So a few years back I played Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XII and Level 5’s Rogue Galaxy within a few months of each other, and noted a disturbing number of similarities between the two. Most of my friends hadn’t played Level 5’s game so they couldn’t see what I was talking about, but the coincidences were just eating at me so for the sake of my sanity I compiled a list. Here are some of the more glaring overlaps between the games that have me thinking Square was straight pilfering their little brother’s pocket on this one.
I’ve read before that the two companies have in the past collaborated on titles - which makes sense being that they work in the same genre vein - but I don’t know of any besides Dragon Quest which was really just more of a hand-off. I don’t believe they collaborated on either Rogue Galaxy or FFXII, but they must have been working on them at the same time, because Level 5’s title released in December of 2005 and Square’s dropped a few months later in March of 2006.
At the beginning of both games you are introduced to a young, sprightly protagonist going about his daily chores in a town surrounded by desert. Both are teen boys with spiky blond hair and an affinity for baggy pants and wrist-guards. Also, they are both orphans, and have been left to the care of charitable men in the form of a priest and a shop owner respectively. Meet, Jaster Rogue and Vaan… uhh, the urchin.
(Seriously Square the princess gets to be Ashelia B’Nargin Dalmasca and your protagonist gets just the one syllable?)
So from here the two youths do what youths do best - fuck shit up and get in trouble. Vaan steals something a pirate wants and Jaster pretends to BE something a pirate wants. Either way, pirates. Vaan teams up with the carefree sky-pirate Balthier and his Playboy bunny companion Fran, and Jaster is swept aboard the good ship Dorgenark. Here he meets the carefree space-pirate Zegram, and a jungle lady as similarly tan, sexy, and scantily clad as Final Fantasy’s viera. Mind you, everything that happens here was in Level 5’s game first.
(Bows and boobs. Killer combo, apparently.)
About this time, both of our protagonists meet a young lady who is to be part of their ragtag band of outcasts. Sounds familiar, here comes the love-interest right? Wrong! Totally platonic. And maybe here’s why – they’re both secretly princesses! Shittin’ bricks yet? Try this picture on for size: Meet, Kisala and Ashe.
(Maybe Square figured this was okay because they had the upper-hand graphically.)
Okay, surely that’s it right? Certainly we can’t use the Airship/Battleship travel method as a point of accusation. But how about the villains? Final Fantasy – Evil scientist. Rogue Galaxy – Evil science *corporation*. But don’t worry neither of these was the real threat throughout the whole game. No, both were revealed to be a tool controlled by… an evil monster god? This isn’t new territory for RPGs, or any game really. “Oh no, bad guy wasn’t half as bad as completely un-introduced *badder* guy!”
But here’s the rub, check out Mother, and The Undying.
(Mother and… Son?)
I mean, Square, you’re not even trying at this point. What happened? I looked up to you. Level 5 looked up to you. You’re our big bro! Now Ubisoft’s smokin’ you in the CGI arms race and BioWare and Bethesda are crushing ‘em outta the RPG park where you used to be home-run king!
Even the “innovative” battle system from XII feels ripped off after playing Galaxy. And they had the added coolness of synthesizing your own weapons and being able to actually see them on your characters as they ran around - in alternating costumes I might add!
I saw your name on MindJack and Mario Sports Mix. Where’s the integrity? You’ve gotta pull it together, for the childrens. No more rippin’ off the hard-working folks at Level 5, and no more slappin’ the brand-name on crap games. Give us gamers some credit, we can tell the difference between new and used.
(Changing “Inazuma 11” to “Samurai 11” a new game does not make. Tsk tsk, Mr. Wada.)