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Hints and Tips by STam

Version: 0.41 | Updated: 09/02/99

                       Star Ocean: The Second Story
                   In-Depth Tips and Tricks (US version)
                               version 0.41
                 written by Sherwin Tam (sct8@cornell.edu)

(I'll keep filling this out as I work)
Version Changes
  Claude C. Kenni
  Rena Lanford
  Celine Jules
  Ashton Anchors
  Precis F. Newman
  Opera Vectra
  Bowman Jean
  Ernest Raviede
  Leon D. S. Geeste
  Dias Flac
  Noel Chandler
  Chisato Madison
  Selected Equipment Descriptions
  Best Weapons/Armor
  Recommended Accessories
(Playing the Game)
Killer Moves
  Killer Move List
  Link Combos
  Spell Absorption
(Super Specialties)

This is the big guide where I put in every little observation and opinion I
have about the game system in Star Ocean: The Second Story.  Included are
tidbits about every character, notable equipment, tips on some skills and
specialties, and other tips on how to play.  Most of this guide can be
considered "spoilers" of varying degrees; if you want to discover a lot of
the aspects of the game yourself, I have created a skills guide that covers
the skills system without revealing too much else.  There are also plenty
of other guides and FAQs that focus on other aspects of the game.  If,
however, you'd like my ideas on how the game works and tips on how to play
and what to use, read on...

0.41 (9/2/99): Added more Killer Moves, fixed some errors, added to

0.4 (8/29/99): Added Link Combo and Spell Absorption sections, part of the
Killer Move List.  Submitted to GameFAQs.

0.3 (8/18/99): Fleshed out the characters section.

0.2 (8/14/99): Added sections on equipment. 

0.1 (8/4/99): First release.  Private release, just so I can keep track of
when this whole thing started...

There are a number of conventions I will use throughout this guide.  These
conventions are for all of the sections; some sections will have additional
ones.  Most of these are intuitive, but I'd just like to explain, just to
be sure.

- Common abbreviations I use include SO2 (Star Ocean: The Second Story), PA
  (Private Actions) and supers (Super Specialties).  Also, the 
  abbreviations for all the character statistics, which are listed on the 
  status page, may be used.

- Many times I will use abbreviations of character names to save space.
  These abbreviations use the first two letters of the character's name
  (Cl, Re, Ce, As, Pr, Op, Bo, Er, Le, Di, No, Ch).

- Similarly, I use these abbreviations for the ten elements, which are the
  same as the game's abbreviations: Et, Wt, Fr, Wd, Th, St, Vc, Lg, Dk, Vd.

- Note that this guide covers only the normal game items, not any bonus or 
  secret items.  Covering these would invalidate all those assertions I
  make of so-and-so weapon or equipment being the best in the game, so I
  decided to invoke my selective memory and forget about all those strange
  things you can find if you're really persistent. ;)  I do make a few
  references to them, which I will mark as outside of the normal game.

Here are my opinions of all the characters, along with how you can recruit
them, their affinity for the different talents, starting skills, and skills
to develop or avoid.  The format is as follows:

Recruiting Requirements
General Comments
Battle Ability (normal attack and Killer Move/Spell comments)
Talent Chart
Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
Skill/Specialty Recommendations

The Favorite Food is the food that, when eaten, provides substantially
more HP/MP recovery for that character.  The Favorite Instrument is the
instrument that has a greater effect when played by that character.

For the Talent Chart, I used the grading system ABCDF, with A being a good
chance, C being average, and F meaning a poor chance.  The first letter 
indicates the chances of starting with that talent, and the second 
indicates the chances of learning that talent through specialties.  There 
are three special cases: A + denotes a talent that the character 
automatically starts with; a single - denotes a talent the character cannot
have, and a - in either the first or second positions (and another grade in
the other position) means that the character cannot start or cannot learn 
the talent.

--Claude C. Kenni--
Race: Human              Height: 175 cm
Type: Fighter            Weight: 68 kg
Gender: Male             Favorite Food: Steak
Age: 19                  Favorite Instrument: Silver Trumpet
Birth Date: January 23
Note: The Silver Trumpet is a bonus item.

Recruiting Requirements: None.  Claude will always join.

General Comments: Being one of the two main characters, Claude is your 
  standard blonde-haired, blue-eyed hero.  He's your all-around nice guy
  and easily the strongest and most versatile fighter as well.
Battle Ability: Claude has a fast ground attack with good range.  He has
  the standard jumping air attack, although it doesn't have enormous range
  and frankly looks a little stupid.  His killer moves cover a wide range
  of abilities, equally deadly against single or multiple enemies.  The
  only real weakness Claude has is in the amount of MP and proficiency
  required for his killer moves.  Claude's moves are the most expensive in 
  terms of MP cost and require the most uses to reach full proficiency.
Talent Chart
  Originality      C/C   Sense of Taste         F/F
  Dexterity        C/C   Sense of Design        B/C
  Writing Ability  B/C   Sense of Rhythm        C/D
  Pitch            D/D   Love of Animals        F/D
  Sixth Sense      -/F   The Blessing of Manna   -

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Functionality 1, Scientific Ability 1
Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Claude, being the strongest fighter,
  should have a good mixture on all the combat skills.  Also, Claude should
  learn writing early in the game to ease the development of later party
  members.  Otherwise, build towards specialties Claude has talents for or
  can learn easily.  Claude, unlike the other two major fighters (Dias and
  Ashton), has an average chance to learn a fair number of talents.
  Cooking is definitely not one of his strengths, however.  Even so, make
  sure to give him high levels in Kitchen Knife for the strength benefits.

--Rena Lanford--
Race: Nedian             Height: 161 cm
Type: Mage               Weight: 45 kg
Gender: Female           Favorite Food: Shortcake
Age: 17                  Favorite Instrument: Lyre
Birth Date: May 13

Recruiting Requirements: None.  Rena will always join your party.

General Comments: The other main character in the game besides Claude, Rena
  is also in standard heroic form -- sensitive, caring, a do-gooder.  She
  serves as the primary healer throughout the game.
Battle Ability: Although she starts off relatively strong in the beginning
  of the game, Rena, like all other mages, eventually falls behind the
  fighters in offensive and defensive power.  She does, however, have a
  decent reach in her normal attacks despite using her hands.  She has the
  normal aerial attack, either punching or kicking depending on how close
  the enemy is.  Her spells are for the most part recovery and protection
  spells; Rena gets all the available recovery spells in the game, along
  with a few protection and attack spells.  Her casting time is quite fast,
  allowing her to heal quickly and disrupt the actions of enemies, although
  she probably won't do a lot of damage.

Talent Chart
  Originality      F/D   Sense of Taste         B/B
  Dexterity        B/D   Sense of Design        D/F
  Writing Ability  D/C   Sense of Rhythm        D/D
  Pitch            A/D   Love of Animals        A/C
  Sixth Sense       -    The Blessing of Manna   +
Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Recipe 4, Kitchen Knife 1, Good Eye 1
  Cooking 2
Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Rena starts with Cooking, which is an easy
  way of making money early in the game.  Cooking is also one of the
  easiest specialties to improve, Recipe and Good Eye being extremely
  cheap.  If you're short on cash, build up this skill and cook up a storm
  of food.  Otherwise, your skill choices should depend on Rena's talents.
  Mages, having less need for combat skills, can focus more on item
  creation or whatever the party doesn't have at the moment.  You may need
  to try for Alchemy if you are short on mages.  Also consider learning
  Writing early, again to help build up later party members.  Make sure you

--Celine Jules--
Race: Expel              Height: 167 cm
Type: Mage               Weight: 50 kg
Gender: Female           Favorite Food: Baby Rabbit Risotto
Age: 23                  Favorite Instrument: Violin
Birth Date: September 18

Recruiting Requirements:  None.  Celine will always offer to join the

General Comments: The treasure hunter with the haughty demeanor and the
  shapely body (and the shower curtain to hide it all), Celine is somewhat
  condescending, materialistic, and... shallow.  Nice, but shallow.  
  Fortunately, she can also throw a mean fireball.  Gotta keep the suitors 
  away somehow...

Battle Ability: Celine is probably the best attack mage in the game (not 
  that there are that many).  She gets lots of spells and lots of magic 
  power.  Unfortunately, she pays the price in terms of her other stats;
  she is usually the weakest in both offensive and defensive power.  While
  she does use a rod, apparently her grip is wrong, because her normal
  attack range is quite small and somewhat slow.  She has a jumping aerial
  attack, also with short range.  Celine should only be used as a mage, and
  should be in the back and protected at all times.

Talent Chart
  Originality      D/B   Sense of Taste         F/F
  Dexterity        B/C   Sense of Design        A/B
  Writing Ability  F/D   Sense of Rhythm        F/D
  Pitch            B/D   Love of Animals        F/-
  Sixth Sense      C/C   The Blessing of Manna   +
Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Mineralogy 1, Craft 1, Esthetic Sense 5, Scientific Ability 2, 
    Fairyology 2
  Alchemy 1, Metalwork 2
Skill/Specialty Recommendations:  Celine is great at making items, starting
  with levels in Alchemy and Metalwork.  Her high Esthetic Sense also makes
  her a good candidate for Art.  You might want to try having her focus on
  Musical Talent as well, since the violin is a powerful instrument.  Like
  Claude, Celine is a kitchen casualty, and unless you start with Love of
  Animals you shouldn't train Celine in Familiar.

--Ashton Anchors--
Race: Expel              Height: 180 cm
Type: Fighter            Weight: 80 kg
Gender: Male             Favorite Food: Hamburger
Age: 20                  Favorite Instrument: Piano
Birth Date: September 28

Recruiting Requirements: To recruit Ashton, you must talk to the two men at
  the entrance of Herlie before leaving for Lacour and then investigate the
  mentioned dragon problem in Salva.  Recruiting Ashton prevents you from
  recruiting Opera or Ernest.

General Comments: Poor Ashton is a hero-for-hire who's an all-out nice guy
  and has the right intentions but is cursed with horrible luck.  How bad 
  is his luck? Instead of slaying the dragon in Salva, he becomes merged 
  with it!  (Or perhaps more accurately, "them".)  Add to the two bickering
  dragon heads an inferiority complex and an unnatural fascination with 
  barrels and you have a seriously weird character.  And a lot of fun. ;)

Battle Ability: Don't be fooled by his personal problems.  Ashton is one of
  the deadliest fighters in the game, second only to Claude and maybe Dias.
  He has a fast normal attack with decent range, along with the normal
  jumping-slashing attacks for aerial opponents.  Ashton also will fly 
  into a rage when friends fall more often than any other character in the 
  game.  His killer moves are both a blessing and a curse.  Ashton has 
  moves that deal lots of hits and moves that allow him to teleport around 
  the screen, acting as a sort of special forces to take out pesky enemies 
  in the rear.  However, many of his killer moves also have a significant 
  lag somewhere in the execution, allowing the enemy some breathing room 
  and usually resulting in Ashton getting hit.  Talk about putting your
  body on the line... 

Talent Chart
  Originality      F/A   Sense of Taste         B/D
  Dexterity        C/D   Sense of Design         -
  Writing Ability  D/D   Sense of Rhythm        F/C
  Pitch            F/C   Love of Animals        C/F
  Sixth Sense      D/D   The Blessing of Manna   -

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  100 SP

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Ashton is not exactly a specialty 
  powerhouse.  In fact, he has such dismal chances at most Talents that you
  should consider reloading if Ashton starts off with too few.  If he has
  talent, Ashton could make a good cook.  He can also be a passable
  metalworker and musician.  And, like all good warriors, Ashton can do
  quite well at customizing, although you may need to use Metalworking to
  learn Originality.  Note, however, that Ashton's luck is cursed to remain
  at 18 without equipment bonuses, which hurts his item-making chances.
  Also, avoid Art and Machinery due to Ashton's lack of Sense of Design.
  For combat skills, Ashton should focus on defense first, due to the
  nature of his killer moves.  Spirit Force is especially important, as
  well as decent levels in Parry and Body Control.  Of course, the rest of
  the combat skills shouldn't be neglected either.  Also make sure to beef
  up on Ashton's Patience and Functionality.  This, coupled with some good
  armor and accessories, can help keep Ashton undamaged long enough to keep
  him dishing out damage. 

--Precis F. Newman--
Race: Expel              Height: 155 cm
Type: Fighter            Weight: 43 kg
Gender: Female           Favorite Food: Chocolate Crepes
Age: 16                  Favorite Instrument: Harmonica
Birth Date: February 29
Note: Her birthday's on Leap Day, so she's actually only 4, depending on 
  how you look at things.  Which, given her personality, isn't that hard
  to believe...

Recruiting Requirements: To Recruit Ashton, you must participate in a PA
  in Linga.  Recruiting Precis means foregoing a chance to recruit Bowman.

General Comments: The cheery, hyper Precis is daughter to an eccentric 
  inventor in Linga and follows in her father's footsteps, always looking
  to tinker with some piece of metal.  She sort of serves as the party
  mascot, always upbeat to the point of annoyance.  Even her killer moves
  reflect her mood, screaming "I'm the cute character in the game!" and "I
  have some really wacky ideas as to what is an effective attack in 
  combat!"  Not for the easily annoyed, but still, her wackiness can be

Battle Ability: Precis, like all the women in the game, isn't intended to
  be a damage-soaking type fighter in the front lines.  Her normal attack
  (a mechanical hand that comes out her backpack and punches -- and is that
  a Playstation controller she's holding to control it!?) has a significant
  pause and only decent range.  She has two different types of aerial 
  attacks; at close range, she does a jumping punch, and at long range she 
  has the more effective missile shot from her backpack.  Precis in general
  will not do that much damage per hit.  However, her killer moves are 
  varied and for the most part powerful, including some that make her
  partially invulnerable and many that will do multiple hits on multiple
  enemies, somewhat compensating for her lack of power.  She doesn't quite
  the range of Opera or the multi-hit ability of Chisato, but her attacks
  are still quite useful when combined with other characters to keep the 
  enemy occupied so she can pull them off.  Her higher-level moves also
  drain a lot of MP, so she will frequently run low unless given some help.

