Review by SnakesOnaCrab

Reviewed: 02/08/07

Level 5 has discovered the most horrifying disease known to man, and her name is MIO.

Level 5 has become a pretty popular name in the RPG genre as of late. With the stellar Dark Cloud 2 and Dragon Quest VIII under their belt, it only makes sense to stay excited for their newest product, Rogue Galaxy. Unfortunately, it seems as if Level 5 went as far out of their way possible to make this game hard to enjoy.

The game’s opening is pretty basic and flat, but the introduction of some cute characters kept my spirits high. Jaster, the protagonist, has led a frustrated life under the rule of a heavily armed, though weak-willed galactic empire that occupies his sand covered planet, Rosa. However, when a couple of space-pirate hooligans mistake him for the galaxy’s greatest beast killer, Desert Claw, he is swept in an adventure spanning the limits of his imagination.

The gameplay of Rogue Galaxy is by the far the game’s best aspect. The enemy filled dungeons are large in size and vary in style. Though the level-designs are pretty dull, the amazing combat engine keeps every step and random encounter a blast. In your party of three fighters, you can swap between any character on the fly, but the AI manages to still be competent and aggressive so you won’t be baby-sitting them like you might during certain other action RPGs like the recent console Tales games.

The fighting system is always kept interesting thanks to the satisfying challenge and well done hack-and-slash gameplay. As one of eight unique characters, you’ll slash swords, fire guns and bows, or throw knives and hatchets in your quest. Along the way you’ll find a multitude of optional content such as insect battling tournaments and weapon mastering and mixing.

To keep your party of character up to par, Rogue Galaxy introduces the Revelation Board, which contains dozens of different skills and stat upgrades for each character. Each ability is learned by finding the needed items through victory rewards and shopping from various vendors located throughout the game. The highlight of these abilities lies in the limit-break like Burning Strikes which, through a sequence of precision button pressing, unleashes a combo of powerful attacks. RPG completionists should be kept busy with all of the skills to master for each character.

The graphics aren’t astonishing but still manage to be competent enough with little complaint. Though animations can be a bit rigid, the main character designs and impressive cel-shaded style mostly serve to keep the eye candy in good supply along with the highly impressive explosions and spell effects. Rogue Galaxy’s musical score is functional enough, but doesn’t do much to stand out. The voice-overs are often fitting and the actors are competent enough, but it’s a shame the script they have to work with is so unappealing.

Now is where the story comes in, and where the game completely falls apart. The first four hours of Rogue Galaxy are by far the best spent in the entire game; that is not something that should be said about any RPG, or game for that matter. That is when the story should be in its slowest stages and still being introduced to the player. This is not even the case with Rogue Galaxy; the first four or five hours are spent focused on a backwater planet that refuses to advance its society. This sub-plot has nothing to do with the over-arching conflict, and that is why the first part of the game is the best; the storyline in Rogue Galaxy is total garbage.

Okay, but this would be forgivable if maybe it tried to hide it. Lots of games have lacking stories but still manage to be awesome. Rogue Galaxy fails this also, as it seems most of the effort put into Rogue Galaxy went towards crafting a lame storyline and making it look as awful as possible. As soon as the party of space pirates are assigned to renew their travel visa to continue space exploration is when the game completely destroys itself in the most extravagant way possible. The receptionist the party meets is a young, ditsy female star named MIO, in all capitals. MIO doesn’t seem so much of an actual character as a blaring, offensive siren screaming in your ear that you wasted your money, and the rest of your adventure proves this with amazing precision.

This is also around the time the main conflict of the story is revealed. Come on Snakes, ONE little girl couldn’t ruin an entire game, could she? This is the most fascinating aspect of Rogue Galaxy in fact. Around the time MIO is introduced is when it seems as if the game switched development teams or something. What at first tried to make a serious narrative, is now completely missing and suddenly replaced with a large new cast of unbelievably annoying characters. Characters with stupid visuals designs, characters with idiotic and anger-inducing traits, and characters with bizarre voices. In short, Rogue Galaxy quickly manages to be filled with characters that beg to be stabbed. In fact, it happens so quickly it is almost suspicious; and it all starts with MIO. So, can ONE little girl ruin an entire game? Yes, yes she can, and her name is MIO. Fear her.

In short, 90% of Rogue Galaxy manages to have so many flaws there is simple no way it was an accident of any kind. Level 5 really tried their hardest to make the player hate almost everything about this game. The addictive gameplay is still wholly intact, but the story and cut-scenes are so bad they act as some kind of incurable, parasitic virus; slowly reaching out, and consuming the rest of its host and mutilating everything it touches. It’s sad to say that Rogue Galaxy’s story ends up infecting so much of the game with its pure amount of lameness. Keep in mind I’m being very generous with the overall score, and am trying to be more objective despite how much I absolutely loathed the game. If the score were based entirely on my enjoyment, you could all anticipate a much, much lower grade.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Story: 0

Overall: 6/10

Rating: 6

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