Welcome back to The Game Collection, I am
SuperDerek and this is Rogue Galaxy! Rogue Galaxy is an Action RPG by Level 5,
it was released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan in late 2005. During the localization several
improvements were made including smoother graphics, new costumes, tons of new dialog
and newly added abilities for all characters. This version was released in the west in early
2007, then re-released in Japan as the Director’s cut a couple of months later. Akihiro Hino
reprises his roles as Director, Producer, Designer, and Writer for the title, just as
he did in Dark Cloud 1 and 2, and it shows. Rogue Galaxy feels very much like Dark Cloud
2, but has elements of other great games mixed in.
In Rogue Galaxy you play as Jaster, a young man who dreams of travelling the stars. Through
some mix-up, he’s given an opportunity to do just that when he befriends some space
pirates mistake him for a legendary hunter. Together they scour the galaxy for clues to
find the legendary treasures of Eden while evading the war profiteering Daytron corp.
who’s in search of Eden’s darker secrets. If you’re looking for a serious story that’s
internally consistent and will challenge you to become a better person, well, you’ll probably
want to look elsewhere. If Rogue Galaxy were a book, you’d probably find it in the young
adult section, if you know what I mean. The writing and pacing feels pretty amateurish.
For instance, the game sometimes uses the deaths of minor characters to try to evoke
sadness from the player, but sometimes times these characters are introduced to the player
as recently as “a few minutes ago.” Not nearly enough time to develop an opinion of the character,
let alone an emotional bond. Other times characters are known for longer periods of time, but
are under-developed. So none of the scenes make a real emotional impact on the player.
The overall pacing of the game is also confusing. The adventures feel episodic and meandering.
It became difficult to determine exactly how far into the game I was as it didn’t seem
to follow a 3-act structure. It built up some antagonists so much only for them to come
to anti-climactic ends, suddenly introduce a new supremely evil force only to be able
to easily put it to an end too. To top things off, the final showdown takes the form of
an eleven-part boss battle, a dissatisfying ending, and an epilogue that tricked me into
thinking there would be a post-game adventure, which instead lead to a screen that just tells
you what happened next. The game is so weird! Why did they choose to end things this way? I honestly would have been happier with a
To Be Continued screen. Yeah that’s right, I said a To Be Continued
screen, I wanted more! Oh you thought I didn’t like the game? Well yeah the writing is horrible and the
pacing is terrible, but that’s not to say that this game wasn’t a heck of a lot of fun
to play! The game is no Grandia, but it still had a
great sense of adventure to it. Swashbuckling your way through beasts in ancient jungle
ruins in a foreign planet speaks to the child in me who doesn’t care about that other stuff! And flying through space in a legitimate wooden
pirate ship is just cool. Walking around on the deck in the vacuum of SPACE makes the
adult me laugh at the thought, but the kid in me thinks that would be so freaking awesome! But you know what, Adult me? Magic. Magic exists in every RPG ever, so
just get back to suspending your disbelief and enjoy the ride! Rogue Galaxy plays like a mix between Kingdom
Hearts and Dark Cloud 2. Your team consists of 9 members, which you can swap in and out
of your 3-person party on the fly. Each party member has a main weapon and a sub-weapon,
typically one ranged and one melee attack with some exceptions. You can control anyone
in your party, while the other two are controlled by the game’s AI based on your strategy commands.
Rogue Galaxy takes an interesting approach to battles, in that the game is an action
RPG which features random battle encounters. During an encounter, enemies pop up in the
normal field where you’re walking around, and battle commences. After defeating the
enemies, your experience points and spoils are tallied up and you can resume exploration.
It’s an odd choice, but one that I think makes sense for this game, and works pretty well.
I can’t really talk about battles without mentioning that they do get stale after a
while, stemming from being poorly balanced. Enemies and party members all attack for massive
damage, so encounters often feel like skirmishes between glass cannons. Because of this your
strategy will likely be to kill all enemies as quickly as possible, using AOE spells at
the start of battle. Enemy encounter rates are higher than they need to be, so you’ll
often find yourself with more money than you know what to do with, so you’ll likely be
maxing out your inventory with restorative items which will in turn make you nearly invulnerable,
which in turn makes battles more of a nuisance than a challenge for the most part. Except
for some specific types of enemies which are essentially immune to magic, who are then
just annoying to fight because they still deal massive amounts of damage and take forever
to kill. An improvement over the Dark Cloud titles
is that dungeons are no longer repetitive, randomly generated floors of monsters to fight
through. All dungeons are now hand-crafted, though sprawling. It would have been nice
to have a sprint button available because traversing these large areas at Jaster’s leisurely
jaunt takes several minutes, even without enemy encounters to slow you down. However
scattered throughout dungeons there are save points which serve the function of healing
as well as providing transportation to other save points you’ve discovered on the planet.
I also enjoyed the inclusion of dual and triple techs that could be performed by groups of
allies. There’s even a function that acts as a sort of limit-break move you can use
against most enemies which require you to input button presses at the right times to
complete, which isn’t overly difficult, but also doesn’t feel particularly powerful compared
to triple-techs, which don’t have the possibility of failing.
Rogue Galaxy borrows the addicting weapon fusion mechanic from Dark Cloud 1 and 2, and
introduces a skill unlocking system similar to the sphere grid from Final Fantasy X. This
grid is called Revelation, which uses items dropped randomly from certain enemies, or
purchased from stores. There are unique monsters which you can hunt for bounties in exchange
for hunter points and unique items. Those hunter points can be exchanged for more unique
items as you ascend the hunter ranks. There are also hunter challenges you can take on
to defeat a certain number of a specific beast in an area for more points, and there’s even
an insector competition mini-game that you can sink your time into. For the completionist,
Rogue Galaxy can offer 80 hours of gameplay and extras, but I was able to finish the game
at a leisurely pace in just over 50. For a late PlayStation 2 title, Rogue Galaxy
is every bit as beautiful as one might hope. The cell shaded graphics have aged very well,
and you only see particularly low-resolution textures once in a while. Otherwise the game
runs at a smooth framerate, and features minimal load times. It’s a real testament to the power
that the PlayStation 2 was capable of. In fact if it weren’t for the lack of widescreen
support, one could be forgiven for mistaking this for a Nintendo Wii title.
Composer Tomihito Nishiura of Professor Layton fame had worked with Level 5 on the soundtrack
for Dark Cloud 1 and 2, and returned for Rogue Galaxy. The music, as a result, feels very
similar to Dark Cloud 2, adding to that feeling of similarity I alluded to earlier.
There have been no rereleases of Rogue Galaxy, digital or otherwise, so getting a physical
copy is currently the only method of playing it. But complete copies of Rogue Galaxy can
easily be obtained for less than $30, which really isn’t bad for a game of this caliber.
Rogue Galaxy is a fun and addicting game with plenty of things to do that will hold your
attention for hours upon hours. As a successor to Dark Cloud 2 it falls a little short, but
until we get news of a Dark Cloud 3, it’s not a bad way to let Level 5 scratch that
itch. The game borrows freely from other excellent titles, and experiments with new mechanics
that keep the game feeling fresh, and is also one of the best looking games on the PlayStation
2. Sure the plot and characters probably won’t hold your attention, but if you don’t mind
a little bit of mindless fun then I can’t recommend this game enough. And that’s why
it’s got a spot n The Game Collection! Ever want to know why I feel the way I do? Check out my PlayThrough by following the
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