Talent Chart
  Originality      D/C   Sense of Taste         -/D
  Dexterity        D/A   Sense of Design        D/A
  Writing Ability  F/F   Sense of Rhythm        D/C
  Pitch            D/D   Love of Animals        B/D
  Sixth Sense      C/F   The Blessing of Manna   -

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Functionality 3, Mech Knowledge 1, Mech Operation 1
  Machinery 1
  100 SP

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: As you can see from the talent chart,
  Precis is pretty much geared toward one thing: Machinery.  This should be
  her main skill, since she can gain an easy 200 SP if she doesn't start
  with either Dexterity or Sense of Design, and since she can make unique
  items with Machinery, including weapons and killer moves.  For her other
  specialties, it mostly depends on what luck you have for her initial 
  talents, as most of them have low learning potential.  She can become
  good at metalwork, perhaps art.  Keep her out of the kitchen.  Combat-
  wise, Precis can benefit from any of the normal combat skills.

--Opera Vectra--
Race: Tetragenes         Height: 160 cm
Type: Fighter            Weight: 50 kg
Gender: Female           Favorite Food: Apple Cider
Age: 23                  Favorite Instrument: Piano
Birth Date: August 24

Recruiting Requirements: To recruit Opera, you need to see a PA in the Town
  of Cross.  Then, after finishing the Tournament of Arms in Lacour, you
  need to see a PA in Hilton.  After that you need to go back to Cross
  Castle, talk to the king, and obtain permission to enter the Mountain
  Palace, where you'll find Opera.  Recruiting Opera means passing up a
  chance to recruit Ashton.

General Comments: Opera hails from a highly advanced planet whose race has
  three eyes.  She's a noblewoman looking for love, specifically her
  slippery boyfriend who likes to take interplanetary journeys.  Opera is a
  very determined and competitive woman -- how many other women would
  acquire such a huge gun (which apparently takes floppies) and go 
  planet-hopping in a ballroom gown?  She can be somewhat blunt and crude
  at times, although she's not quite as condescending as Celine.  Opera
  also has an enormous tolerance for drink (tea, root beer, or whatever
  non-alcoholic drinks they renamed everything), and can be seen downing
  some in many a PA.

Battle Ability: Opera is the premiere long-range fighter in the game.  All
  of her killer moves have long-range ability (she does have a gun, after
  all).  This makes her extremely effective against enemies who hang around
  in the rear lines or those that fly.  This has its downsides, however, in
  that Opera is the least effective fighter at close range.  Most of her
  killer moves operate at the very edge of short distance, and enemies that
  move quickly may overpower her before she attains the right distance to 
  launch her moves.  Her normal attack is actually pretty good, coming out 
  fast and with decent range.  Opera's aerial attack is also excellent,
  since she shoots while staying grounded, allowing her to attack at a much
  faster rate than those characters who must jump to attack flying enemies.
  Allowing Opera to get close to use these attacks, however, means that she
  must spend extra time to increase her distance before using her moves.
  Opera makes a great support character behind the front lines of your
  party, but a mediocre fighter when forced to do hand-to-hand combat.

Talent Chart
  Originality      D/B   Sense of Taste         F/F
  Dexterity         +    Sense of Design        C/A
  Writing Ability  F/D   Sense of Rhythm        B/C
  Pitch            B/C   Love of Animals         - 
  Sixth Sense       -    The Blessing of Manna   -

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Craft 1, Metal Casting 1, Functionality 1, Mech Operation 3
  Customize 1

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Similar to Precis, Opera's primary
  specialty focus should be on Machinery.  Not only does she have a good
  chance of starting with both talents necessary, she can create weapons
  and killer moves for herself with Machinery.  In fact, since no one sells
  her weapons until the second half of the game, Machinery is almost the
  only way to generate weapons to utilize her customizing skills on.  Opera
  is the most limited character in the number of talents she can acquire,
  although she has good chances to learn a fair number of the ones she can
  have.  She should avoid the Familiar, Cooking, and Authoring specialties
  unless she starts with the needed talent.  Opera makes a good musician
  and a great metalworker or artist.  For combat skills, Opera shouldn't
  need the Cancel skill, since there's not too many killer moves she can
  reasonably cancel into.  On the other hand, a high Gale level is needed
  for Opera to maintain the correct amount of distance to use her killer

--Bowman Jean--
Race: Expel              Height: 175 cm
Type: Fighter            Weight: 78 kg
Gender: Male             Favorite Food: Daikon Miso
Age: 27                  Favorite Instrument: Harmonica
Birth Date: December 30

Recruiting Requirements: To recruit Bowman, you must not recruit Precis.

General Comments: The laid-back pharmacist who involves himself in other
  people's problems apparently decides that your problem of saving the
  world is something he needs to be involved in.  Bowman is for the most
  part an easy-going, if slightly chauvinistic, guy.  He's the only
  character who's married, although this doesn't stop him from occasionally
  checking out the ladies...

Battle Ability: Bowman's normal attack... sucks.  His range is truly
  pitiful, worse than any other character.  Frequently he'll just whiff
  because the enemy decided to flee right before he starts an attack.  His
  aerial attack is no better, having super-short range from short or long
  distance.  I usually let the computer run Bowman's attacks, since it has
  a better percentage somehow; when I play Bowman, he only does damage if
  the enemy runs into his fist.  Bowman's killer moves are mixed bag.  They
  certainly have much better range than his normal attack, but some aren't
  very useful given their speed or effect.  All this adds up to Bowman
  being a mediocre fighter.  This isn't to say that Bowman can't do some
  serious damage if given the chance, but he's not a front-line fighter and
  shouldn't be counted to wade into large groups of enemies without some

Talent Chart
  Originality      D/D   Sense of Taste         F/D
  Dexterity        F/F   Sense of Design        F/C
  Writing Ability  B/B   Sense of Rhythm        F/F
  Pitch            D/F   Love of Animals        -/B
  Sixth Sense      D/B   The Blessing of Manna   -

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Herbal Medicine 5, Biology 4, Mental Science 2
  Compounding 3
  100 SP

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Considering his talent spread, Bowman is
  quite specialized in what he is supposed to do.  Certainly his main
  specialty should be Compounding.  Since Biology and Mental Science are
  expensive skills, Bowman should also learn Writing to author books on
  these two skills for everyone else in the party.  He has good chances to
  learn Sixth Sense and Love of Animals, giving him abilities to scout and
  call familiars.  Lastly, he has a decent chance to create art.  Besides
  that... <shrug>  For combat skills, Cancel is pretty worthless unless you
  like to make things hard on yourself.  Similar to Ashton, Bowman has a
  number of killer moves with preparation time, so beefing up his defensive
  skills can be beneficial.  Also, considering his attack range and him
  having the only killer move that depends on speed, Gale is important.

--Ernest Raviede--
Race: Tetragenes         Height: 190 cm
Type: Fighter            Weight: 90 kg
Gender: Male             Favorite Food: Hassaku Tea
Age: 35                  Favorite Instrument: Cembalo
Birth Date: August 31

Recruiting Requirements: To recruit Ernest, you must first have Opera in 
  your party.  Then, you must see a PA in Arlia Village and then travel 
  into Shingo Forest.  Ernest will join after an event in the Hoffman
  Ruins.  Since recruiting Opera meant foregoing Ashton, recruiting Ernest
  is the same.  Furthermore, if you've recruited everyone who offered so
  far, then you will have to choose between the last three available

General Requirements: Ernest is a strange combination, a character who
  seems to be pushed as suave, but unfortunately has the job of Indiana 
  Jones and the coat of Jubilee to go along with the voice of James Bond.
  If you look at him from the other direction, he's got the voice of James
  Bond when he's supposed to be rugged like Indiana Jones (and he's still
  got Jubilee's coat).  Ultimately I just decided he was a bit ridiculous,
  although I'm not sure whether I could blame him from running from Opera
  after hearing her scream like a banshee on the battlefield.  Ernest in
  general doesn't do much except act the part of the world-hopping traveler
  and archaeologist, focused more on the ruins on the horizon more than the
  beautiful women swooning all around him.

Battle Ability: After all the trouble to get Ernest, his battle prowess is
  a bit disappointing.  While Ernest has the longest normal attack of
  anyone in the game, it comes out somewhat slowly.  He doesn't actually
  attack using the full range of his whip, either, but around the range
  that Claude attacks, which leaves him open to retaliation.  On the other
  hand, enemies that try to run away from Ernest will be in for a nasty
  surprise, as his attack extends way past the original attack point.  As
  for his aerial attack, it has the same range, but is still a jumping
  attack and not as effective as Opera's or Leon's attacks.  I'm not sure
  why the programmers didn't just leave Ernest on the ground and have him
  snap his whip at an upward angle, but again, at least it has range.  His
  killer moves all exhibit the same characteristics, that being slow but
  possessing good range.  He also suffers from Dias syndrome, since none
  of his killer moves generate more than four hits.  All in all, another
  mediocre fighter; his significant other is the better fighter.  Just goes
  to show you that Indiana was right about primitive weapons versus guns...
  Ernest also has an inexplicable aversion to Reflective Armor, making his
  defense potentially low compared to the rest of the fighters, who can all
  equip better armor.

Talent Chart
  Originality      F/C   Sense of Taste         F/F
  Dexterity        C/C   Sense of Design        D/C
  Writing Ability  D/C   Sense of Rhythm         +
  Pitch            C/D   Love of Animals        D/D
  Sixth Sense      B/C   The Blessing of Manna   -

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Herbal Medicine 5, Patience 5, Whistling 4
  Survival 5

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Not really much to go on, since Survival
  is for the most part a useless skill by the time you recruit Ernest.
  Chances are he's not going to want to cook or feed animals, but other
  than that Ernest has a reasonable chance to acquire every other skill,
  so his specialties should be tailored to his starting talents and
  whatever specialty you're lacking in your party at the moment.  In
  combat, Ernest basically needs every skill you can give him. ;)
--Leon D. S. Geeste--
Race: Fellpool           Height: 135 cm
Type: Mage               Weight: 36 kg
Gender: Male             Favorite Food: Carrot Juice
Age: 12                  Favorite Instrument: Violin
Birth Date: November 25

Recruiting Requirements: To recruit Leon, you must be playing Claude's
  scenario.  You cannot (permanently) recruit Leon in Rena's scenario.

General Comments: He's brainy.  He's confident.  He's arrogant.  He's 
  childish.  He's puny.  And fortunately for all concerned, he's also a
  dang good mage, making good on all of that childish bravado he keeps
  saying.  Leon is the little (really little) brother of the party, and if
  you can put up with a bit of his spoiled act you'll find a powerful
  attack mage at your disposal. 

Battle Ability: For such a young kid, Leon is actually quite good in
  battle.  He has one of the most unique normal attacks, where phantoms
  spring out of his tome to attack.  His normal attack, where a purple
  armor-clad woman swings a sword, is the best out of all the mages, having
  even more range and speed than certain fighters.  His aerial attack,
  where a green mermaid thrusts a trident skyward (what kind of books does 
  this kid read, anyway?), is equally impressive, possibly the fastest air
  attack out of all the characters in the game.  I occasionally control 
  Leon in close combat to supplement the fighters against pesky flying
  opponents.  It's too bad he doesn't have much power to go with his
  swing...  His magic is equally powerful.  While not having the range of
  spells that Celine has, he has plenty of power and usually the largest
  amount of MP of any character.  He's also the master of spell absorption
  (see below), making a Leon pairing with another mage extremely deadly
  when micromanaged correctly.

Talent Chart
  Originality      D/D   Sense of Taste         D/D
  Dexterity        F/F   Sense of Design        D/D
  Writing Ability   +    Sense of Rhythm        D/D
  Pitch            F/D   Love of Animals        F/D
  Sixth Sense      -/D   The Blessing of Manna   +

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Mineralogy 3, Scientific Ability 4, Fairyology 1
  Alchemy 2

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Leon doesn't exactly impress with his
  range of talents.  Again, Leon seems to be focused on a few specialties.
  He makes a good alchemist since the framework is already there.  Also, 
  Leon should invest in Writing; he is the only character who can author
  his weapons, although more powerful weapons can be had through
  customization.  Also, the writing ability allows him to author books on
  Fairyology, which gives a slight INT boost for mages and is normally an 
  expensive skill.  Similar to Celine, you might try going for Musical
  Talent due to the powerful nature of the Violin.  Other than that, just
  go for whatever specialties fate leans Leon towards...  Leon should pump
  up on the standard mage combat skills, Motormouth and defenses.  

--Dias Flac--
Race: Expel              Height: 192 cm
Type: Fighter            Weight: 82 kg
Gender: Male             Favorite Food: Chicken Skewers
Age: 25                  Favorite Instrument: Cembalo
Birth Date: August 5

Recruiting Requirements: To recruit Dias, you must be playing Rena's
  scenario.  You cannot recruit Dias in Claude's scenario.

General Comments: The bad boy of SO2, Dias is your typical taciturn
  brooder, complete with the long hair and tragic past.  Dias doesn't get
  along with anybody except Rena (and that's sorta a stretch, too).  He
  lives only for the battle, and doesn't do too much else except meditate,
  sleep, and watch other battles.  Still, he really is pretty cool with the
  attitude, even if he doesn't exactly do a lot of party participation.

Battle Ability: Dias is a powerful fighter with a few flaws.  He carries
  a katana-type blade and performs sword-drawing techniques for almost all
  of his attacks.  Unfortunately, rather than making his attacks faster, it
  slows his normal attack down to a crawl.  His actually swing is wicked
  fast and has excellent range, but he pauses a half-second before 
  swinging, plenty of time for enemies to hit him out of whatever he was
  thinking of doing.  Dias's air attack also has a pause, but since there's
  a bit of preparation time for everyone's jumping aerial attack anyway,
  it's less noticeable.  Dias's attack style follows a credo of "strike
  once, strike dead," and his killer moves reflect this philosophy.  Most
  of the moves do more than normal damage with each hit.  This is in
  compensation, unfortunately, to the fact that none of his killer moves
  hits more than four times.  Thus, Claude and other characters will
  frequently do more damage simply through the sheer volume of hits, and
  Dias must use strength enhancers to keep up.  This problem is alleviated
  somewhat with Dias's final weapon.  Another, less important problem is
  that Dias has trouble engaging more than one or two enemies at a time.
  However, if you increase Dias's power, he should be able to solve this
  problem by mowing through his opponents at a fast clip.

