Best bits of 2023: A twin dragon exorcism in STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R

We’re celebrating our favorite gaming moments of 2023. Today, we get Creepy and Weepy on one of our favorite quests from the game.
By Duncan Heaney

In this new series, the Square Enix Blog team looks at some of our favorite moments from throughout the year and why we think they stand out. To be clear, we're not declaring them to be the pinnacle of the game, merely one of many moments that stand out. So don't get cross at us if you disagree, okay?

One quirk of working for Square Enix is that there’s an assumption that you’ve played every game in the company’s vast history. Of course, that’s simply not the case - there are quite a few gems that I missed out on, one of which was the original STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY, and its PSP remake STAR OCEAN SECOND EVOLUTION.

So, I had been greatly looking forward to this year’s release of STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R - a beautiful new remake of that classic game. What I didn’t expect was just how enraptured I would be by this endlessly charming RPG. The story is interesting, the characters are extremely likeable, the combat is deliriously satisfying, the potential for customization is wild, the music is delightful…

I could go on and on with the plaudits, but suffice to say, playing through has been one of the highlights of my year. If you haven’t played it yet, consider this my strongest recommendation.

It’s hard to identify where my like for the game turned into adoration, but I think it may have happened during a simple side quest involving the character of Ashton… and his unwanted dragon companions Creepy and Weepy.

What happens in this subquest?

One of the incredible things about STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R is that two players can have different experiences based on the protagonist they pick (Claude or Rena) and the characters they recruit on their adventures. It’s entirely possible some of you never met Ashton, so let me introduce him just in case.

Ashton Anchors is a character who can be recruited during the early sections of the game, as Claude, and Rena explore their first continent on Expel. Before heading overseas, the two can return to Salva Mines and help deal with a two-headed dragon that’s causing havoc.

The heroes head into the mine to confront the beast, but discover a swordsman already locked in combat with the beast. This swordsman is Ashton and due to some… unfortunate events, he ends up having the surprisingly talkative two-headed dragon fused on his back.

Understandably, Ashton wants rid of his surprisingly benign passengers, which Rena dubs ‘Creepy’ and ‘Weepy’. This kicks off a hugely enjoyable subquest, in which you investigate a method to separate them.

The investigation, which is entirely optional, reveals there a ritual that can remove the dragons. The journey to complete the ritual will take you to a couple very memorable dungeons and some equally memorable surprises.

But when all’s said and done, and Ashton gains the ability to remove his dragons, what will his final decision be…?

What do we love about this subquest?

This small, entirely optional section of the game isn’t particularly flashy, especially compared to some of the incredible moments in the main scenario. It does, however, encapsulate everything that makes this game such a joy. Here are just few reasons why:

The characters are at their most characterful

My word, this game has personality! Quests like this one give the characters a chance to break free from the excitement of the main story and just… hang out.

We get to see Rena’s caring and Claude’s assertiveness play out in entertaining ways, but it especially highlights Ashton. Despite his skills with the blade, this surprisingly timid swordsman is constantly denied dignity in hilarious ways. He blusters and rages at the others for causing his predicament, but secretly, he’s happy to be along for the ride - something this section of the game explores that to great comedic effect

The dungeons are enormously satisfying

The two dungeon areas that form part of this quest are most memorable. The Mountain Palace is massive, full of nooks and crannies that hide some very useful treasures that can be of great help - especially if collected early on in the adventure.

Lasgus Mountain, on the other hand, is a straightforward climb to the summit, but it’s an area that truly showcases the stunning 2.5D art style. It’s a beautiful area that shows how well the 3D world and 2D sprites gel together in the game.

Both are full of entertaining monsters to battle too. STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R’s combat is flashy, fast-paced and satisfying - a fight against standard enemies often takes a matter of seconds, and by the time you finish, you’re immediately craving another round.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying they’re really fun.

The conclusion is silly and heartwarming

I won’t spoil how the quest ends here, but rest assured it’s funny, positive and leaves a big smile on the face. STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY R is a game with a lot of heart and shines through in the denouement to the quest.

I challenge even the stoniest-hearted person to not crack a smile when it’s all said and done.

This is just one of many amazing moments in the game - and it’s one that some players might not even see. But don’t worry if you missed it - there are many equally uplifting and memorable adventures to be had in the game beyond, some of which I probably didn’t find on my first playthrough!

If you’re yet to experience this absolutely stellar RPG, then go get it - the game is available now on PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.

A demo is also available to play now. It lets you play through the opening sections of the game for free - and progress can be carried over to the full game! Find out more about it here:

For more Best Bits of 2023, be sure to check out these: