This is actually my current party, although it's missing the PSP-added Welch Vineyard, which I keep thinking is the name of an actual business somewhere.
One of the problems I face with JRPGs, or indeed many RPGs of whatever geographical origin, is the tendency to put in Hidden Items. Not because there is a story reason for them to be hidden, but simply to effectively sell strategy guides, which GameFAQs circumvents to a certain degree. I don't just mean treasure chests or items in inconspicuous locations, but more of having to go through a certain number of very specific actions that nothing in the actual game itself indicates, just to be able to unlock this or that or the other. Final Fantasy 7 players might remember the Gold Chocobo, and Final Fantasy 12 players might recall the Zodiac Spear.
I'm not sure why this happens, although as guessed, it might have something to do with strategy guides. But it's not like I know for certain that this is the case, so everything is just speculation. I might not even bother if all I get is something that has no bearing on the story, but all too often I have to follow the steps of an elaborately-choreographed dance in order to get the True End or something.
I've always figured the Star Ocean setting to be fairly intriguing, at least on the surface. Of course, I've never actually finished a Star Ocean game before (even though I've played at least past the tutorial of all four so far), so I could be missing something. Right now I think Star Ocean: Second Evolution is the furthest I've ever gotten in a game, although Star Ocean: The Last Hope is sitting temptingly near my PS3.
But Star Ocean 2 (or Second Evolution or whatever) has a special place in my nostalgia, thanks to the Star Ocean EX anime. I remember wishing for more Precis screentime, all those years ago, and so now I am making it happen.