Blue Sphere is a bumpy experience at times and will test your patience through gigantic, complex dungeons and battles of wildly varying difficulty, but it is absolutely worth sticking with. Even if the story doesn’t offer a ton to chew on, it gives a perfectly valid excuse to jump into another adventure with the SO2 cast while also offering some PAs to give you a bit of a glimpse into what these characters have been up to in the two years since their original journey. It’s a true passion project through and through, and irrefutable passion is something that I believe makes tri-Ace really stand out. No matter what you may think of their games, no matter how unbalanced or weird they might seem, there’s no denying that their games are truly singular experiences. I’ve always had a strong appreciation for their craft, and Blue Sphere was a wonder to explore while also being a prime example of their strengths and weaknesses.
Star Ocean EX
And as a different experience compared to the source material, I’d call Star Ocean EX a success. It takes something dear to me and many others and retells it in a way that expands upon its character and world. Even with its downgrades in terms of action and capturing the systems of the game, it manages to add a lot to a cast that already had me by the heartstrings. I know I said that it's about the journey and not the destination, but it really is unfortunate that it was never finished in its intended form because I would have loved to see how everything else played out in this fashion with beautifully represented character designs, lively music, and appropriate voice acting. I admittedly came in not expecting anything particularly special, and I have to imagine it wouldn’t be anything special for people not familiar with the game, but as someone who has been yearning for a replay of Star Ocean 2 but hasn’t quite had the time to squeeze it in, this really helped satisfy that hunger for the time being.
Planet Monsters is what you get if you combine Bomberman, Kickle Cubicle, and Pengo into one strange mixture of a game. It's an interesting concept and it's visually charming, but its single player mode leaves a lot to be desired. Playing against the AI over and over again loses its appeal quickly and the boss fights, while novel enough, don't do enough to keep things interesting. Despite all that, and perhaps it's because I'm a big fan of the GBA, there's something about it that keeps me from outright disliking it. I could see this one being more exciting if you're able to wrangle together people who are actually willing to try it, but good luck with that in 2022...