Talent Chart
  Originality       +    Sense of Taste         F/C
  Dexterity        C/C   Sense of Design        D/D
  Writing Ability  F/F   Sense of Rhythm        C/F
  Pitch            C/F   Love of Animals        F/F
  Sixth Sense      D/C   The Blessing of Manna   -

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  400 SP (200 SP the first time he joins, 200 SP the second)

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Dias is first and foremost a fighting man,
  so he's always ready to customize his weapon.  He also has decent chances
  to acquire Sixth Sense and Sense of Taste, allowing him to scout and cook
  (hey, wandering swordsmen have to eat, too).  Lastly, he has a shot at
  getting Dexterity, allowing Metalworking.  He might have some musical
  talent, but if he doesn't start out with Pitch and Sense of Rhythm, it's
  probably not going to happen.  Besides, he needs all those precious SPs
  for his primary skill consumption -- stat builders and combat skills.
  That's what he's on the team for, right?  Make sure to build up Kitchen
  Knife, Scientific Ability, and Functionality to increase his attack
  power.  Also focus on Mental Training and Below the Belt, perhaps Feint.
  Because of his pause, it is very difficult to time Dias to cancel.  The
  benefits are large, but the risk that he'll be hit out of his normal
  attack is usually large enough that I pass on Cancel.

--Noel Chandler--
Race: Nedian             Height: 173 cm
Type: Mage               Weight: 74 kg
Gender: Male             Favorite Food: Big Tuna
Age: 24                  Favorite Instrument: Illusive Shamisen
Birth Date: February 16
Note: The Illusive Shamisen is a bonus item.  
  Although he's listed as a Nedian and his portrait shows normal ears, in 
  the game it's made clear that Noel is a different race, with fur and cat 
  ears.  Also, Leon is rendered with feline ears and listed as a Fellpool,
  but nobody notices the difference on Expel, and his parents are normal 
  Expels.  And Noel spelled backwards is Leon.  Did somebody get confused 
  at tri-Ace?  Or is there a deeper meaning?  The mystery thickens...

Recruiting Requirements: None.  Noel will always offer to join the party.

General Comments: Noel, the crusader for animals, definitely doesn't
  personify the "active" in "activist."  In fact, Noel for the most part is
  all pacifist, even down to his battle quotes.  He's also pretty
  complacent when he casts spells, too, speaking as if he was speaking an
  offhand remark instead of casting some spell that could save his furry
  hide.  Pretty much a sleepy guy with a personality that could put you to
  sleep.  Too bad there's not a spell for that sorta thing...

Battle Ability: Ernest may have problems deciding on his personality, but
  Noel has a problem deciding on his job.  Noel wears the armor of a 
  fighter, has the strategies and some spells of an attack mage, and has
  the attitude and some spells of a healer.  The result, of course, is a
  disaster.  Chief among the problems is Noel's equipment.  It would have
  been acceptable for him to be an attack/healer mage, but the addition of
  fighting equipment means that Noel can't equip the armor of the other
  mages, most which gives a substantial magic power boost.  Thus, Noel's
  spells have less effect because of his low magical power.  His normal and
  aerial attacks are also none too impressive, having short range, although
  he still have more range than Celine (and Bowman, of course).  His spells
  suffer from the aforementioned lack of power.  Also, his attack spells
  aren't too powerful by nature; wind spells apparently have no spell
  absorbing ability, and the earth spells have problems hitting floating or
  airborne enemies.  Lastly, Noel's healing spell collection is missing a
  few important spells such as Antidote and Raise Dead, and he gets Dispel
  at a ridiculously high level.  Further complicating matters is his
  strategy list, which is the same as an attack mage's.  Noel will
  sometimes forget to heal your characters and use an attack spell instead.
  There are bonus items that alleviate Noel's equipment problems and make 
  him more powerful than Rena, but for the normal game Noel isn't that
  great at any of the careers he pursues.  Which is not to say that Noel
  isn't worth recruiting at all.  A weaker healer who can withstand a few
  punches is better than no healer at all in case you ever want Rena absent
  from your battle party.  As long as you keep resurrection and status
  recovery items plentiful, Noel can be useful to your team.

Talent Chart
  Originality      D/D   Sense of Taste         F/D
  Dexterity        F/D   Sense of Design        C/D
  Writing Ability  F/D   Sense of Rhythm        C/D
  Pitch            B/D   Love of Animals         +
  Sixth Sense      D/D   The Blessing of Manna   +

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  290 SP

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Nope, Noel doesn't really have all that
  much in the talent department, either.  You'll want to make sure he
  starts with a number of talents, since his chances are better to start
  with a few than the low chance he has at learning them.  With his Love
  of Animals, Familiar will always be available for Noel to learn.  The
  other specialties will again depend on your needs and his talents.  For
  combat, make sure that Noel has strong Motormouth skills.  Also pump up
  his Mineralogy, Functionality, for their INT bonuses, since he's going to
  need all the help he can get pumping his magic power.

--Chisato Madison--
Race: Nedian             Height: 164 cm
Type: Fighter            Weight: 52 kg
Gender: Female           Favorite Food: none
Age: 22                  Favorite Instrument: Organ
Birthday: October 22
Note: Chisato supposedly does have a favorite food, the Fruit Sandwich.
  Unfortunately, the programmers forgot to program it in the game, so it's
  impossible to get the sandwich unless you cheat.

Recruiting Requirements: To recruit Chisato, you must explore the Cavern of
  the Red Crystal and trigger the event where she drops her business card.
  You must then pick up her card and return it to her in Central City.  You
  must also have a free spot free for her to occupy (in case you have 

General Comments: Chisato, like any good reporter, is always looking for
  the next big scoop, and stories don't get any bigger than those about the
  saviors of the universe.  Unfortunately, her black belt wasn't in
  ninjitsu, because she has a bit of trouble keeping inconspicuous while
  following you.  Apparently her sense of balance stays on the battlefield,
  too...  Other than her zealous commitment to her job, however, Chisato is
  easygoing and pleasant, even if she doesn't get to do too much as the
  last available recruit.  

Battle Ability: On the battlefield, Chisato for the most part eschews her
  stun gun in favor of spectacular demonstrations of her martial arts
  techniques and connections to the Nedian armory.  Her normal attack has
  decent range and a bit of a pause, and she has a typical jumping attack.
  She does seem to dizzy opponents with her attack more often than any
  other character.  Chisato's killer moves are split along two lines; in
  one, she relentlessly pummels an enemy with her hands and feet and in
  the other she pulls out some device to use on multiple opponents.  In all
  cases the lower attack power that she has is made up with multiple hits;
  in stark contrast to Dias, her killer moves always have at least two hits
  and frequently many more.  Chisato is the queen of mass enemy 
  devastation.  Her close-range moves, while impressive, pale in comparison
  to the havoc she wreaks with her wider area moves.  The price for these
  moves is that each has a pause before they execute and some start
  uncomfortably close to the enemy.  Thus, Chisato needs backup in the form
  of some other character occupying the enemy while she readies her
  attacks.  Alternately, if you use her martial arts, she needs someone to
  keep the rest of the enemies off her back while she pummels her current
  focus, since her close-range moves have no area effect.  A worthy 
  addition to any team needing crowd control.

Talent Chart
  Originality      C/C   Sense of Taste         C/B
  Dexterity        C/D   Sense of Design        D/D
  Writing Ability   +    Sense of Rhythm        D/D
  Pitch            D/D   Love of Animals        C/A
  Sixth Sense      -/D   The Blessing of Manna   -

Starting Skills/Specialties/SP
  Copying 4
  Reproduction 4
  290 SP

Skill/Specialty Recommendations: Chisato has specific hobbies that's she's
  geared towards.  One would be Authoring, which she always has the talent
  for, although she inexplicably doesn't start with the Writing skill.  She
  also has an interest in pets and good food.  Lastly, she starts with
  Reproduction, one of the most useful specialties in the game, especially
  when coupled with Orchestra or a Violin.  For the most part she'll not
  want to pick up an instrument or a paintbrush, and she's better at 
  copying than making her own jewelry.  For combat skills, Chisato is
  another character that would benefit from increased defenses and speed
  to keep her fit while she prepares her killer moves.  She could also
  benefit from Mental Training and strength builders, since the large
  number of hits she racks up gives her ample opportunity to use her
  combat skills.

Equipment obviously plays an important part in your party's success.  The
right equipment can give you extra attacks, more attacking power, magic
defense, status ailment prevention, etc.  Here are a few tips:

- The Equipment Wizard is a finicky creature.  It is useful for the first
  few chapters of the game, but then becomes a hassle when the equipment
  starts getting more varied.  The EW only chooses equipment by their main
  attribute, i.e. attack power for weapons, defense power for armor.  If
  you make any manual changes, such as replacing accessories, the EW will
  automatically turn off.  Rather than continuously turning the EW back on,
  you should get used to manually equipping.  When the number of
  accessories increases, you will constantly be doing a lot of accessory
  moving.  Also, many of the later weapons and armor will have other
  beneficial properties that might make them more desirable despite their
  lower attack or defense power.

- Pay attention to your elemental attributes.  This can be checked for each
  item on the items screen, or for the character overall on the status
  screen, by pressing square.  The 10 elements, from left to right, are:

  Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Thunder, Star, Vacuum, Light, Darkness, Void

  Having a plus or minus sign in a defense (second row) affects how much
  damage you take from attacks based on that element.  A minus sign will
  mean more damage, while a plus sign means less damage.  These values are
  cumulative, so wearing two items that are both in strong in Fire will
  result in an even higher resistance.  Wearing items especially strong
  versus an element can completely negate such elemental attacks or even
  cause you to gain life when attacked.
  Obviously, if you have a minus sign somewhere, that's bad.  However, you 
  should find out what equipment is giving you the weakness and consider
  whether you are likely to encounter enemies using that element.  If, for
  instance, you are on some icy tundra, a weakness in fire may be okay.
  Facing fire-breathing salamanders, on the other hand...

  Elemental attributes on your weapon simply show up as highlighted icons.
  The effect of these attributes depends on your enemy's defense, which
  is similar to the character's in that enemies can be weak or strong to
- Special properties from equipment for the most part aren't cumulative.
  * For items that reduce MP cost, the better MP reduction is used.  For
    instance, equipping a Fairy Ring, which reduces MP cost by 1/2, and an
    Emerald Ring, which reduces MP cost by 2/3, results in a 1/2 MP cost
    reduction (the Emerald Ring is ignored).
  * Items that regain HP or MP aren't cumulative, so wearing two items that
    regenerate HP every 5 seconds doesn't give you double the regenerative
  * You can never have more than three attacks per swing on a weapon.  If
    you have a weapon, such as Ashton's Gemini, that gives two attacks per
    swing, adding a Slayer's Ring (+2 attacks) results in three attacks
    per swing and one attack wasted.
  * Items that affect statistics _are_ cumulative.  This includes Atlas
    Rings, which double your strength; two Atlas Rings would give you
    quadruple the strength, or an additional 3 x current strength to your
    attack power.
  * Items which give free skills override the character's normal level if
    the item's level is higher, and does nothing if it is lower.
  * Accessories which speed up your character, like Silver Pendants and 
    Zephyr Earrings, give about the equivalent of Gale 10 speed.  With 
    experimentation, it seems that equipping two such accessories isn't
    cumulative.  Furthermore, once you achieve Gale 10, the accessories
    don't seem to make any difference.  They also don't give any bonus to
    speed when under the effects of Comprehension.  On the other hand, 
    Bunny Shoes will speed up characters faster than Gale 10 and is
    unaffected by Comprehension, although Delay spells will still slow you
  * Not sure about items that reduce or increase enemy encounters.  I
    suspect that they aren't cumulative, and anywise, why would you want to
    give up more than one slot for any of these items?

Here are the best weapons and armor that all the characters can equip.  
Since all characters have unique weapons, I'll discuss each separately.  
The armor will be discussed as a group.

Claude: Eternal Sphere.  This awesome sword not only has enormous
  attacking power and resistance to vacuum, light, and darkness, it emits
  sparkles when Claude swings, essentially turning his normal attack into
  a multi-hit barrage.
Rena: Fallen Hope/Empresia.  For Rena and the other mages, the Magic rating
  is more important than the attacking power.  Both the Fallen Hope and the
  Empresia have a high magic power (300).  The Empresia has a higher attack
  power, but the Fallen Hope edges it out in my mind by having the
  additional benefit of cutting 1/2 the MP cost of spells.
Celine: Silvermoon/Dragon's Tusk.  The Dragon's Tusk has the highest Magic
  power of any of Celine's rods, but the Silvermoon has comparable Magic
  power and recovers MP over time in battle as well.
Ashton: Melufa/Gemini.  Since Ashton uses twin short swords, it's fitting 
  that he have two best weapons.  The holy swords Gemini has a powerful 
  attack, gives extra luck (which Ashton certainly needs), and hits twice 
  on a normal attack.  However, it has a large weakness to fire, and it has
  a star-based attack, which may or may not affect dealt damage.  Thus, I 
  usually keep the other weapon around.  The counterpart evil swords Melufa
  has an even higher attack power, double the luck, and a higher critical
  percentage, as well as an unlisted 30% bonus to HP.  It is, however, weak
  to water.  If you don't want to deal with the elemental problems of 
  either sword, the Holy Cross, which has no special properties (but no 
  weakness, either) can be used.  My question is, why can't Ashton carry 
  one of each sword in either hand?  Just like Gyoro and Ururun, why play 
  favorites? ;)
Precis: SDUGA Punch.  No dispute here.  Huge attack rating, lots of guts,
  and a funny description to boot.
Opera: Psycho Box/Pulse Box.  The Psycho Box has the highest attack power 
  out of all her energy boxes.  However, it has no other statistical 
  bonuses.  The Pulse Box might have a slight delay in its attack and has
  a slightly lower attack power, but it has a much higher hit percentage
Bowman: Titan's Fists/Moon Fists.  Here's a tough choice.  The Moon Fists
  have the highest attack power available for Bowman.  The Titan's Fists,
  while no pushover, have significantly less attack power.  However, they
  increase the maximum MP for Bowman by 30% and give a big stamina bonus.
Ernest: Dark Whip/Cat o' 9 Tails.  The Dark Whip has the highest attack
  rating of all the customizable weapons, and has good hit and critical
  percentage bonuses, along with a Darkness-based attack.  However, the Cat
  o' 9 Tails has even more attack power and a triple attack.  Honorable 
  mention goes to the Invisible Whip, which has a lower attack power than
  either but a huge hit percentage bonus.
Leon: Ancient Wisdom.  While it might not have the highest magic power (the
  Book of Chaos and the Treatise have higher magic power), the Ancient 
  Wisdom book is loaded with extras, including a 1/2 MP cost reduction and
  MP recovery over time in battle.
Dias: Crimson Diablos.  The sword with the plain description is hiding a
  secret: behind the modest attack power lies a magic that doubles your 
  strength when used in battle!  Use of this sword and a strength-enhancing
  accessory truly makes Dias a deadly force.  The "Red Devil" also gives a
  hefty stamina bonus and protects against light, darkness, void, and
  instant-death spells.
Noel: Platinum Nails.  The Platinum Nails offers the highest magic power of
  all of Noel's weapons.  The attack power is nothing to write home about,
  but Noel can get a triple attack (not that he's going to attack that 
Chisato: Electron/Spark.  Tough choices.  Chisato's weapons all don't have
  particularly strong attack power.  She does have the Psychic Gun, which
  has a much higher attack power.  But it also sucks 2 MP for every
  successful hit you score on an enemy, so with Chisato's multi-hit killer
  moves this becomes extremely draining.  There is also mention of a Flare
  Gun, but I have yet to ever create it, so until I find a reliable method
  of creating that gun, the next gun in line for attack power would be the
  Electron.  The Spark also deserves mention because of its triple attack
  properties, which make it useful if you're using Chisato up close.

