As much as I like Sophia, I do listen to people’s reason on why they hate or do not like her, as long as they are not mindlessly bashing. If the reason is sound, I’ll even admit defeat (you’ll even see a couple of that in this article).
However, most of the constant bashing I saw people throwing out there are just silly. I’m sure there are more than the ones I presented here, but here is a list of some of the more ‘popular’ accusation people bashed her, as well as my two cents on why they are wrong.
How it fuels the hate
First and foremost reason, I believe, is Sophia’s sense of fashion the players witness at the beginning of the game. I’m not really sure what is the trend in Star Ocean 3’s time (the game said Star Date (S.D.) 772. Beats me on when that is when converted to A.D.), but her outfit at the Hyda Resort in the game’s beginning simply begs people to raise questions. She wears a pink tank top. Okay, that still looks normal. But she also wears tight jeans without zipping her zippers. Uh…what?
…Um…yeah…even I, her biggest fan, thought it’s a little weird. That’s pretty much why it was her only costume I didn’t really like much. But seriously, is it really a reason for you to hate / bash on a character simply because of how they dress? Plus, Sophia dressed like that only for a couple of cut scenes in the game. She can’t go back to that dress in battle (aside from within the VS Mode). I dunno. For me, that’s like saying “I hate Kuja from FFIX because he is wearing manly thongs.”
How it fuels the hate
Okay, next, her voice actor, Michelle Ruff, probably took part in making people hate her as well. Keep your pitchforks down, fans. Michelle Ruff is awesome. I love her voice, especially when she is voicing Sophia. Seriously, her Sophia-voice did not bother me a bit, but I’m betting it’s because of Tri-Ace’s scripted battle quotes that made her annoy the heck out of people. You’ll know what I mean when you hear her voice as she got hit. People can’t take her seriously with battle cries like “Owww!!!!”
Okay, her noise can be annoying, but it’s not ear breaking.
My theory was that Tri-Ace originally intended her image to be a cheery mage girl, regardless of situation. Apparently, that turned many people off because those cheery voice that was meant to be adorable turned into annoying.
Then again, people can be annoyed at just about everything. I see people complaining about her voice, yet I’ve never seen anyone complained about Mirage’s “Medicineeeee!!!!”. Personally, I’m more annoyed of Maria’s most battle cries.
Also, if you really think Sophia’s voice is ear breaking, then what about Farleen? Don’t even get me started on Miko from Cross Edge.
How it fuels the hate
Sophia joins your party in an area called Moonbase, which by the time you got to that area, it was like over half way into the game already. This area is filled with robotic monsters, which Star Ocean veterans probably would all agree that these things are abominations you should never mess around with. And to add salt to that, Sophia joins at level 1.
Considering how much pampering you need to get her to the level where her stunlocking career starts, this can pretty much turn off new players and discourage them from using her at all.
(*Note* Not me though. I trained her up immediately after I got her for the first time because seriously, she’s the freakin reason I even started playing this game.)
But now, let’s look into this point by point. First, the reason she starts at level 1. Some players argue that it is stupid to give them a level 1 character after they are already half way into the game. I have a couple of stuffs to counter this point:
- In a game play point of view, Sophia was meant to be a ‘Trophy Fodder’. There is a ‘Battle Trophy’ for ‘leveling up 20 times in a single battle’. Sophia being at level 1 is pretty much a fodder for easy trophies.
- In a story point of view, Sophia apparently NEVER has any battle experience before. It only makes sense she starts at level 1 when she joins the party.
Granted, these are pretty weak excuses, but well, that’s really all the defense I have for her on this regard.
Next, Sophia starts her stunlocking career at around lv42, where she has access to both Berserk and Thunder Flare. People argue that they are better off using that time to train up other characters that can do decent damage. I’ll get into the bits about damage in the next point, but for now, let’s talk about getting her to level 42. If you have been using whatever the game offers you, you should never ever have any trouble in main game, even if you are not using item creation. Heck, I’ve made it a rule that I will never do any item creation in main Galaxy game because it completely breaks an easy game into dusts. Level 42 is not hard to reach at all. It does not take more than one dedicated hour on a good grinding spot. And if you really can’t waste an hour, well…, why are you even playing this game?
Damage > Everything Else
How it fuels the hate
Damage is more important than any other factors in this game. Survivability was considered to be a secondary concern when in a discussion among vets. The short stick fell on our beloved mage yet again because Symbology’s damage multiplier is utterly crappy. Have I mentioned bosses having elemental resistances?
While damage is very important, majority of vets have already agree that a powerhouse team can annihilate Freya only on papers. In practice, Freya (and a few other special bosses) can and will pull out their cheap shot attacks that will potentially wipe your party out in a hit. A huge factor of luck plays a big part in these battles. Sophia offered something else no other characters can: Safety Stunlocking. Thunder Flare is not as awesome as Cliff’s Fist of Fury, but it cannot be AAA’d and she can do it at any range. Of course, when we are discussing characters like this, broken stuffs like Stun Bombs, Roe Hammer / Slash, and Max Shockwave are omitted from the discussion.
This is my personal theory, but I believe some damage nerf was given to Sophia as a trade-off for her huge AoE spells. Imagine if she can do the same numbers Cliff’s Aerial Assault can do with her Explosion spell. I’m sure no one would dump her down the bottom tier ever again.
Shallow, Cliche, and Completely Unimportant
How it fuels the hate
This could possibly be the biggest reason people hate her. Sophia has very little screen and character development time. She joins the party very late and ‘seems’ like she just tagged onto the party. Not to mention falling into an overused childhood friend trope. Finally, some people even claimed that if you remove her from the story, the game would still be the same.
Haha, yeah right.
I am not going to make any defense on Sophia being cliché. But I am going to say that all Star Ocean female protagonists all fall into an overused trope, one way or the other. If you think Sophia is already bad, look at Reimi Saionji from Star Ocean 4. Reimi having more screen time compared to Sophia does not exactly helped her. Sophia doesn’t need all those ass shots to be adorable.
Now, as for being shallow and having less screen time, let’s take into consideration the amount of time she joins your party. Sophia joins your team about half way into the story, at which point the story became very rushed up. My theory is that Star Ocean 3’s story was intended to be at least twice longer than the one we have right now, and the plot about 4D was meant to be developed a little more than this. But because of tight schedule, the game was forced to be released as it is right now (much like SO1 and SO2’s last half of the story). If there were indeed supposed to be some more stories between the Moonbase arc and the 4D plot, Sophia’s screen time and characterization were all lost right there.
Finally, the worst accusation that Sophia, and to a certain extent Ameena, added nothing to the story is UTTERLY BULLSHIT. Anyone who said that never played Star Ocean 3. EVER. Period.
Let’s talk about Ameena first. Her tragic story and the fact that she looks exactly like Sophia are what caused Fayt to stop being reluctant about helping Nel’s country. The story would have never moved on if Fayt does not become determined about ending the war so Ameena can meet Dion again.
Next, we talk about Sophia’s contribution to the story. Are we forgetting that its her power of [Connection] that ‘opened the gateway’ to the 4D universe? Good luck getting the party there (and back) without her help, haters.