First Review – Rogue Galaxy

RG1

Platform: Playstation 2
Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Level-5
Release Date: January 30th, 2007

Premise

Jaster Rogue, a young man living on the desert planet Rosa, dreams of travelling into space. After an incident involving a monster attacking his hometown, and a case of mistaken identity, Jaster’s wish comes true. He is recruited by a group of space pirates, led by the infamous Dorgengoa, to travel the galaxy in search of the phantom planet of Eden, rumored to house some of the greatest treasures in the galaxy. Little does Jaster realize that his new allies are not the only ones looking for Eden’s treasure, and a dangerous race for the greatest treasure in the galaxy is underway.

Characters

One of the key aspects of the characters of Rogue Galaxy is the fact that every character on your team is interesting. From a combat perspective, each character uses a different set of weapons and sub-weapons at their disposal, making each fighting style different. You can spend your time as Jaster and fight with a sword and gun, or switch things up to a character like Simon who uses flamethrowers and missile launchers.

The bigger success of the characters is that of their story based aspects. Each character is incredibly well written, and not left behind in terms of character development. One of the most heartfelt character stories come from a character without an actual heart: Steve the Robot. Steve spends a lot of his free time in game communicating with his creator. Without spoilers, these interactions are incredibly well written, and not only develop Steve, but his inventor as well, who is a side character. Your crew each has a story to tell, and you are given the opportunity to get to know each one. From the ex-soldier drinking his past away, to an exiled tribal warrior, you are given an incredible vista of personalities, and stories really let you get invested in the story before you.

These characters are also brought to life thanks to an incredibly talented voice cast. While the North American release of the game has only an English dub available to it, it’s fair to say that they really cared about this project and did a fantastic job. Jaster is voiced by Will Friedle, who you may remember as the voice of Terry McGinnis, aka Batman Beyond or from Boy Meets World as the older brother, Eric Matthews. Other notable voice actors include Yuri Lowenthal, Steven J Blum, Kari Wahlgren, Crispin Freeman, and many more.

Visuals

Since Rogue Galaxy was developed and released so late into the life cycle of the PS2, Level-5 took the opportunity to utilize its engine to its fullest. Every planet in the Wilherser System, Whether you are visitng the desolate desert planet of Rosa, to the Jungles of Juraika, or even Zerard, the most modern planet in the galaxy. Each design is beautifully rendered, with the most fitting colors, shades, and has been well thought out to demonstrate the feel of each planet. NPC’s are plentiful and each one has its own name. Your character’s outfits, weapons, and styles are also a feast for the eyes, animated beautifully and exceptionally detailed. You get a very anime feel to the style, and yet has these other aspects to make it unique and a pleasure to both watch and play.

Audio

The score for Rogue Galaxy was composed by Tomohito Nishiura, who also worked on most of Level-5’s other titles, such as Dark Cloud, White Knight Chronicles, and was also involved with Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. His music for each location in the game felt just right when you were there, and added to the overall atmosphere of your environment.

Gameplay – Exploration

One of the many exceptional things about this game is its exploration of the many worlds available to you. The first thing that is very impressive is its lack of loading screens. Once you land on a planet, you may freely roam the vast environments without having to wait to load. Even transitions into cutscenes seem almost seamless in comparison to many games released in its timeline.

Each environment is loaded with treasures to search for. Some of these treasures are rigged with traps. You can either purchase an item to break the trap, or try guessing which type of trap it is and attempt to disarm it. It is a one in three chance for success, and the consequences for getting it wrong aren’t THAT major. Other chests require a key that you may not have obtained, so will require you to revisit that chest down the road.

Save points in the game are plentiful, and will also fully restore HP and AP when you reach one. They also act as transporters, allowing you to travel to any other save point you have already found on that planet instantly. If you find all of the save points on any given planet, then the entire planet map is opened up to you, and you will also have markers on your map that show where all the shops, and missed treasure chests are, making going back for chests you couldn’t access before so much easier.

After the first 5 chapters of the story, you will have the ability to freely travel from planet to planet, to shop for items, weapons, and more that you either couldn’t afford at the time, or just need to replenish.

