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    Hints and Tips by STam

    Version: 0.41 | Updated: 09/02/99 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

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                           Star Ocean: The Second Story
                       In-Depth Tips and Tricks (US version)
                                   version 0.41
                     written by Sherwin Tam (sct8@cornell.edu)
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    --------------
    ---CONTENTS---
    --------------
    (I'll keep filling this out as I work)
    Introduction
    Version Changes
    Conventions
    Characters
      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
    Equipment
      Tips
      Selected Equipment Descriptions
      Best Weapons/Armor
      Recommended Accessories
    (Playing the Game)
    (Battles)
    Killer Moves
      Tips
      Killer Move List
      Link Combos
    Spells
      Spell Absorption
    (Skills)
    (Specialties)
    (Super Specialties)
    (Endings)
    Disclaimer
    Credits
    
    
    ------------------
    ---INTRODUCTION---
    ------------------
    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...
    
    
    ---------------------
    ---VERSION CHANGES---
    ---------------------
    0.41 (9/2/99): Added more Killer Moves, fixed some errors, added to
    Equipment.
    
    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...
    
    
    -----------------
    ---CONVENTIONS---
    -----------------
    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.
    
    
    ----------------
    ---CHARACTERS---
    ----------------
    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:
    
    --Name--
    Vitals
    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
      party.
    
    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
      infectious.
    
    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
      moves. 
      
    
    --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
      backup.
    
    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
      recruits.
    
    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 
      Ernest).
    
    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---
    ---------------
    TIPS
    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
      elements.
      
    - 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
        power.
      * 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
        down.
      * 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?
    
    
    BEST WEAPONS/ARMOR
    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.
    
    
    --Weapons--
    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
      bonus.
      
    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 
      often).
      
    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.
    
    
    --Armor--
    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
      desirable.
      
    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
      fighters.
    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.
    
    
    RECOMMENDED ACCESSORIES
    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 
        dexterity.
    
      * 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 
        talisman.
    
    
    
    ------------------
    ---KILLER MOVES---
    ------------------
    TIPS
    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)
    Properties
    Range
    Upgrading Levels
    Comments
    
    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.
    
    
    --Claude--
    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
           stabbing.
    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).
    
    
    --Ashton--
    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
      levels.
    
    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
           elementals.
    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
      measure.
    
    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.
    
    
    --Precis--
    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...
    
    
    --Opera--
    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.
      
    
    --Bowman--
    
    
    --Ernest--
    
    
    --Dias--
    
    
    --Chisato--
    
    
    
    LINK COMBOS
    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--
    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--
    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
      ruckus.
    
    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--
    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--
    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--
    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--
    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.
    
    
    --Dias--
    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
      range.
    
    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
      used.
    
    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--
    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---
    ------------
    TIPS
    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)
    --Rena--
    
    
    --Celine--
    
    
    --Leon--
    
    
    --Noel--
    
    
    
    SPELL ABSORPTION
    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.
    
    
    
    ----------------
    ---DISCLAIMER---
    ----------------
    (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
    there?"
    
    
    
    -------------
    ---CREDITS---
    -------------
    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 
    game.
    
    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!