About two weeks ago, Japanese gaming weekly bible Famitsu revealed white-hot details on the upcoming Star Ocean: The Last Hope, including the name of the battle system, which, as the headline says, is ridiculous.
The name of the battle system is BEAT, which stands for — get ready —
Okay, so, uhh, what does that mean? Based on the demo at Tokyo Game Show, I dare say that the battle system in Star Ocean: The Last Hope feels a lot like the battle system in Star Ocean 3. If the name is different, though — and probably trademarked twice — then there must be something amazingly new and innovative about it.
I wish to take this opportunity to point out the following things:
1. In the Eskimo language, there are a thousand words for "snow" and zero words for "hello"; in Japanese, there exist tens of thousands of words that mean roughly the same thing as absolutely nothing at all
2. There's a chance that the game-designers at work here don't understand what "exalted" means. Here, I've looked it up on Dictionary.com for them. Now they can pretend that they meant to use the "rapturously excited" meaning all along.
3. "Beat" is also the name of an internet-based time standard invented by Swatch in 1998. Unlike Square-Enix, though, Swatch didn't try to make an acronym out of the letters.
Maybe if this battle system were somehow rhythm based, or something, it would be excusable, though really, what's the point of giving a name to the battle system? Battle systems in RPGs are placeholders, anyway. Giving them names is a lot like giving a brain tumor a name. That's not helping the problem!
Furthermore, why do we still have huge anime portraits of the characters at the bottom of the screen? Really, do we need to be able to see the anime faces of the characters, when we've got expressive, fully-animated, dynamically battling character models ping-ponging all around the screen in high-def glory?
Japanese RPGs have been in the practice of giving terrible names to their battle systems for a long time now, ever since Final Fantasy IV introduced a time element and called it, humbly, the "Active Time Battle (ATB)". Now nearly two decades later, there is no end in sight for this terrifying pissing contest, and we've got
1. A game called Infinite Undiscovery
2. A battle system which is literally called "Evolved Flex-Range Linear Motion Battle System" (EFR-LMBS) (from Tales of Vesperia)
3. And now this Battle Exalted Action Type system in Star Ocean: The Last Hope.
[Jerry Seinfeld voice] What's the deal with crazy battle system names?
My guess is that it has something to do with absolute terror — the same business thinking that forces a Japanese man to consider opening a ramen shop next door to another ramen shop — and nowhere else — forces makers of RPGs to write insane English bullshit on the back of the box. Seriously, the back of Tales of Vesperia's box literally lists "Evolved Flex-Range Linear Motion Battle System" as a "feature", right up there with "720p".
Why name these things at all? It's creepy. Really. And stop putting huge words on the screen. The most recent screenshots on The Magic Box depict the words "SIGHT OUT!" appearing in the middle of the screen. What the hell does that mean? Do Japanese people know what it means? Do us English-speakers? (Cue joke re: Star Ocean 4 being out of sight.)
A final note: two years ago, Xbox 360 had Lost Planet and Lost Odyssey. Now it has Last Remnant and Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Maybe the Xbox isn't winning in Japan because they keep naming games as though they're already lost, or as though there won't be any room for a sequel. (Also, people hear "last", and they think "last place".)
In the comments, I want you to do this:
1. Think of a daily task (hygiene / work / study related)
2. Think of a ridiculous battle system name to describe said task
3. Have fun fielding guesses as to the identity of your
I'll go first!
"Propulsive Ejection Natural Intelligent System".