Gameplay – Combat

During your travels, you can have a total of three active party members at any time. During combat, two of them will be controlled by A.I. and you will have full control of the other. Combat is typical of an action RPG. You have your main weapon which you can use as much as you want, or your sub weapon, which has limited uses per battle. You also have access to your skills and items, which can be accessed easily through a quick menu. You can use this menu to also have your party members use skills or items. It’s important to know who is doing what during a fight, because you have limited actions available, until you need approximately 5 seconds to restore your action gauge. This can also be refilled instantly by successfully blocking an attack. Occasionally, your team will make suggestions to either use one of their skills or an item with a single button command, in order to help the fight along.

Gameplay – Character Progression

While characters level up using a standard EXP system, one of the most unique systems is the Revelation Flow. Each character has a chart requiring you to fill them with items. Whether it’s stuff you buy, or monster drops, everything is useful. Once the right items are placed onto the chart, the character gets a new skill, stat boost, or new resistance to a status ailment or elemental damage. Each character’s Revelation flow chart is extensive, and some items are not available until later in the game, making the progression of each character balanced throughout the game.

RG3

Gameplay – Equipment

Weapons and sub weapons are obtained in many ways. Buying them is the first and most obvious option. The second is in treasure chests. The third, however, is different and very interesting. Early in the game, you are given the ability to combine your weapons into higher level weapons. (How this is done is a huge spoiler, but it’s awesome!) in order to do that, you must use the weapon in so many battles until its usage meter is maxed out. It’s also fair to point out that weapons do have a level requirement, but it isn’t a big issue during your gameplay. There are hundreds of different weapons available to your party members, each with its own distinct look. Each weapon is stunning to look at in its own way, adding to the visual splendor that this game offers.
There is no legitimate armor in this game. You can obtain different costumes for your characters, but most of your defense boosts come from levelling and Revelation Flow. The costumes do provide a very minimal defense bonus, but not enough to keep your favorite outfit on your characters.

Gameplay – Side quests/optional content

While Rogue Galaxy’s main story offers a very long and fulfilling main story, the optional content in the game keeps you coming back.

The first would be the Insectron. During your travels through the Wilherser System, you are able to capture unique bugs called insectors. These bugs can be raised, and bred for a tournament called the Insectron. Your Insectors can be used in a chess like game of 5 vs 5 combat. Each insector has a different special ability, so there is strategy involved in order to become the champion. While bug catching can take time, the Insectron itself is a lot of fun to play. Rogue Galaxy also offers a 2 player option where you and another friend playing the game can pit your bugs against each other. All you need are your two memory cards, and the game itself.

For the combat enthusiasts, there is a list of Boss style bounties available. Each boss requires you to have a specific item at their hideout in order to lure them out for a good fight. Each success increases your rank as a galactic hunter, and also drop some valuable items and gear.

At one point in the game, you are also given access to a factory that allows you to take blueprints and combine items to create more useful items, including weapons, high end healing/revival items, and much more. You have to use the blueprints to build a factory floor, and start a conveyor belt system. This is probably the most challenging system of the game, as it is very time consuming to build the tubes, and machines used to dismantle your items. Metals require a smelter, form press, and a cooling fan in order to properly be put into the assembler. Gems need to go through a grinder, and so on. You also need to make sure all your machines are plugged into a power source for it all to work.

RGF

Lastly, This game also includes two post-game dungeons, if you’re like me and are not satisfied after finishing the main story.

Final thoughts

I have played through Rogue Galaxy three times now. Each time I play the game, I keep getting entranced by the story. the characters are lovable, the worlds are vast and worth exploring every inch, and the gameplay remains addictive even to this day. I tend to put all other games on hold, because I just want to keep going. The game is challenging but not too difficult, and you can easily put in 60 to 80 hours in if you really take your time, explore everywhere, and do all of the side content. The main game will still put in 40-50 hours minimum. There’s not much else I can say about it, but it is, in my personal opinion, Rogue Galaxy is arguably one of the best RPG games on the PS2.

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First Review – Rogue Galaxy

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