Note: the names by the pieces of equipment indicate the characters who
I think should equip them.  Some pieces can be worn by more than the names
I've listed.

-Best Armors-
Battle Suit (all): The absolute last word in physical defense, the Battle
  Suit will stop most attacks cold.  It gives a nice guts bonus, too.  If
  you can acquire this armor somehow (it's not exactly sold at the grocery
  store or anything), by all means, use it!  Especially recommended for
  fighters like Ashton to make his killer moves more effective or Ernest,
  since he can't use Reflective Armor.

Reflective Armor (Cl, As, Pr, Op, Bo, Di, No, Ch): The Reflective Armor 
  gives numerous bonuses, including spell resistance, elemental 
  resistances, and MP recovery equal to a Mental Ring.  It also has a great
  defensive rating, just below the Duel Suit.  The armor of choice for
  anyone who can equip it when it comes to magic-slinging foes.
Duel Suit (Cl, As, Di): The Duel Suit has the best defense rating of any
  non-bonus armor in the game, suitable for the three best fighters in the
  game.  It also gives protection from petrification.  However, considering
  the extra bonuses that Reflective Armor gives, I usually use that.  The 
  Duel Suit is useful when status anomalies are more of a concern than 
  spells, or if there is some other equipped spell protection, so I keep a 
  suit or two around to equip.
Sylvan Mail (Pr, Op, Ch): The female counterpart to the Duel Suit, Sylvan
  Mail has a lower AC rating than Reflective Armor.  It is again only
  useful when status anomalies are a problem, as it prevents petrification.
Mithril Mesh (Er): For some odd reason Ernest can't wear Reflective Armor.
  The next best available armor is the Mithril Mesh, which unfortunately 
  has a much lower defense and no extras to speak of.

Mithril Coat (No): The armor with the highest available magic bonus for
  Noel.  However, the huge difference in defensive power and the lack of
  extras compared to the Reflective Armor usually convinces me to keep
  Noel's magic down in exchange for much better protection.  Besides, the
  magic bonus isn't that high, so Noel would still be weaker than the
  other mages anyway.
Mirage Robe (Re, Ce, Le): The best mage's armor boasts protection from
  petrification, strength against five elements, and substantial bonuses
  to avoidance, stamina, guts, and luck.
Ishtar's Robe (Re, Ce, Le): Another candidate for best mage's robe,
  Ishtar's Robe protects against instant-death spells and has a higher
  magic rating than the Mirage Robe, in exchange for less stat bonuses and
  no elemental protection.

-Best Shields-
Star Guard (Cl, As, Pr, Op, Bo, Er, Di, Ch): The Star Guard has a high
  defense and the largest avoidance rating for any shield in the game.  Its
  biggest claim to excellence, however, is the sparkles that it emits
  whenever the wearer blocks.  These sparkles are exactly like the ones
  from the Eternal Sphere, and are considered attacks.  Kill monsters
  without even attacking!
Pallas Athena (Cl, Pr, Di, Er): The Pallas Athena gives resistance versus
  instant death and resistance versus every element except void (which it's 
  weak in).  Great for spell defense.
Algol (Pr, Ch): The Algol has a better defense rating than any other
  shield, and is the only shield to have a big stamina boost as well.  As
  if that weren't enough, the Algol has a small chance of instantly killing
  any enemy that attacks the wearer.
Jeanne's Shield (Pr, Ch): Prevents paralysis and is strong to thunder and 
  star-based attacks.
The Armband of Kali (Re, Ce): Only equippable by female characters, The
  Armband of Kali offers the best shield-based defense available for Rena
  and Celine.
Rare Gauntlets (Le, No): The next best thing to wearing Kalis for the male
  set of spellcasters.
Rune Buckler (Re, Ce, Le, No): Although it doesn't provide much defense,
  the Rune Buckler has a respectable avoidance and also prevents paralysis.

-Best Helm- 
Odin's Helm (Cl, As, Di): While it doesn't offer that much defensive
  protection, Odin's Helm has much more to offer.  Enormous bonuses to guts
  and stamina, as well as strength against void, make this helmet highly
Duel Helm (Cl, As, Bo, Di, Er, No): The Duel Helm has by far the highest
  defense available in a helmet.  Claude, Ashton, and Dias can switch
  between this and Odin's Helm.
Mithril Helm (Pr, Op, Ch): The next highest defense rating behind the Duel
  Helm, the Mithril Helm represents the best helmet for the female
Jeanne's Helm (Pr, Op, Ch): Although not as high in defense as the Mithril
  Helm, Jeanne's Helm adds strength against water and void.
Isis Tiara (Re, Ce, Le): The best defense on a helm available to the pure
  mages (although Leon would look sorta strange wearing it).

Hermit's Helm (Re, Ce, Le): A good resistance to fire partly makes up for a
  lower defense rating than the Isis Tiara. 

-Best Greaves-
Bunny Shoes (all): Available as a prize in Fun City, the footwear with the
  most ridiculous name is perhaps the best equipment you can wear.
  (Strange how that works out.)  The amount of defense it gives is
  certainly laughable.  However, the Bunny Shoes enable the wearer to move
  _extremely_ fast, faster than normally possible with full Gale, making
  it a huge improvement for any fighter.  Even if you are a mage and don't
  need the speed, you can benefit from the largest stamina boost in the
  game.  And it's just a great fashion statement.  Imagine Dias striking a
  pose after cutting down an enemy -- while wearing bunny slippers.  ;)
Star Greaves (Cl, As, Pr, Op, Bo, Di, Er, Ch): Star Greaves have a high 
  defense rating and are also strong against vacuum and darkness.
Sylvan Boots (Pr, Op, Ch): For the ladies.  Same defense as the Star
  Greaves, minus the elemental resistance.

Mithril Greaves (No): Noel can't wear Star Greaves, so this is the next
  best thing defensively.

Rune Shoes (Re, Ce, Le, No): While the Rune Shoes don't have great defense,
  they do have enormous strength against wind and thunder.

Witch's Boots (Re, Ce, Le): The best boot defense available to the pure
  mages, and they have strength against fire and void as well.

Due to the huge assortment of accessories available, there are no absolute
best combinations of accessories.  However, here are some tips and tricks
to help you choose what to wear:

- Wearing to cover weaknesses: one of the major functions of accessories is
  to shore up and weaknesses or add strengths to your characters.  Up until
  the end of the game, most of equipment you'll encounter won't have any
  extra bonuses, i.e. weapons that reduce MP cost, or armor that protects
  against elements.  Some even have major weaknesses, usually in their
  elemental strength, that can be lethal unless accounted for by another
  item which has enough elemental defense to counteract the weakness.  And
  of course, having an elemental strength can make your life much easier
  when enemy mages come knocking.
  * Keep four Poison/Paralysis/Stone Checks in your inventory. This becomes
    less important as the game progresses, but until you have equipment or 
    spells that can counteract these status anomalies, having a few of 
    these around can save you a lot of money and time.  Later in the game 
    you can get accessories which protect against all status ailments, 
    although none of these have 100% protection like the Checks.
  * If you're stuck looking for good defense against pesky elemental
    attacks, note that equipping ores and jewels will give you some
    protection against an element or two in a pinch.

- Wearing to enhance stats: Many of the accessories will give set bonuses
  to your stats.  Some will also give hidden bonuses, additions to your
  attack or some other stat that isn't shown.  The more powerful
  accessories will give statistical bonuses by percentage, i.e. an extra
  30% added to you strength, or some other stat.  Since your character's 
  stats increase as you go up in level, most of these percentage bonuses
  eventually pass all but the highest set number bonuses.  These percentage
  accessories are also a good reason to invest in skills that raise your
  statistics, since they become more effective when you raise skills that
  pertain to the affected statistic(s).

- Wearing to reduce MP consumption: A good reason to wear accessories is to
  reduce the rate of MP consumption your character has.  Accessories like
  Emerald Rings and Mind Rings can keep your character from running out of
  power over the course of many battles.  Another factor to consider is
  stamina; accessories that have stamina bonuses will help raise the amount
  of MP regained after battle, rather than controlling the usage during
  battle.  Characters with extremely high stamina can sometimes forgo
  reduced MP costs because they regain so much MP after battle.  Also note
  that in a strange role reversal, fighters will usually run out of MP
  faster than the mages, since they can whip out killer moves faster and
  don't have as much MP as the mages get as they level up.

- Redundancy: Make sure that you aren't wearing items that have the same
  functionality, unless it's statistic enhancing.  Knowing that your weapon
  performs the same function as an Emerald Ring allows you to replace that
  Emerald Ring you might be wearing.  If you already have a skill at the
  same or higher level, wearing an item that gives you the skill is a
  waste.  And so on...

- Accessories that break: If you're wearing an item that seems to be too
  good to be true, like the Shield Ring that protects against 90% of
  physical damage, it probably has a downside: some accessories eventually
  will break, leaving you without the item in the middle of battle.  The 
  accessories most suspect are ones that have some sort of absorption 
  involved, such as damage absorption, spell absorption, attack diversion,
  and so on.  Items such as the Wisdom Ring and Silver Cross, which protect
  against status ailments, will also occasionally break, although it
  doesn't happen nearly as often.  If you plan to use these sorts of
  accessories, make sure you've bought, made, or copied more so that you
  have some spares when the current one you're wearing finally falls apart.
  If you find an accessory breaks too often for your tastes and you don't 
  want to deal with the constant replacement of these items, move on to
  some more permanent fixtures.

- Accessory pairs: There are a few accessories that seemingly are intended
  to be worn in pairs.  The best example would be the Left Cross/Right
Cross combination, where each cross cancels the other's weakness.  To a
  lesser extent, the Pyre Tear and Fairy Tear can be considered a pair.
  Also, you can get temporary invulnerability by equipping a Lunatic Ring
  and a Peep Non, at least until the Lunatic Ring breaks.

- If anyone knows what the Insanity Ring does, please inform me, as it is
  the only accessory that completely befuddles me as to its purpose.

- Specific character recommendations:

  * For fighter characters, the Atlas Ring (doubles your strength) can 
    dramatically enhance the power of your attacks and killer moves.  This 
    works best for characters who can equip the Pallas Athena (and maybe 
    Odin's Helm), since it will counteract the severe elemental penalties 
    that the Atlas Ring carries. Another good strength enhancer is the 
    Might Chain, which gives 30% extra strength and a stamina bonus; 
    certainly not as good as 100% extra strength, but there aren't any 
    downsides.  Wearing strength enhancers is especially important to Dias, 
    who needs to do a lot of damage to counteract his small number of hits 
    per killer move.  His best weapon, the Crimson Diablos, acts as a free 
    Atlas Ring.  Wearing one Atlas Ring thus will give Dias 4x the 
    strength.  Two will give him 8x his strength, which no other character 
    can match.  With a decent strength stat, this translates to 9999 damage 
    for every hit, or almost 40,000 damage for a 4-hit killer move!  Watch
    your enemies fall within seconds -- if Dias can hit them, that is...
    Other accessories that increase strength include the Hard Ring/Earring,
    which gives a 30% increase at the expense of dexterity, and the Feet
    Symbol, which gives a 10% increase along with a 20% increase in 

  * Accessories that increase the number of normal attacks per swing are
    less useful, since not all fighting characters have good normal
    attacks.  The best characters to use these accessories on are probably
    Claude, Ashton, Ernest, and Chisato.  Precis and Opera are better at
    longer ranges with their killer moves, Bowman's normal attack is too
    pitiful to use effectively, and Dias's swing comes out too slow to 
    catch faster opponents.  Besides, after some experimentation I've found
    that Dias _can't_ have more than one normal attack, in keeping with his
    philosophy of few hits; equipping a Meteor or Slayer's Ring on Dias
    does nothing.  On the other hand, you'll want to use normal attacks if 
    you rely on canceling or if you have the Eternal Sphere for Claude.

  * The female characters can equip Earrings; Rena and Precis can wear a 
    few, while Celine, Opera, and Chisato can wear the majority of 
    earrings.  Earrings usually have different variations on the normal
    accessories, and using them can free up vital accessories for the male
    characters.  Notable earrings include the Gale Earring, which works
    just like a Meteor Ring; the Lunatic Earring, which works like an Atlas
    Ring, except it penalizes your dexterity instead of your elemental
    strength; and the Silver Earring, which gives 30% extra MP like the
    Luna Tablet.

