Off the Grid: Rogue Galaxy
Rogue Galaxy is one of those new IPs you expect might not even cross people’s minds, especially since it was released fairly soon after the last major Final Fantasy title. In many “best RPGs on the PS2” lists I fail to see this title, yet it was so much fun that I couldn’t put it down for weeks, clocking in close to 100 hours of game play total. The game was developed by the RPG masterminds at Level 5 (of Dark Cloud and White Knight Chronicles fame) and published by Sony. What made it so fun for me?
The varied environments helped a lot – I haven’t seen an RPG with such cool-looking environments since, with maybe one exception (Tales of Vesperia, for those who need to know). You have everything from dusty desert towns to lush jungles and high-tech, robotic cities. Not to mention you have your own space airship to fly around on throughout most of the game.
While the story was so-so, the characters are what made the game. Even though some of them may have been based on typical JRPG stereotypes, they all had a unique personality that made you fall in love with them almost instantly. Specifically, take a look at the main character – Jaster. At first glance even, he doesn’t appear to be your typical JRPG girly-man hero. He’s rough-looking and his hair isn’t spiky. He was left on a desert planet to be raised by a priest and has dreams of being a space pirate (ok, that part is kind of cliché, but you get the idea). In the early stages of the game, through a bout of mistaken identity, he ends up in the company of a bunch of said space pirates.
The battle system is an action-based system where you attack the enemies in real-time, which isn’t anything new and, in fact, gets a bit button-mashy at times. Still, it’s entertaining laying down the hurt on the randomly appearing mobs (no battle screens, it’s all done on the same field screen). There’s also quite the selection of playable characters to make use of, all having their back-stories put out in the open usually on the planet you acquire them for your adventure. They all also have different fighting styles. You can play with them all and see which ones fit you the best. On top of all that, each character has several different costume changes, which appear in battle and all normal cut scenes. These costumes add various attribute changes to the characters and can be found throughout the game by various means.
Also neat about a battle-related system is that your weapons actually gain experience and level up to become more powerful, in addition to the new abilities and stat bonuses that the character themselves learn from ability points.
Another thing I was obsessed with is filling your enemy kill quota, considered enemy hunting in the game. Each enemy in the game has an entry in your hunter handbook (not exact name, as I can’t remember the correct in-game term). When you killed so many of those particular enemies, you “maxed” out the quota for that particular mob. Also of interest to hunters are the quarries, or rare monster hunts, found throughout the game that rewarded you even more than the regular monster hunting.
Those were the things I found most interesting, aside from the story, but that is only scratching the surface of content to occupy your time in the game. You also had weapon synthesis, insectron tournaments (fighting bugs!), optional locations and quests and rare items to find. When you look at it that way, it’s no wonder I spent nearly 100 hours for one play-through! Anyone else enjoy Rogue Galaxy as much as I did?