move around at high speed whilst still looking smooth is a real accomplishment.

And a couple of enemy attacks:

The frog's laser beam which creates nice highlights on it's metal body:



And one of Rival's forms during the final boss fight:



I just chose this because it looks impressive.


One other thing I really liked are the few areas where you can look out from a high vantage point and see other landmarks. For example, on the way to Knott you can take a detour through an old building to a dead end area, on top of a cliff, where you can see Knott (with the huge disc of Grand Knott above it). Then if you go back to this area later, after Grand Knott has detached and flown off, you'll see that it's missing in the background. There's no reason you ever HAVE to visit this area, but it's yet another nice touch that tri-Ace put in.

That's all I could think to mention, but if you want to see pictures of anything specific then I'll try and help.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #9 on: February 09, 2009, 09:52:58 pm
Hey there Gillian, you're KalmTraveller right? glad to see you here welcome to the way of the pixel!  ;D :P, I think you might not understand that we're not too familiar with the game, the "Commercial Critique" topics are about deconstructing a game that looks good, but that does not mean the pixelation comunity is familiarized with the game, much less so with a japanese only RPG such as StOB!

Most will only know what has been said in this topic, so dont expect us to know the areas of the game, or any of the plot at all! that's why I think it'd be beneficial to have you around, so we can converse with you about things that are a bit hard to figure out without knowing japanese.

On the picture offer.... we certainly would apreciate visualization of any of the things you mentioned! savestates would be great too (at least in my oppinion...I thought people would be more crazy about that :p)

I know exactly what you mean about the zipping bees. I was pretty amazed by that too...it seemed like they actually used economy of frames as an advantage rather than a hinderance.

Those 3 Aqua dudes I think dont look as impressive outside their context

EDIT: So you're walking around a shore
  and when you reach this corner this merman dude pops outta nowhere
asks you wether you'll go to the Aqua area...
...BAM you get teleported
After browsing around you meet the aqua kings in their throne

EDIT: Updated original post with area pictures for the aqua, the beatemup and boktai styled areas

----------------------------------------------------PERSPECTIVE----------------------------------------------------
I think by now we've all noticed this game does

Topdown

Isometric

Boktai perspective

and Beatemup pespective

All while using the same overworld sprites...how can that be?
« Last Edit: February 12, 2009, 06:07:24 pm by Conceit »

Offline robotacon

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #10 on: February 14, 2009, 09:18:14 pm
I really like the use of different perspective. It shouldn't work but the game doesn't give a damn and it looks great.
Every tile set seems to have different saturation to give some extra distinction.
The tiles, specially the foliage, are amazing. Seamless!

But I don't think they've used the frames in the character animations to its full potential.
The loops with 6 frames look more like they only have 3 frames. I've seen loops with 4 frames that look better.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #11 on: February 18, 2009, 03:59:55 am
The GIFS I posted here are barely an example of what I mean, if you really want to get an inkling of the animation look at the battle videos in the youtube playlist I linked to.

The saturation thing...I actually started ripping using a different saturation when Ilkke pointed out the gameboy displayed the art less saturated, I wanted to post here what the creators aimed to show....so that might account for some of the saturation differences you spotted

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #12 on: February 18, 2009, 04:55:23 am
Me and conceit were chatting about star ocean

me: obviously, the tile work is amazing
the economy is unmatched imo, atleast for a gbc game
him: you can try n piece it together...it's not often you get tilesets that clear with maps right there
me: but I think some of the color ramps could have been better
like the green forest
could have had some of the greens go towards blue or yellow, without affecting priority
him: consider the desaturation in GBC
me: true
him: well go and post that
anything is good by this point in time
me: but apparently blues translate similarly well as greens do
can i just copy paste this convo?
sure
yummy: cupcakes

« Last Edit: February 18, 2009, 05:22:53 am by Ryumaru »

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #13 on: April 24, 2009, 02:02:49 am
This really is fantastically impressive. I'm left wondering how difficult it'd be to achieve the same results with the forests if the tiles were 32x32 instead of 8x8. On magnifying them to try and mimic the style, I get lost in giant blocks >.< some illusions seem more achievable with smaller tiles, let alone time spent drawing.
Now reading: Animator's Survival Kit, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, Fun With A Pencil. No time to pixel!
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Offline Conzeit

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #14 on: April 24, 2009, 07:50:09 pm
oh yes it would be very hard. I mean unless you upscaled everything and made the trees like the size of a SOCBS screenshot

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #15 on: July 16, 2009, 07:29:34 am
Folk may be excited to hear there's a remake of this happening for the mobile phone. It looks like it has larger tiles - an animated image under the 'world' section shows the forest & crash section remade with a lot more shading. Either 16x16 or something odd.

http://www.square-enix.co.jp/mobile/sem/sobs/ - if the images don't load, switch to another menu option and then return. Many other images of backgrounds available per character clicked on. :)
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Offline Conzeit

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #16 on: July 23, 2009, 12:31:26 pm
Cool. thanks for the heads up scribblete  ;D Does it keep the sharp look and timing? always that I've looked at other entries in the series it seems like they waste the extra resources on smoothing the actions too much and making the graphics too photoshoppy....hence my obsession with SoBS
« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 12:42:45 pm by Conceit »

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #17 on: July 24, 2009, 04:56:13 am
All I've seen of it are the screenies at the site. If you click characters and go to individual ones, it shows the animated sprites. *grumbles about them getting away with one idle and one mirrored walk frame as a four frame animation while everyone tells him to actually pay attention to RL*

They're also visible under 'system' and watch for the page 2 tabs.
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Offline happymonster

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Re: Commercial Critique - Star Ocean: Blue Sphere

Reply #18 on: October 22, 2009, 04:25:56 pm
This does look great, has anyone also looked in more detail at the sprites? I especially like the way they keep the early Final Fantasy style faces, whilst offering more variety in sizes of character than can be shown in 16 x 16. For example some characters are big and bulky, others are skinny and small, etc.. I think it looks like the maximum vertical size is 32 pixels. Has anyone else seen this style used in other games?