  * Turning to defense, there are a number of items that give bonuses to
    your constitution and thus your AC.  Talismans and the General's Ring
    will increase CON by 10%, and the General's Ring has a stamina bonus.
    The Leaf Pendant and the Ring of Sadness will increase CON by 30%.  The
    Ring of Sadness has a corresponding 30% decrease in strength, but if
    you use it on a mage, it doesn't matter as much.  The best of these
    items would be the Blue Talisman, which gives a 30% increase and a 
    resistance to water, along with a small stamina bonus.  This accessory 
    is especially useful to Ashton, who relies on high defense to protect
    himself while he inserts himself into the enemy back line and when 
    starting his killer moves, most of which have significant preparation
    times.  The strength against water also eliminates his water weakness
    when using Melufa, his most powerful weapon.  Ashton also has special
    accessories available for his dragons, the Salamander Helmet and
    Sacknoth's Helmet.  These provide straight AC and avoidance bonuses
    which are quite nice, although Ashton's CON rating will eventually rise
    enough so that the Blue Talisman is more effective.  The Blue Talisman
    is also useful in conjunction with the Right Cross; along with
    Reflective Armor, all the elemental weaknesses of the Right Cross can
    be accounted for, and the cross provides extra AC and avoidance along
    with its major effect (doubles MP) to supplement the effects of the 

Using Killer Moves is pretty straightforward.  Just add them to your L1 and
R1 buttons and go commit mayhem.  Linking killer moves becomes a bit more
complicated, and I've included a list of suggested link combos for each
character to help with linking.

- The issues you need to keep in mind when selecting killer moves to use
  include how you want to use a particular character, the makeup of your 
  enemies, and whether you want to try to upgrade a move.  You'll want to
  consider whether you want a character to get close to enemies or to throw
  things at them from farther away and pick appropriately ranged moves. If
  there are flying enemies or mages that you keep bumping into, consider 
  picking moves to get rid of these pesky enemies.  Lastly, make sure you
  keep a move you like and keep using it even if you get a new killer move,
  at least until you're sure it's fully upgraded.

- For the most part, Strong Blow and Flip shouldn't be used with killer
  moves.  Strong Blow will knock enemies out of range for multi-hit moves
  unless the moves have a strong forward component or strike from another
  direction besides outwards from a character.  On the other hand, in
  certain cases Strong Blow will enable a higher float or will have minimal
  effect, so it depends on which move you're using.  Flip takes extra time 
  and is especially disruptive to long range moves and link combos.

- Any combat skill that relates to attack can be used in killer moves.
  Sure, it may sound strange that your Poison Pills are hitting Below the
  Belt and benefit from Mental Training, but if it helps with damage, then 
  you can forget the logic...

- Be careful with some rushing and jumping moves.  If you start one of 
  these moves and another character is blocking your path, you normally 
  won't be able to reach the enemy.  Don't use these moves if the other 
  fighters in your party are already going to be mixing it up at close 
  range, since they'll frequently get in your way.

- Projectile attacks have a few advantages in that the projectile is
  considered separate from the character.  Thus, if your character is hit
  while doing a killer move, any projectile already released will continue
  on its path and won't disappear like melee or streaming attacks.  Also,
  once your character releases a projectile, they are free to move,
  possibly allowing you to start another move before the last projectile
  has hit anything.

- Lobbing projectiles have a specific range and don't deal damage until the
  projectile reaches that range, allowing faster enemies to avoid the
  projectile by moving towards or away from the character.

KILLER MOVE LIST (still in progress)
Killer Moves are the lifeblood of any fighter's attack.  The various killer
moves each character has can include ones that attack multiple times, hit 
multiple enemies, teleport characters around the screen, and even allow
them to heal.

Killer moves are listed in the following format:
Name (Level Obtained/MP consumption)
Upgrading Levels

A + for level obtained indicates that the character starts with this killer
move.  A - for level obtained indicates that the character must discover
the move.

Properties of moves include:
  melee: move involves up-close scuffles with hands, feet, and/or weapons
  stream: move uses a continuous stream to land multiple hits
  shot: move uses projectile which moves in a straight line
  lob: move uses projectile which is lobbed in an arc
  circle: move uses projectile which circles the user
  jump: character jumps into the air, either straight up or in an arc
  rush: character moves forward in a straight line
  dive: character jumps, then rushes forward and downward
  teleport: character disappears and reappears in another area

  invulnerable: character becomes invulnerable to certain attacks
  healing: move heals character
  freeze: move immobilizes enemy for a short period of time
  homing: move follows the enemy
If there are two sets of properties separated by a slash, the first set are
the properties when used in short range and the second set is for long.

For the range, there are a few notations I use.  Range is described on a
scale of 0 to 3, with 0 right next to the enemy and 3 from long range.  'I'
stand for "infinite" and is a special case where a move can be executed
from any distance.  If a range is listed as */*, This indicates that there
are two different effects for short and long range, with the first number
indicating the short range and the second denoting long range.  Thus, 0/2
would indicate a move that has a 0 range at short range and 2 at long
range.  Lastly, -> indicates a change of range during the execution of the
move, so 2->0 would be a move that starts at range 2 and ends at range 0.

Almost all moves have upgrading levels, otherwise known as proficiency
levels.  SO2 rewards frequent use of killer moves by increasing their 
effectiveness at a specific number of uses.  Most of these upgrades come in
the form of more damage and/or more hits, although a few moves actually
change forms.  Not all killer moves have upgrade levels; some come fully
powered and some continuously become more powerful.  The levels description
is also where I note the number of hits that the move has; sometimes this
is more of an estimate, such as ~15 for around 15 hits, since it is
difficult to gauge the number of hits streaming attacks do.  Note that the
game will always make the move more powerful with an upgrade, so unless a 
killer move gets extra hits, assume that the damage is increased.

Phase Gun (Lvl +, 0 MP)
Properties: shot
Range: 2
0: Claude shoots a large beam of yellow energy with his gun.
Comments: Claude automatically acquires this move.  It is the most
  efficient move in the game (0 MP) and does good damage for the first 
  killer move available in the game.  You can only use this move when 
  playing Claude's scenario, and you don't get it very long, so use it as 
  often as you can.

Air Slash (Lvl 3, 4 MP)
Properties: melee / shot
Range: 0/I
  0: (short) Claude swings his sword and forms a bluish shock wave that
             travels along the ground towards the enemy. 1 hit.
     (long)  Claude swings and forms a higher wave around his body from 
               front to back.  1 hit.
200: The waves turn gold and reach higher.
Comments: While it works well during the early stages of the game because
  the enemies are slow, Air Slash is too slow to be useful at long range
  as the enemies become faster.  The close range version will hit multiple
  enemies if they're close, but will normally hit only once.  Useful for
  the early stages and quite cheap, but Claude gets much better killer 
  moves later on.

Shooting Stars (Lvl 7, 7 MP)
Properties: melee / shot
Range: 0/1
  0: (short) Claude pummels the enemy with glowing blue fists.  7 hits.
     (long)  Claude shoots a disk-shaped projectile.  1 hit.
100: (short) Some punches have more range.
     (long)  The projectile becomes larger.
200: (short) More punches have a longer range.  Punches turn golden.
     (long)  The projectile becomes larger.
300: (short) All the punches now have the longer range.
     (long)  Yep, a bigger projectile.
Comments: Claude's first multi-hit killer move, Shooting Stars can be
  useful until the last stages of the game.  However, to make the move 
  truly effective, you need to fully upgrade it.  The punches at lower
  levels just don't have enough range.  A full upgrade corrects this
  problem, and the projectile at higher levels is big enough to hit flying
  enemies.  The short version does take some time and only hits directly in
  front of Claude, so this move shouldn't be used in large crowds.

Head Splitter (Lvl 9, 13 MP) 
Properties: melee, jump
Range: I
  0: Claude leaps in the air and lands on the enemy while stabbing down.
       1 hit.
130: Claude acquires a bluish trail.
260: Claude now somersaults and lands with a downward slash instead of
Comments: Head Splitter is an excellent move because Claude rarely misses.
  Unlike other jumping moves, Claude can jump from any distance and doesn't
  have to be on the same axis to start the move.  The main reason Claude
  misses are usually from jumps across the battlefield, which take some
  time and allow the enemy to move out of the way.  I actually think the
  final upgrade level makes Head Splitter worse, since the somersault adds
  more time and the slash seems to miss more often than the stab.

Energy Sword (Lvl 20, 11 MP)
Properties: healing
Range: I
  0: Claude assumes a stance and a small circle of energy appears around
       him.  Heals 20% of Claude's HP.
100: The circle becomes larger.  Now heals 40% of Claude's HP.
200: The circle becomes larger.  Now heals 60% of Claude's HP.
Comments: Energy Sword is the most powerful of the healing killer moves, 
  since it works on percentages rather than absolute healing numbers, thus
  becoming more powerful as Claude increases in level.  The question is, 
  are you going to sacrifice one of Claude's killer move slots for a move
  that does no damage?

Burst Knuckle (Lvl 28, 12 MP)
Properties: melee / shot
Range: 0/1
  0: (short) Claude creates a ball of flame on his fist and punches. 1 hit.
     (long)  Claude throws a projectile of flame. 1 hit, fire elemental.
100: The flames become larger.
Comments: A quick and dirty move, Burst Knuckle comes out extremely fast.
  Not too flashy, but it does good damage if you're looking for a move that
  doesn't take too much time to pull off.

Ripper Blast (Lvl 38, 17 MP)
Properties: shot
Range: 1/2
  0: (short) Claude slams his sword into the ground, and 2 spikes of rock
               thrust from the ground to impale the enemy. 2 hits.
     (long)  Same as short range, except instead of one line of spikes
               Claude generates 7 sets of spikes in a semicircle.  2 hits.
 90: Another spike appears. + 1 hit.
180: Another spike appears. + 1 hit.
270: Another spike appears. + 1 hit.
Comments: One of my favorite moves, Ripper Blast upgrades quickly and can
  prove lethal against groups of enemies, especially from long range.  The
  spikes are also large enough to hit most flying enemies.  A great move to
  use while approaching or as a follow-up with it huge area of effect.

Twin Slash (Lvl 45, 15 MP)
Properties: melee
Range: 0
  0: Claude hops into the air and does two vertical slashes.  2 hits.
160: Claude adds two more slashes.  +2 hits.
Comments: Not too bad, although the execution is a little slow.  The first
  slash Claude does is upwards, knocking the opponent in the air and 
  rendering them helpless against the remaining slashes.  While this move
  hits high enough to attack flying enemies, you may want to avoid doing so
  since the first slash will sometimes also knock enemies back and out of
  range; flying enemies have a greater chance of being knocked out of 
  range.  Also, Twin Slash is entirely linear, making it a poor choice for
  clearing out groups of enemies.

Dragon Howl (Lvl 53, 28 MP)
Properties: shot
Range: 1/2
  0: (short) A phantom dragon forms above Claude's head and breathes puffs 
               of phantom fire.  3 hits.
     (long)  Same as above, except the dragon flies forward, giving the
               move more range.  3 hits.
250: The dragon breathes an extra puff.  +1 hit.
500: Another puff.  +1 hit.
Comments:  This powerful move is hampered somewhat by its high MP cost and
  the huge amount of uses it takes to upgrade fully.  The puffs of fire are
  high enough to hit airborne enemies, and each puff will knock any
  enemies hit back and stun them for a short period, so multiple puffs will
  keep the enemy busy for a while, long enough for you to press your
  attack.  Comes out fast and is probably Claude's biggest MP eater.

Sword Bomber (Lvl 62, 32 MP)
Properties: shot, jump
Range: 3
  0: Claude straight into the air and shoots 2 balls of fire towards the
       enemy.  2 hits.
140: Extra ball.  +1 hit.
280: Extra ball.  +1 hit.
420: Extra ball.  +1 hit.
Comments: Claude's longest range move besides Air Slash, Sword Bomber is
  excellent for avoiding enemy projectile and breath attacks.  The
  fireballs seem to have a small area effect.  The move can also be lethal
  to advancing flying enemies, as the fireballs will hit them faster.
  However, due to its distance restraints, Sword Bomber does poorly against
  very fast enemies and in smaller battlefields.

Mirror Slice (Lvl 70, 38 MP)
Properties: melee
Range: 0
  0: Claude performs 2 horizontal slashes, a downward vertical cut, and a
       fiery uppercut with his sword.  4 hits.
230: Add before the uppercut a turning low horizontal chop, and two more
       vertical slashes.  +3 hits.
460: Add before the uppercut a low horizontal slash and a downward slice.  
       +2 hits.
Comments: Claude's close range whoop-ass killer move has good range, good
  damage, and will occasionally hit enemies behind and to the side of him,
  depending on the cut he's doing.  A great move to use if you're planning
  to get up close and personal with the enemy.  An interesting fact is that
  unlike his other moves, the move looks different when Claude is unarmed
  (much shorter range).

Twin Stab (Lvl +, 4 MP)
Properties: melee
Range: 0/2
  0: (short) Ashton stabs once with each sword.  2 hits.
     (long)  Still two stabs, but each stab forms a needle of energy that
               extends farther than the swords.  2 hits.
100: Ashton acquires a greenish glow with the stabs.
Comments: Since Ashton takes the time to draw back before stabbing each
  time, this move is in general too slow for most enemies.  The long
  version has much longer range than the short version, making it an okay
  approach move from long range, but the speed kills its use in later

Cross Slash (Lvl +, 8 MP)
Properties: melee / melee, rush
Range: 0/2->0
  0: (short) Ashton does a vertical scissors slash, then rushes forward
               with a horizontal cut.  2 hits.
     (long)  Ashton leaps toward the enemy with a downward slash, then 
               rushes forward as above.  2 hits.
100: Ashton acquires a greenish trail.
Comments: Again, Ashton is too slow with this move to use it regularly.
  This time the delay comes at the end of the move, where Ashton will glide
  towards the enemy.  The problem is, the glide lasts really, really long.
  If you hit but don't manage to kill the enemy, you'll essentially be 
  frozen for a bit, and if you whiff, you'll travel a fair distance in the
  short version and all the way across the screen in the long version.
  Both of these result in lost time and more opportunities for Ashton to be
  hit.  However, in the earlier stages Cross Slash is still serviceable; the
  first slash is large enough to hit flying enemies, and it is pretty
  powerful.  Later, though, you'll want to use other moves for Ashton that
  don't have such severe penalties.

