Rogue Galaxy

Rogue Galaxy
Rogue Galaxy Cover
Platforms PlayStation 2
Genre Battle Heavy Action RPG
MtAMinutes to Action 6
Keep Playing? Yes
Buy from Amazon

Rogue Galaxy is a 2006 Japanese role-playing game for the PlayStation 2. I was given this game about a year and a half ago and never got around to playing it. Well, the time has come to give it a go, so no better way to play it than to just try out the first hour. Role-playing games don't always fare that well on the First Hour, but there have been a few exceptions. I'm hoping that Rogue Galaxy can join that group. It features cel-shaded graphics and action-focused battles, which definitely brings up pleasant memories of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

The game was developed by Level-5, most famous for their Dark Cloud series that was also very popular on the PlayStation 2. More recently, they created Professor Layton on the Nintendo DS, worked on the much-anticipated Dragon Quest IX, and developed White Knight Chronicles on the PlayStation 3. These guys have been mighty busy it seems. But for right now, let's focus on the first hour of Rogue Galaxy.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Rogue Galaxy begins. A starry galaxy appears followed by the game's story text laid on top of it. No narrator. There's a war going on across the whole galaxy, and it has cast its dark shadow on the desert planet Rosa.

01 - We cut to the planet now, a boy with blonde hair and a huge red scarf appears on the horizon. He's riding some sort of horned camel. This cutscene looks amazing, I can't tell if it's prerendered or what. He begins describing his situation, doesn't seem like a great place.

02 - Well, he heads off into a town. New scene, a tall robot and a short... not sure what it is are arguing with each other. The way these guys talk, I'm pretty sure they're going to be the game's excuse for humor. Hopefully I'll be proved wrong.

03 - Our character marches through the town gates, he's greeted by some soldiers. Now these are the game's graphics, still looks pretty nice though I will admit. Cel-shading ages quite well.

Rogue Galaxy Jaster

05 - He's paid for something he brought back from the desert but doesn't like the amount. He heads into a church and talks to the priest or whatever. The Longardians are in charge, and he does not like it. Seems they've been occupying Rosa since the war hit that part of the galaxy.

06 - Suddenly a giant flying monster appears in town, and even though the guards are there for a reason, our hero still wants to take it on. A mysterious guy joins in on the fight against some of the smaller baddies and the fighting begins!

07 - Real-time action instead of typical JRPG turn-based combat. I like it. X is sword slash, square shoots the gun, and O jumps. R1 guards and I can use items from the menu.

08 - Another tutorial explains the action guage. That's kind of annoying. My friend and I finish off all the foes and I get a bit of skill in both my sword and gun.

10 - I regain control and check out the menu. The main character's name is Jaster, my new ally is just known as "Hooded Man." He's some kind of monster hunter looking for a quick buck. I run a bit and encounter a save point, which of course needs an explanation. You can also teleport between them, which should be convenient. And it refills health!

12 - Another battle, I think it was random, I definitely didn't see the enemies beforehand. Another tutorial shows me how to lock on using the D-pad, that's different at least. Woah, my action guage ran out that battle and I had to book it around the battlefield while it recharged. You know what's awesome? Fighting battles right where you encounter the enemy. No transition. This game has them.

Rogue Galaxy Jaster Simon Battle Recorder

13 - Just noticed the Hooded Man is level 20, that's not a good sign in a JRPG.

15 - Another battle, this time my ally yells out a suggestion. The game tells me not to ignore these, I guess I can instruct them on what to do? Oh, this one healed myself. Jaster flips his sword after winning like Cloud in Final Fantasy VII.

16 - Jaster mutters stuff sometimes, it's really weird.

18 - There are quite a few random battles, more than I would like. But at least they're fun and fast. I just fought some dragonflies that I had to jump to hit. Strategy!

19 - I head into a building and it's all completely seamless, nice.

21 - Level three hit after some more battles. Now I learn about Revelation Flow, you learn abilities by placing the right items on a board in the menu. I head to the board.

Rogue Galaxy Jaster Stars

22 - There's three sets of places to learn abilities, I'm not sure what they're for though. I reveal Flash Sword, it's the only item I have. How do I execute it in a battle though?

24 - The robot and his friend run out of a building during a cutscene. Doesn't seem like Jastser has encountered them yet though. I save my game.

26 - Pressing triangle in a battle brings up the ability menu, I select Flash Sword and it enfuses my sword with lightning. Whenever I hit an enemy, they also get struck by electricity.

27 - Cutscene... the Hooded Man is leaving me. Too bad. He does give me his huge sword though. How does this wimp even hold that thing? He also gives me a Battle Recorder, which... records fights from start to finish? I don't get it.

28 - The cutscene continues as two "Giants" storm out of the sand! Jaster tells them to bring it. I start out with Flash Sword.

29 - Woah, defeated already! Jaster only took four hits! Game Over. How obnoxious. At least I wasn't too cocky and didn't save.

Rogue Galaxy Jaster Simon Steve

31 - While loading, the game updates me with the game's current affairs. Now that's useful.

32 - I can skip cutscenes, thank the Lord.

