Rogue Galaxy

Jaster Rogue is a boy on the planet Rosa who dreams one day of exploring the galaxy. One day, a band of space pirates recruits him, mistaking him for a legendary hunter named Desert Claw, and takes him on an adventure to discover new worlds and find a mysterious planet named Eden, said to hold the greatest treasures in the galaxy. Rogue Galaxy is an action RPG developed by Level-5, which proves to be an enjoyable title in spite of some flaws here and there.

Unlike in most other action RPGs, battles in Rogue Galaxy are randomly encountered in the game’s vast fields and dungeons. Each of up to three active characters has a main weapon and a subweapon assigned respectively to the cross and square buttons, as well as an action gauge that gradually drains as each character attacks. Whenever a character’s action gauge is empty, his or her commands are temporarily disabled until the gauge refills; however, successfully defending against an enemy attack with the R1 button during this time completely refills the action gauge.

Each character, in addition to HP, also has AP allowing for the use of special skills, with the action of battle, thankfully, pausing while the player is browsing the battle interface for want of a skill or item to use, either of which also consumes points from a character’s action gauge. Sometimes during battle, the two characters not controlled by the player will make up to two suggestions on items or skills to use during battle. The player can select one of these options with the L1 or L2 buttons or skip them by letting the suggestion time expire or pressing the L3 button.

Sometimes, players might encounter challenge battles that have a special condition to fulfill while fighting, which will result in the player acquiring Hunter Coins that they can trade for licenses, which can allow for the purchase of better items in shops and discounted prices as well. Other battles sometimes require a bit of strategy; for instance, Jaster might need to fire a special gun at an enemy to attack it normally afterward, or characters might have to jump and attack to damage enemies.

Characters gain new abilities through the Revelation Flow system, where players place items on a grid for each character to unlock additional skills, some having innate effects such as increased elemental resistance and others being usable in combat. There are some flaws in combat such as the somewhat-awkward camera and targeting systems, but battles generally don’t drag on forever, and in the end, Rogue Galaxy features one of the better action-based combat systems of the current generation of RPGs.

The interface, while a bit on the clunky side, is relatively easy to navigate, and finding out how to advance the main storyline is hardly problematic since the map radar in most instances guides players in the right direction. Save points also provide rapid conveyance among other save points on a planet, and fully recover the player’s party, as well. A factory, moreover, ultimately allows players to create items that become available for sale in certain stores, although the factory interface, unfortunately, is a bit of a nightmare to work with, yet thankfully isn’t entirely necessary to complete the game. Other than the factory interface and slight clunkiness of the menus, interaction is adequate.

Rogue Galaxy has some things going for it in the creativity department, like the unique galactic setting, though the gameplay does borrow some from other RPGs. The action gauge system in battle is somewhat reminiscent of the fury gauge system in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, and the Revelation Flow system loosely resembles the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X. Item creation is nothing new to the genre, either, though Rogue Galaxy’s factory system does manage to keep this aspect on the fresh side. All in all, Rogue Galaxy is a mildly inventive game.

The story, too, has many things going for it, such as an interesting setting and decently-developed characters, though unfortunately, the conflict side of the story coin is heavily underdone. The villains play little part in the plot, and most of the game revolves around the playable characters exploring each individual world and dealing with whatever local problems surround them. Moreover, while there are many twists in the storyline, most are largely predictable. In the end, while the potential of the story falls somewhat flat, the strong cast of characters largely redeems the plot.

The music in Rogue Galaxy is decently-composed, with some catchy tracks that nicely fit the various settings. The voice acting is surprisingly good, as well, especially considering Sony’s abysmal record in this area, despite some occasional annoying voices. The visuals feature Level-5’s trademark cel-shading, making the game generally look beautiful in spite of some typical imperfections of 3-D graphics such as the bland texturing of environments on close-up, and even some slight choppiness in battle. Still, Rogue Galaxy both looks and sounds beautiful.

Rogue Galaxy, finally, has the potential to be a lengthy game, taking somewhere from thirty to sixty hours to complete depending upon how much time the player spends scouring every corner of the game’s vast worlds, with sidequests, and so forth. Overall, Rogue Galaxy proves to be one of many decent swan songs for the Playstation 2, with an enjoyable battle system and decent presentation. It does have some minor flaws here and there, although these don’t detract too severely from an otherwise enjoyable trip through space.

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