Leaf Slash (Lvl +, 19 MP)
Properties: melee, teleport, invulnerable
Range: 2->0/I->0
  0: Ashton prepares, then runs forward and disappears while three circles
       waves and leaves appear around the hapless enemy.  Ashton will then
       do two slashes while hiding in the leaves.  2 hits.
200: Ashton adds a third, lower slash.  +1 hit.
Comments: The first truly effective killer move for Ashton and one of the
  coolest looking, IMO.  It also showcases Ashton's ninja-like abilities to
  "assassinate" enemies anywhere on the battlefield, and is extremely
  effective against weaker enemies with special abilities, such as enemy
  mages.  There are a few interesting properties to the move as well.  When
  Ashton winks out while running up until the first slash, he is 
  effectively gone from the battlefield and cannot be targeted for any
  attacks.  One of the neatest battles I had involved Ashton charging a
  mage casting Black Saber, and he disappeared right before the spell went
  off.  Too cool.  On the other hand, he is _not_ invulnerable while he's
  attacking, so spells and fast enemies can hurt him.  Also, while Ashton
  can execute Leaf Slash from anywhere on the battlefield, he cannot be too
  close to the enemy, since he needs space to run.  So, in cases where the
  battlefield is small, Leaf Slash is not too useful.  Also, faster enemies
  and ones that turn temporarily invulnerable can avoid Leaf Slash.

Northern Cross (Lvl 18, 9 MP)
Properties: melee / melee, shot
Range: 1/2
  0: (short) Ashton does two quick scissors slashes, then forms a large ice 
               slab in front of him which eventually emits an icicle.  
	       3 hits, water elemental (icicle).
     (long)  Same as above, except that Ashton fires the icicle as a
               large projectile.  1 hit, water elemental.
100: (short) The icicle spike gets longer.
     (long)  The shot icicle gains a greenish trail.
200: (short) Ashton now forms 3 spikes.
     (long)  Icicle gets a longer trail.
Comments: Yep, another super-slow move for Ashton.  The culprit here is the
  enormous pause while Ashton forms his icicle.  While the slab of ice
  might increase his defense and the icicle is pretty big, the time it
  takes usually gives enough time for the enemy to circle behind you, way
  out of range of the icicle.  There are a few uses for Northern Cross.  If
  you find that enemies are aggressive, you can use Northern Cross as a
  defensive move.  The two slashes at the beginning have good range, and 
  Ashton can still hurt people with his extended sword while he's charging
  if they run into it.  This works quite well if Ashton is baiting enemies
  or if he cancels an attack and the enemy tries to retaliate.  Still, it's 
  just too slow to use effectively in most cases.

Piercing Swords (Lvl 22, 12 MP)
Properties: shot
Range: 2
  0: Ashton pulls four swords out of nowhere, two in each hand, and throws 
       them like darts.  Two are thrown poorly and hit the ground.  2 hits.
 65: Same as above, except all four swords are thrown well.  +2 hits.
130: Ashton now pulls six swords out, but one flops and hits the ground.
       + 1 hit.
185: All six swords are now thrown well.  +1 hit.
Comments: Piercing Swords has the strangest upgrading sequence of any
  killer move and has some wacky properties.  For one, the move actually
  seems slightly slower after Ashton pulls six swords, as it takes a little
  more time for him to pull the last pair out.  Also, the move actually is
  significantly different if Ashton is unarmed; Ashton will instead charge
  up with some white energy in his hands and shoot two energy projectiles.
  This unarmed version can also hit flying enemies, while the normal 
  version only travels in a straight line.  Weird.  Anyway, despite the
  pause before he throws, this is a decent killer move, mainly because of
  the possibility of up to six hits and the fact that the swords will 
  travel the length of the screen, making it a good move to throw in a
  group.  It's still too slow for fast-moving enemies, but if you have some
  cover (say, you do it using another character as a shield), Piercing
  Swords can be quite effective.

Hurricane Slash (Lvl 45, 16 MP)
Properties: melee, projectile / melee, projectile, rush
Range: 0/2->0
  0: (short) Ashton twists in the air, slicing twice and throws a small
               whirlwind.  3 hits.
     (long)  Ashton leaps toward the enemy and does a flip while slashing 
               twice and forming a whirlwind.  3 hits.
200: The whirlwind becomes larger.
Comments: Considering the wait (23 levels!), Hurricane Slash is a great
  move that should be an integral part of Ashton's repertoire.  It does 
  good damage, comes out really fast (surprise, surprise!), and uses a
  whirlwind projectile which will pop enemies into the air, giving Ashton
  some breathing room while he recovers from the move (if you look closely,
  it's because Gyoro and Ururun have to unwind). ;)  The upgraded whirlwind
  is tall enough to hit any flying enemy and will pop enemies even higher.
  A great move to use while canceling or using link combos.  Strong Blow
  will actually work well with this move, allowing the whirlwind to knock
  the enemy even higher in the air.

Dead Triangle (Lvl 53, 19 MP)
Properties: melee, teleport, invulnerable, freeze
Range: I->1/I->1
  0: (short) Ashton jumps backwards and disappears.  Three images of Ashton
               reappear around the frozen enemy, forming a triangle of
	       energy.  All three images stab their hovering swords into 
	       the ground, and a large flame appears in the middle of the
	       triangle to burn the enemy.  1 hit.
     (long)  Same as above, except Ashton jumps forward.
Comments:  If the description seems long, that's because the move takes a 
  long time to do.  A really, really long time to do.  However, this
  doesn't mean that Dead Triangle is completely useless.  Dead Triangle is
  a highly specialized, unique move that deserves some discussion:
  *  The enemy caught in the triangle is frozen for the duration of the
     move.  This works on any type of enemy, even those who are normally
     invulnerable to normal attack at times, making this a great move to
     use on those pesky wizards and floating goat-things that phase out
     when you try to attack them normally.  This will not, however, work on
     any boss of any sort.

  *  The freeze and possibility of Ashton hitting can only be done if both
     Ashton and the enemy are unhurt during the move's execution.  Thus, if
     Ashton is hit while he's in the middle of Dead Triangle, no damage
     will be dealt.  Fortunately, only one image of Ashton is real (the one
     in the bottom corner), but any spells or attacks that ruin Ashton's
     concentration will disrupt the move.  Similarly, any spells or attacks
     that hit the frozen enemy will disrupt the move, although this is less
     of a concern.  Thus, Dead Triangle is best used on isolated enemies
     and when your party isn't heavy on attack magic.

  *  While it's usually pretty hard to get the damage off, the freezing
     part can be highly useful to keep mages and other dangerous foes out
     of action until you get backup or the other enemies have been dealt
     with.  Dead Triangle is also a great way to get to another area of the
     battlefield quickly, since Ashton teleports as soon as you start the
     move; it's only the attack that takes so long...

  *  Ashton is invulnerable during the brief time he's gone from sight, and
     also while he's in the process of disappearing.  This, coupled with
     the fact that Ashton jumps backwards at close range, makes this a 
     great canceling move.  It rocks in the Dueling Battles in Fun City,
     since there's no one around to stop Ashton from finishing; just
     attack, cancel into Dead Triangle, rinse, and repeat.  Unless the
     enemy is really fast, you'll usually catch them while they're trying
     to retaliate.

Dragon Breath (Lvl 64, 28 MP)
Properties: stream
Range: 2
  0: Ashton crosses his arms while Gyoro and Ururun grow huge.  One of
       them, chosen at random, will then breath either fire or ice,
       respectively.  ~8 hits, fire or water elemental.
140: Both Gyoro and Ururun will now breathe.  +~8 hits, fire and water
Comments: Ashton's crowd-clearer move.  It comes out a little slow, like
  most of his other moves, but the breath(s) will generate a slew of hits
  on any enemy unfortunate enough to be in front of Ashton when his dragons
  are ready.  It pays to upgrade this move, since you get around twice the
  number of hits, although like all streaming moves it's very difficult to

Sword Dance (Lvl 70, 32 MP)
Properties: melee
Range: 0
  0: Ashton does a quick horizontal cut, a downward slash with his other
       sword, two upper slashes with each sword, another horizontal-
       downward sequence, another upwards slash, and finally a huge closing
       swipe with both swords.  8 hits.
200: Ashton adds another horizontal-downward-upward-upward sequence in the
       middle.  +4 hits.
400: Ashton tacks a jumping uppercut and a two-hit flip to the end.
       +3 hits.
Comments: The counterpart to Claude's Mirror Slice, Ashton's contribution
  is somewhat different.  The slices are much faster, the range is a little
  less with less damage, and Ashton doesn't move forward as Claude does
  when doing his slice and dice.  While not having the range, Sword Dance
  is still an awesome move.  Ashton makes up the smaller damage compared
  to Claude's with more slices, although the quick horizontal-downward 
  swings are usually too fast to register as two separate hits, so Ashton
  will normally get 10 hits fully upgraded on most enemies.  The last hit
  is always at double damage compared to the rest.  Also, Sword Dance has
  some floating properties, where the enemy may be lifted in the air while
  Ashton shreds them.  This is apparent while using Strong Blow, which will
  definitely pop the enemy higher.  Ashton will probably whiff more swings
  while the enemy comes down, but it's a good way to keep enemies occupied,
  and the last hit will sometimes float the enemy, allowing you to start
  all over again.  But best of all, Sword Dance has no pause of any sort,
  making it Ashton's most efficient move overall.  Plus it's dang neat
  looking, making it a must-have for Ashton's arsenal if there's any
  possibility of close-range encounters.

tri-Ace (Lvl -, 45 MP)
Properties: homing
Range: I
  0: Ashton holds his sword out, and Gyoro and Ururun are absorbed into the
       sword.  He then swings the sword twice, forming a ball of energy, 
       then slams the sword into the ground, creating a huge explosion.  
       1 hit.
140: Ashton's sword and swings acquire a greenish glow.
Comments: Found only in the bonus dungeon, tri-Ace has the widest effect of
  any move in the game, hitting all the enemies onscreen.  Great for
  taking out lots of enemies and when you want Ashton to attack from long 
  range, as Ashton remains stationary while using tri-Ace.  Since the 
  hourglass stops while Ashton is swinging, the pause at the beginning 
  isn't as bad as it appears to be.  Add Strong Blow and run into a crowd 
  for laughs; since Strong Blow knocks enemies away from the fighter, 
  Ashton will form a small circle of space around him as enemies are blown 
  away when he uses tri-Ace.

Rocket Punch (Lvl +, 4 MP)
Properties: shot
Range: 2
  0: Precis launches a rocket-powered metal fist at the enemy.  1 hit.
120: Knuckles on the fist gain a yellow forcefield.
Comments: Pretty straightforward.  Rocket Punch doesn't do too much damage,
  but it's fast and will hit flying enemies.  Until something better comes
  along that accomplishes the same thing, it'll do fine.

Hop Step (Lvl +, 5 MP)
Properties: melee, jump
Range: I->1/3->1
  0: Precis leaps in the air, pulls out a huge mallet, and konks the enemy
       on the noggin.  1 hit.
140: Precis gains a green trail.
Comments:  If the range looks strange, it means that Precis can immediately
  jump if she's at short range, but must close to the edge of short range
  when she's farther away.  Unfortunately, Precis has to be on the same
  horizontal axis as the enemy when she does this move, so it doesn't come
  out as fast as Claude's Head Splitter.  Also, she doesn't jump as high,
  which means that sometimes she'll be unable to reach enemies with Hop
  Step if your other characters are in the way, regulating this move to the
  average heap.

Mole (Lvl 17, 7 MP)
Properties: melee, teleport, invulnerable
Range: I->0
  0: Bobot forms a drilling machine, which Precis jumps into (after donning
       a helmet) and uses to travel underground and attack the enemy.  
       1 hit.
100: The machine now travels much faster and hits more.  +1 hit.
Comments: A good move which gives Precis some protection while allowing her
  to approach an enemy.  While she's underground, Precis is essentially
  invulnerable to physical attacks and most spells, although she can be hit
  with Blood Sucker and other such spells that specifically target her.
  While you can use Mole from any distance, it's best to use it from
  outside melee range because of the pause before she jumps in her machine.
  Mole also makes a good candidate for link combos, since she'll be right
  next to the enemy after Mole is done and her normal attack is too slow.

Ally-Oop! (Lvl 25, 8 MP)
Properties: shot
Range: 2
  0: Precis throws the hapless Bobot v1.0 at her enemy.  1 hit.
220: Bobot v2.0 is kicked at the enemy as well.  +1 hit.
Comments: Works basically the same as Rocket Punch, although it's a bit
  more powerful and gains a second hit after upgrading.  Use it to hit
  flying enemies and for a quick one-two attack at a longer range.

Parabola Beam (Lvl 38, 12 MP)
Properties: shot
Range: 2
  0: Precis turns Bobot into a parabolic dish, which emits rings of energy
       that hit the enemy.  3 hits.
120: More rings.  +1 hit.
240: Even more rings.  +1 hit.
Comments: Parabola Beam is a powerful killer move that allows Precis to
  play keep-away with enemies, since each hit knocks enemies back.  The 
  rings have good range and travel fast, and furthermore they have some
  area, so close groups of enemies will all be hit.  Pin enemies against
  the edge of the battlefield and watch them squirm...

Bang-Bang Attack (Lvl 49, 15 MP)
Properties: melee
  0: Precis pulls out a mallet contraption and uses it to flatten the
       enemy.   1 hit.
170: The mallet swings more.  +1 hit.
340: More swings.  +1 hit.
510: Swingie swingie.  +1 hit.
Comments: Four very quick hits at a very close range.  Considering Precis's
  defense, this is not the best move to use directly, since it leaves 
  Precis vulnerable as she tries to close to use Bang-Bang Attack.  On the 
  other hand, its speed makes this move a great add-on to combos.

Bloody Mary (Lvl 57, 32 MP)
Properties: melee, invulnerable
Range: 0
  0: Bobot changes into a large machine with a large drill, and Precis once
       again hops in and rides it into her enemy.  4 hits.
120: +1 hit.
240: +1 hit.
360: +1 hit.
Comments: Precis's most expensive move and highest hit generator, Bloody 
  Mary is great for groups and large enemies, ones that won't move out of 
  the way or attack Precis before Bobot finishes changing.  Precis also 
  seems to be invulnerable to physical attacks while she's in her machine, 
  although I'll have to check that again sometime to be sure.