33 - Beat again, they comboed me to death. This is getting annoying. Why can't it just load right from my last save? Why do we have to go through all this menu crap again? Yes, I know the game is from Sony. Yes, I know the game was loaded!

36 - Finally! They went down pretty easily as I did a lot of running away. After the battle, the robot and his friend appear. The robot is named... Steve-O? He scans my weapon and is quite impressed by it, I guess it's quite rare.

38 - The sword supposedly makes me The Legendary Hunter, Desert Claw. The pair is trying to recruit me onto their ship, but Jaster is quite set on destroying the beast. But hey, they'll come with me. Their names are Simon and Steve.

40 - I head back to the save point... yay!

Rogue Galaxy Jaster Battle

41 - With three characters, battles go quite quick. I can actually switch between them mid-battle, think I'll stick to Jaster for a while.

43 - An item shop, because no matter what the emergency, there's always time to shop. I don't buy anything though.

45 - The game finally tells me I can charge my main attack! Ugh! What? How weak are my new allies? They both get killed in one battle, that was pathetic. Do I really have to babysit their health?

48 - A final save point right in front of the boss... here we go!

50 - We start the encounter, buy my comrades are rather leary about going on. This thing is really big though. This is one of those battles where you have to break off its random armor bits before you can actually really hurt him.

52 - I knock off its four leg shackles and the real battle begins. Well, after the cutscene showing me where his weak spot is and giving me a gun allowing me to create platforms to jump up to it. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Rogue Galaxy Jaster Sword Battle

54 - I'm fighting alone now, I jump up on the temporary platforms created by the Monography Shot and hack away. The platforms disappear though and I need to create new ones. How obnoxious.

55 - Well, actually that was pretty simple. One shot created all four platforms. Oh, another cutscene, this time explaining the battle recorder. I need to record my battle against the Salamander to "net big points."

57 - So now the game doesn't think I should use the Monography Shot to get on his back? Make up your mind!

58 - Well, the final round turned out to mostly be a battle of attrition as I wore him down and healed a lot. He kept breathing fire on me! Give me a break already.

59 - Looks like the Hooded Man was watching me the whole time, he walks away without being seen by Jaster. Make that Jaster Rogue.

60 - Simon and Steve were here to recruit me, their boss, Dorgengoa, wants me on board. Obviously they wanted the Hooded Man though, but I've got the sword, so I've got the power. But that's the end of the first hour of Rogue Galaxy!

Rogue Galaxy Jaster Star Stare

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 6

What was awesome: Rogue Galaxy definitely look wonderful, I'm certainly a fan of cel-shaded graphics though. The characters are nicely rendered and have great facial effects, and the environments are expansive. For a three year old game, I'm definitely not complaining.

I also love the seamless enemy encounters, while the random battles are a bit obnoxious, going from running around to fighting it out only takes about two seconds. Then another two seconds after the battle to sum stuff up and you're back to running around. If a game must do random battles, then do them like Rogue Galaxy.

What I liked: The battles seem like a bit of a button mash fest, but sometimes that's the perfect foil for a story heavy RPG. I like how big the battlefield is, but it would be nice if the camera could pan out even further so you could see your allies too.

I've been playing Japanese role-playing games since Dragon Warrior, and I'm honestly sick of the standard fantasy fare the genre has been crapping out the last twenty years. Rogue Galaxy's story, along with Persona 3, is a breath of fresh air. While I never actually got to go into space, I liked how quickly I inherited the big-bad weapon and became the guy to recruit. I just hope the game can stay fresh, too many start off decently but quickly succumb to the old save the world trick.

Not sure how I feel about the Revelation Board yet, just collect items to learn abilities? Seems a bit simplistic.

Developers, thank you for letting me skip cutscenes, it's a god-send after killing me twice.

What I didn't like: Near constant random battles, while they aren't that bad to actually fight, it certainly becomes an annoyance over time when you just want to get to your destination!

Your allies also seem to be a bit helpless, since the camera doesn't help as much as it could, you're stuck staring at their health bars to see when they're in trouble, instead of actually analyzing the situation by seeing what's surrounding them. While I liked the big battlefield, maybe it would actually have been better to limit the playing field a bit?

Gameplay: Star Ocean 2 style battles makes me happy, I was really pleasantly surprised when I discovered this wasn't a typical turn-based RPG. Very pleased indeed.

Fun Factor: Like I said above, it seems like a bit of a button masher, but once I learn more abilities and discover reasons to actually switch which character I'm controlling, I think things will become more interesting. The constant cutscenes are a bit annoying though.

The back of the box says that there's "more than 100 hours of gameplay." Is this actually appealing to gamers? Anyone?

Graphics and Sound: Yeah, the cel-shaded graphics rock, and the voice acting isn't mute-worth awful. So two plusses right there.

Story: So there's some guy named Jaster Rogue on a desert planet who gets recruited to go fight monsters across the galaxy. It's not out of this world mind-blowing, but it does seem to have a certain charm to it. One of my favorite parts from Final Fantasy XII (well, maybe the only part I liked), was the monster hunting. If Rogue Galaxy can capture that successfully, I'd keep playing.

Would I keep playing? I think I'll give it a try down the road, too busy to play it right now, but it does seem like a decent game.

Rogue Galaxy Kisala