Barrier (Lvl -, 28 MP)
Properties: lob
Range: 2
  0: Precis tosses Bobot, which generates a huge semicircular forcefield.
       1 hit.
200: The forcefield grows even larger and will now hit twice.  2 hits.
Comments:  The first of Precis's Machinery killer moves.  One of the best 
  multiple-enemy attacks in the game, Barrier has a large area of effect 
  and can be tossed quickly, making this move a big MP drain (not that 
  speed is bad).  The forcefield takes time to grow, however, which leaves 
  Precis vulnerable to attackers who rush her before the forcefield catches 
  up.  Also, Precis needs to be on the same axis before she can throw 
  Bobot.  Thus, this move is best used as an approach move or as a support 
  move for enemies that other characters are engaging. Works great in 
  combos, too.

Mujin Super Beam (Lvl -, 24 MP)
Properties: shot
Range: 3
  0: Precis stands behind Bobot as it grows large and shoots an enormous
       laser shot at the enemy.  1 hit, light elemental.
120: The laser shot gets even bigger.
Comments: The second of Precis's Machinery killer moves.  Mujin Super Beam
  is powerful, but the single hit just can't justify the amount of time it
  takes to set up.  Note that Mujin is the Japanese name for Bobot.

Holo-Holograph (Lvl -, 20 MP)
Properties: melee (sort of)
Range: 2
  0: Precis dons a beret and sits in a director's chair while shouting
       orders to a holographic, robotic Ashton-like Bobot imitating Sword 
       Dance.  4 hits.
130: Bobot gets a greenish glow while attacking.
Comments: Easily the funniest move in the game and the only one that is
  acquired through a PA, Holo-holograph is unfortunately not as useful as 
  Sword Dance.  Bobot moves a tad slower and doesn't hit as much, although
  the range is longer.  If you have fighters who like to mix it up face to
  face, this is a good move to support them, since it won't knock enemies
  back like many of Precis's other moves, and you don't have to crowd
  around the enemy due to its range.  Having Ashton perform Sword Dance 
  while Precis uses Holo-holograph is pretty interesting looking...

Flame Launcher (Lvl +, 7 MP)
Properties: stream / lob
Range: 0/3
  0: (short) Opera's gun emits flames.  2 hits, fire elemental.
     (long)  Opera shoots a reddish ball that explodes into flames when it
               hits the ground.  2 hits, fire elemental.
100: The flames become larger.  +1 hit.
200: Larger flames.  +1 hit.
Comments: Not a bad starting move, since it hits multiple times.  Note the
  huge disparity in the ranges, however; if you want to use the long range
  version, stay far away, and similarly the short range version should be
  done at really close range, to lessen the travel time Opera has to run
  towards/away from the enemy.

Photon Prison (Lvl +, 10 MP)
Properties: shot, freeze
Range: 1/2
  0: Opera shoots a blue projectile that can stop the enemy in its tracks.
       1 hit.
 90: The time that the enemy is frozen is slightly longer.
180: Longer time.
270: Time.  Longer.
Comments: While freezing enemies is nice, the problem with Photon Prison is
  that, unlike Dead Triangle, it doesn't work all the time on normal
  enemies.  In fact, it works less than half the time, and since it doesn't
  do any damage, most of the time using Photon Prison is just a waste.

Alpha on One (Lvl 24, 23 MP)
Properties: shot, homing
Range: 3
  0: Opera rattles off three whitish balls from her gun which home in on
       the enemy.  3 hits.
220: +1 ball.  +1 hit.
440: +1 ball.  +1 hit.
Comments: One of Opera's most effective move and my favorite.  While 
  expensive to use, The homing ability of Alpha on One is simply second to
  none, able to hit almost any enemy.  It works particularly well on
  enemies such as wizards who phase out frequently, following the wizard
  until he phases in again and nailing him all at once.  Alpha on One will
  occasionally miss against supremely fast enemies and enemies who can stay
  invulnerable longer than the ball's lifespan (the projectiles eventually
  disappear after a while if they don't hit a target).  The balls will also 
  miss if any other enemy is in its path as it's moving, since it will 
  damage the obstructing target instead.  Overall, however, Alpha on One
  makes an excellent attack against any enemy.  Just make sure you have
  enough space to shoot, or Opera will be running around.

Spread Ray (Lvl 34, 16 MP)
Properties: shot, jump
Range: 3
  0: Opera jumps straight into the air and shoots bolts down at the enemy.
       2 hits.
180: +1 bolt.  +1 hit.
360: +1 bolt.  +1 hit.
540: +1 bolt.  +1 hit.
Comments: Very similar to Claude's Sword Bomber, with the same uses.  
  Spread Ray seems a tad weaker due to less area effect, but I can't be
  absolutely sure and it doesn't make too much of a difference regardless.

Cold Wind (Lvl 41, 25 MP)
Properties: stream
Range: 1
  0: Opera kneels and shoots a cone of ice shards from her gun.  4 hits, 
       water elemental.
100: +1 hit.
200: +1 hit.
300: +1 hit.
Comments: While you can get a large number of hits with Cold Wind, normally
  you won't get all of them, since it knocks lighter enemies back. 
  Considering the cost and the small amount of damage for each hit, Cold
  Wind is too inefficient for my tastes.  It is useful against enemies weak
  against fire, and you can solve the knocking back problem by pinning
  enemies against an edge of the battlefield.

Gravity Shell (Lvl 54, 20 MP)
Properties: lob
Range: 3
  0: Opera shoots a small projectile, which forms a huge ball of 
       gravitational force and crushes the enemy.  1 hit.
Comments: Sure, it does good damage, but it's slow and hits only once?  At 
  such a high level, I would have expected more.  Maybe I'm missing some
  good use for this move, but until then I'd stick with Opera's more
  effective moves.

Lightning Blade (Lvl 69, 20 MP)
Properties: circle / stream
Range: 0/2
  0: (short) Opera charges her gun with green electic current, then creates
               3 columns of lightning which circle her body.  2 hits.
     (long)  Opera charges her gun with green electric current, then shoots
               a bolt of lightning from her gun.  2 hits.
150: (short) +1 column.  +1 hit.
     (long)  +1 hit.
300: (short) +1 column.  +1 hit.
     (long)  +1 hit.
Comments: Although the pause when Opera collects charge is significant,
  this is still a good move for clearing out groups of enemies.  The short
  range version is more dangerous and doesn't work that well until Opera
  gains extra columns, which shortens the time between hits as well as
  adding to the number of hits.

Healing Star (Lvl -, 9 MP)
Properties: healing
Range: I
  0: Opera shoots a projectile into the sky, which splits into many stars
       that heal all characters by 200 + (# uses) x 5 HP.
Comments:  The first of Opera's Machinery killer moves.  As with the other
  healing moves, the problem with this move is that you must sacrifice a
  move slot for a move that does no damage to the enemy and thus severely
  lowers your attack options.  On the other hand, as healing moves go this
  one is respectable.  At 500 uses, Healing Star will heal each party
  member by 200+500x5=2700.  Healing Star also works almost immediately, on
  par with a spell cast with a successful Motormouth.  It doesn't give as
  much HP as a true healing spell, and it takes a whole lot of uses to
  become effective, but if you find that your party keeps taking a beating
  and constantly needs healing, then this can give your mages some fast,
  cheap support.

Laser Bit (Lvl -, 8 MP)
Properties: shot, lob
Range: 2
  0: Opera throws a mirror out, then shoots a ball that hits the mirror and
       splits into 3, spreading in an even fashion.  1 hit.
100: +1 reflected ball.
200: +1 reflected ball.
300: +1 reflected ball.
Comments: A very strange killer move.  Laser Bit is highly inaccurate and
  takes some time to pull off.  Unless the enemy is right where the mirror
  stops, chances are you aren't going to hit anyone unless they're in a
  large crowd.  Upgrading this move is a must if you plan to use it.  Note
  that it does work significantly better with flying enemies, as the balls
  first travel upwards;  an enemy flying close to the mirror will usually
  get hit by at least half of the balls.

Hyper Launcher (Lvl -, 34 MP)
Properties: stream
Range: 3
  0: Opera transforms her gun into a large beam cannon and shoots a huge
       beam of energy.  ~6 hits.
100: +1 hit.
200: +1 hit.
300: +1 hit.
400: +1 hit.
500: +1 hit.
Comments: This move is extremely difficult to measure in terms of the
  number of hits, so your mileage may vary.  Anyway, even considering the 
  MP cost, this is one of Opera's most effective killer moves.  The range 
  and area of the beam is enormous, the damage for each hit is good,and 
  it's just impressive to watch.  Best used when pinning the enemy against 
  an edge of the battlefield, to prevent Hyper Launcher from pushing 
  enemies beyond the considerable range of the beam.  Like most of Opera's
  other moves, make sure you account for the range before you start the
  move to avoid needless running.





The Link Combo is an accessory that allows characters to "link" two killer
moves together so that one is performed immediately after the other.  This
is faster than inputting the killer moves separately and furthermore allows
the character to have four killer moves available.  If done properly, link
combos can do massive damage.  Some combos can also be done while
canceling, making the link combo even more effective.  However, there are
some disadvantages to using link combos.  One is that the MP cost for both
linked killer moves is considered when you start a combo, so you'll need
more MP on hand to use combos.  Also, you will lose control of the 
character for a longer period of time while the character performs both 
killer moves.  This is especially true if the first killer move misses, 
since the character will continue to attempt the second move while possibly 
chasing the enemy around the screen.  For this reason it is important to 
keep the preparation time between linked moves down to a minimum.  The best 
combos take into consideration the distance that each is performed and the 
effect each killer move has on the enemy.  Of course, you can also link 
moves together simply because the result looks cool. ;)  Here are some
suggestions of link combos for each fighter:

Claude has some of the easiest and most effective link combos, since
most of his moves can be executed from close range or have two different
forms.  All of them can be done with little pause as well, making it easy
to string moves together.  Finally, with the exception of Sword Bomber, all
of these combos can be used with canceling without significant lag time.

Burst Knuckle + Shooting Stars
              + Twin Slash
	      + Mirror Slice
Burst Knuckle is very quick and does good damage, and you should be able to
  follow up with a close multi-hitting killer move.  Actually, since all
  these killer moves are close range, you can pretty much combine them in
  any order and see which ones you like best.

Ripper Blast + Dragon Howl
             + Head Splitter
Ripper Blast makes an exceptionally good starting combo move.  If you start
  this combo at long range, RB will likely hit an enormous number of
  enemies.  Follow with a medium-range move while the enemy reels.  

Dragon Howl + Ripper Blast
The Dragon Howl will knock down floating and flying enemies onto your 
  waiting spikes.  Of course, it works well for grounded enemies, too.

Sword Bomber + Ripper Blast
             + Dragon Howl
Sword Bomber will execute from afar; then, you run in with a slightly 
  shorter range killer move.  I particularly like Ripper Blast, since if 
  you're lucky Claude will still be at long range and you'll get the Ripper 
  Blast's complete 180-degree spread.

Mirror Slice + Shooting Stars
             + Burst Knuckle
	     + Ripper Blast
	     + Twin Slash
	     + Dragon Howl
The concept here is simple: use Claude's most powerful killer move, and if
that doesn't kill the enemy, pummel some more.  Can easily be reversed,
using Mirror Slice at the end and any close-range move to start.

Ashton has problems with link combos because of the noticeable pauses either
at the beginning or end of many of his killer moves, making the placement
of such moves problematic.  He does have some good canceling
opportunities, particularly with Hurricane Slash and Sword Dance combos.

Leaf Slash + Hurricane Slash
           + Dragon Breath
	   + Sword Dance
While not a great combo due to Leaf Slash's pause at the end, it does allow
  Ashton to pop up wherever he wants to on the battlefield and cause a

Hurricane Slash + Cross Slash
                + Dead Triangle
		+ Dragon Breath
		+ Sword Dance
The panacea to Ashton's link combo woes, Hurricane Slash is fast and
  powerful.  More importantly, it will knock your opponent into the air for
  a brief time, giving Ashton crucial time to prepare his next killer move.
  Add Strong Blow for a higher float.  The Sword Dance combination works
  particularly well, since Sword Dance has almost no preparation time.

Sword Dance + Cross Slash
            + Hurricane Slash
	    + Dead Triangle
	    + Dragon Breath
Similar to Claude's Mirror Slice combos, you just lay the damage on and
  wait for the enemy to croak.  Sword Dance can also float with Strong Blow
  and give you extra time to finish off the opponent.  Works especially 
  well with Hurricane Slash.

Precis is a good link combo character, since she can toss many of her
killer moves at lightning speed.  The trick to making combos for her, then,
is to make sure the distances match so that she doesn't spend a lot of time
running around.

Rocket Punch + Ally-Oop!
Easy 3-hit combo which can hit flying opponents.  Switch the two moves for
  nearly identical results.  Substitute Holo-Holograph into either position
  for more hits but less aerial attack power.

Mole + Hop Step
     + Bang-Bang Attack
     + Bloody Mary
Use Mole to approach an enemy, then use a close range move to continue the
  assault.  Works particularly well with Bang-Bang Attack due to its speed.

Bloody Mary + Bang-Bang Attack
Again, a case where the first move approaches to the correct distance for
  the second move.

Parabola Beam + Mujin Super Beam
              + Barrier
One of my favorite combos, Parabola Beam will keep enemies away long enough
  to throw the second move.  It works particularly well with Barrier;
  Precis runs up and lobs a grenade to finish off opponents while they're
  still recovering from the Parabola Beam's effect.  You can substitute 
  Rocket Punch, Ally-Oop!, or Holo-Holograph for Parabola Beam and tack 
  Barrier at the end to get a similar combo.

Opera really isn't much of a combo character because most of her moves lob
projectiles and are very finicky about their distance.  Thus, if enemies 
move between the first and second moves, Opera will have to spend extra
time adjusting her distance with the opponent.  Considering the distance
she needs for most of her killer moves, this can amount to a lot of
running, so I prefer to keep her moves unlinked.

(anything) + Alpha on One
Alpha on One is great in that it doesn't depend on maintaining a certain
  distance while Opera is shooting, since the balls home anyway.   Shoot
  and forget about them.

Cold Wind + Hyper Launcher
Opera's multi-hit mania combo.  Push opponents back with Cold Wind, then
  push them back a little more with Hyper Launcher.  If you can pin enemies
  to the side of the battlefield, this combo is devastating.  You can also
  substitute Lightning Blade for either move.

Bowman thrives on multiple killer moves, and he has some unique moves that 
  can make for some truly strange combos.

Pillory + Spirit Attack
        + Poison Pills
	+ Burst Fist
Pillory allows Bowman to teleport around the battlefield, so tacking a move
  with the proper range allows Bowman to follow up.

Whirlwind Fist + Spirit Attack
               + Pillory
	       + Death Siege
	       + Explosion Pills
In one of the strangest combos around, Whirlwind Fist knocks opponents so 
  high, they're considered long range -- which means Bowman will sink into
  his shadow for Pillory, increasing his chances of connecting.  Spirit
  Attack will usually whiff one or more of the fireballs, Death Siege
  relies on the opponents landing before the images converge, and Explosion
  pills make big pillars of fire to catch the enemy before they land.
  Truly a bizarre combo.

Spirit Attack + Burst Fist
              + Firebird Attack
	      + Explosion Pills
The fully upgraded Spirit Attack will knock enemies far back, allowing for 
  a longer-ranged projectile to be used afterwards.  Burst Fist + Spirit
  Attack also works quite well, with Burst Fist allowing an attack at long 
  range for more versatility.

Explosion Pills + Poison Pills
Attack of the pills.  Explosion Pills has longer range than Poison Pills,
  giving Bowman a little more range to start the combo.  Works fairly well
  against flying enemies, since a higher-powered Poison Pills will emit
  tendrils and Explosion Pills naturally has lots of vertical range.

Sakura Attack + Death Siege
Similar to the other multi-hit barrages, Sakura Attack lays lots of hits on
  an enemy, and Death Siege, which is the only other move Bowman has that
  works at point-blank range, executes immediately after and hits the enemy
  a few more times.

Ernest has a lot of pauses in his killer moves, making them difficult to
use in a combo.  However, his great attack range allows him to employ moves
before the enemy gets in range to retaliate.

Thousand Whips + Dimension Whip
               + Broken Heart
               + Thunder Whip
	       + Sonic Whip
Thousand Whips makes an excellent combo starter due to its speed and
  ability to move enemies away from Ernest, allowing him to set up his 
  second move.  My favorite of these is the one with Broken Heart, which
  also executes quickly and in most cases has just the right range for
  enemies after Thousand Whips.

Dimension Whip + Thousand Whips
Dimension Whip can do a good amount of damage, but leaves Ernest open while
  the dimensional portals are appearing.  Thus, Ernest can follow up with
  his fastest move, which will usually come out just when Dimension Whip is
  hitting and increase the chances of Thousand Whips connecting.

Thunder Whip + Thousand Whips
             + Broken Heart
Again, a slower move is followed up with a faster move to press the enemy
  while it's reeling.

Linking combos is essential to Dias scoring multiple hits on enemies, given
his killer move repertoire.  Linking allows Dias to score many more hits.
Better yet, given the power of many of his moves, Dias will often kill the
enemy with the first move, saving MP and time.

Air Slash + Chaos Sword
          + Hawk Scream Blast
Dias's Air Slash is vastly better than Claude's, allowing it to be quite
  effective in combos.  Using Air Slash allows the second move to be
  executed at long range.  All three of these moves have both a long range 
  and short range form, allowing for great versatility; you can interchange
  any of them and get an effective combo for both long and short range.  My
  personal favorite is Chaos Sword + Hawk Scream Blast.  Fully upgraded, 
  Chaos Sword allows for two hits, while Hawk Scream Blast hits three times
  at close range.

Gale Stab/Firebird Shock Wave + Chaos Sword
                              + Cross Wave
	                      + Crescent Wave
	                      + Hawk Scream Blast
	                      + Illusion
Both Gale Stab and Firebird Shock Wave move Dias next to the enemy, 
  allowing him to continue his mayhem with a close range move.

Crescent Moon Flash + Gale Stab
                    + Firebird Shock Wave
With this combo Dias releases the moon projectile and follows up with a
  rushing attack.  Works well with any close range move or combo you have
  for Dias on the other shoulder button, since Dias will end at close

Crescent Moon Flash + Full Moon Slash
Moon attacks.  This works best when Full Moon Slash isn't fully upgraded 
  and has more range, although the powered Full Moon Slash certainly can be

Illusion + Chaos Sword
         + Cross Wave
	 + Crescent Wave
	 + Hawk Scream Blast
	 + Full Moon Slash
Again, the idea is to lay down immense damage and follow it up with more if
  the enemy doesn't croak.  Most of these moves, with the exception of Full
  Moon Slash, can be interchanged.  Full Moon Slash is a special case; it
  should only be used in this fashion when it's fully upgraded, and only at
  the end because of its pause after Dias is finished.  I find it useful 
  after Illusion or some other close range move to clean up, either by
  striking quick-moving enemies that can dodge or by clearing out enemies
  thinking of sneaking up around Dias.

Chisato works enormously well with linked combos, decimating large groups
of enemies with repeated attacks and allowing her to execute some of her
slower moves while enemies are recovering from her initial attack.

Twister + Whirlwind
        + Rising Dragon
Chisato's close-range martial arts moves work great when linked.  Whirlwind
  + Rising Dragon also works quite well, especially with canceling.  Rising
  Dragon + Whirlwind will also work, although the hits of Rising Dragon
  usually force the enemy a little farther than the range of Whirlwind.

Burning Cards + 10,000 Volts
The two moves with an arc range.  Use Burning Cards first to give more 
  range to start, or switch the order and use 10,000 Volts first to clear
  room for Burning Cards.

10,000 Volts + Flamethrower
The volts clear room for the flamethrower to prep.  Works with both 
  versions of Flamethrower; the lower versions give lots of hits, while
  the fully upgraded version has more range and works especially well with
  10,000 Volts on flying enemies.

Flamethrower + Tear Gas
A multi-hit stream nightmare.  This combo works best with the lower
  versions of Flamethrower.  Tear Gas + Flamethrower also works well with
  any version of Flamethrower.

Spells are really straightforward.  For the most part the job of a mage
simply consists of casting the most damaging spell and/or providing
healing spells for the wounded.  However, there are a few things you can do
to make your spell experiences smoother:

- If using the AI to control your mages, make sure you turn off all spells
  that you don't want the AI to use.  Note that you can always directly
  control a mage and cast any spell you want; turning off spells only
  affect the AI's ability to cast a spell.  This can be important in cases
  like Noel's Earthquake, which will not hit flying or hovering enemies; if
  you are encountering a lot of these enemies and Noel frequently whiffs, 
  disable the spell and let Noel cast Foehn, which will hit all enemies.
  Also, if an enemy is strong against a particular element, try forcing
  your mages to use other spells, although the AI is smart enough not to
  waste spells on enemies that are completely immune to magic.

- Similarly, disabling spells and controlling mages directly can be useful
  in certain battle situations.  If you find that your enemies are too fast
  for your fighters or that the pesky enemy mages are casting too many
  spells, force your mages to cast lower cost, faster spells.  Mages work
  just as well disrupting enemy actions as they do dealing out mass damage.

SPELL LIST (still under construction)




Spell Absorption is the counterpart to Link Combos for fighters.  Using two
mages, spells with compatible elements will interact, resulting in enhanced
visual effects.  When spells are absorbed, words and arrows appear on the
bottom right hand corner of the battle screen, something like:

Friend -> Absorb -> Friend

This indicates that the cast spells are interacting (not that you couldn't
tell that from the graphics).  It also indicates which spell is being
absorbed into which, although I have yet to figure out which direction the
arrows go to indicated the first or second spell that is cast.  Lastly, and
most importantly, it indicates whether the effect is with friends or
enemies.  Spell absorption can be done with any mages, including enemies.
It's possible for enemies to absorb their spells, or in rare cases for
enemies to absorb your spells and vice versa, making absorption a dangerous
pastime in certain situations.

There has also been mention of spell canceling, where one spell cancels
out the effects of another.  However, I've never seen this phenomenon
myself, and elements one would expect to cancel each other, such as fire
and water, end up being absorbed, so I don't have any more information on
this area unless someone can tell me how to do it.

Spell absorption is much more difficult to accomplish than link combos and 
will not work for all spells.  Also, the spell damage is purely additive, 
i.e. two spells interacting results in the same damage as if the spells 
were cast separately, with a few exceptions.  Only certain spells can be 
absorbed, usually mid-level spells.  For these reasons, spell absorption is 
more a novelty rather than an essential battle technique.

This is not to say that spell absorption is completely useless, however.
For one, the resulting spell effects are usually impressive.  Spell
absorption can also help you extend the power of your area effect spells.
Since the spell damage is additive over all the effect of the spells, you
can spread more damage over a larger area then you would with separate
castings.  For example, Eruption and Deep Freeze are both area spells that
can interact.  If the two spells are cast on two different groups of
enemies, the damage to each enemy is still the sum of the damage each would
do separately.  However, since the spells were cast on separate groups, the
total damage done and the area of effect is greater.  Another example is 
Eruption and Noah.  The sum of both spell damages is applied to the area of 
the spell with higher cost, in this case Noah.  Thus, you get the damage 
sum of Eruption and Noah applied to all the enemies.  In general, spell
absorption with two area spells or a lower-cost area spell with a more
powerful spell that affects all enemies will give you more damage done.
Combining two all-enemy spells results in the same damage as separate
castings, and combining a lower-cost spell that hits all enemies with an
area-effect spell results in less total damage, making combinations like
Ray and Black Saber pointless.

The mechanics of spell absorption are as follows: Two spells which have the
same or related associated elements will interact when cast at almost the
same time.  It has been my experience that the spell that is higher in MP
cost will be the one that absorbs the power from the other spell.  Not all
spells can be absorbed; none of the lower level spells which don't stop the
hourglass can be absorbed.  The most powerful spells likewise cannot be
absorbed, and you wouldn't want to anyway, since if two powerful spells
each did more than 5000 damage and were absorbed you'd do less damage,
since the limit to damage is 9999 a hit.  Spell absorption is thus most
useful with the mid-level spells.  The easiest way to accomplish spell
absorption that I've found is to cast the spell with the higher cost first,
since spell cost roughly corresponds to casting time.  Then, depending on 
the cost of the second spell, switch control to the second mage and wait a
bit before casting the second spell.  If the two spells have about the same
cost or if the first mage succeeded with Motormouth, the second spell
should be cast immediately.  On the other hand, if the second spell has
significantly less cost, you may have to wait a few seconds.  In the case
of Motormouth, you also may want to consider switching to a cheaper spell
of the same element to cast faster and catch up with the first mage.

The spells for each element that can be used in absorption are as follows:

Earth:    Earth Grave
Water:    Acid Rain, Deep Freeze, Noah
Fire:     Eruption
Wind:     (none)
Thunder:  Thunderstorm, Thunder Cloud
Star:     Starlight, Tractor Beam
Vacuum:   Energy Arrow, Blood Sucker
Light:    Ray, Light Cross, Lunar Light, Star Flare
Darkness: Shadow Bolt, Black Saber, Shadow Flare
Void:     Press, Gravity Press, Gremlin Lair 

Each element, with the exception of Wind, can be used to absorb spells of
the same element.  The following elements also will interact:

Earth + Water
Water + Fire
Water + Thunder
Fire + Vacuum
Star + Light
Star + Void
Light + Darkness

Note that due to spell distribution Noel is pretty useless for spell
absorption, while Leon is the master of combining spells due to his 
command of water, void, and darkness.

There are two spells which are particularly effective in spell absorption,
both of which belong to Leon.  These spells both have special properties
which allow absorptions to deal much more damage than the normal additive
damage of normal spell absorption:

Acid Rain is a unique spell in that it's the only spell that can be used in
absorption that doesn't do any damage.  The spell normally lowers enemies'
defensive values.  However, used in absorption, it allows spells to do
maximum damage.  That's right, 9999 damage to all enemies that are hit!  It
is best used with Earth Grave, since both spells are extremely cheap and
can be easily timed.  However, Eruption and Thunderstorm will also work
fairly well, although Eruption might affect only those enemies within its
area when used.  Be warned that a few enemies will be immune or even absorb
the damage, gaining 9999 HP!  Thus, make sure you try this combination on 
enemies and see which are affected.

Gremlin Lair is the other spell which works amazingly well with spell
absorption.  This is due to its properties as the only multi-hitting spell
in the game.  The trick here is that the damage is summed for _each_ hit
that Gremlin Lair does.  Since each enemy is hit at least five times,
absorption can make this spell extremely powerful.  The best spell to use
would be Tractor Beam, which can add over 1000 damage to each hit.  Any
other star or void spell will add significant damage to this combo, though,
so use this often if you have Leon around.

(c)1999 Sherwin Tam
This is my personal handiwork, and I took a lot of effort to write it.  
Please do not use this commercially or alter it in any way.  Also, please
ask me if you plan to feature it on a web site or something of that nature,
as I'd rather not come across it one day and go, "Hey, how did that get

Thanks go to:

Ian Kelley, whose excellent FAQ on the Japanese version of Star Ocean 2 and
willingness to answer questions greatly helped my understanding of the 
game.  His web site is at http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~ikelley/SFC.html and 
his FAQ can also be found at www.gamefaqs.com.

GameFAQs (www.gamefaqs.com), one of the greatest places to find information
on any game out there.  There are a whole bunch of FAQs on SO2 now, so
anything you might ask is probably there.

Tri-Ace (www.tri-ace.co.jp) and Enix (www.enix.co.jp), for making a great 

Elizabeth M. Hollinger and James M. Rantkos, writers of Prima's 
(www.primagames.com) strategy guide for Star Ocean 2.  Their guide's visual
walkthroughs were immensely helpful in getting me through the game quickly
while gathering more information.

All you people on rec.games.video.sony, esp. Laura Parkinson, Sean Chang,
Tetsuya, Robert Geiger, and the esteemed Ian Kelley for the SO2 discussion.

All of you who have sent in comments or corrections to my guide.  Thanks
for reading!

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