2006. That's the year Rogue Galaxy came out. 2008. That's the year I purchased Rogue Galaxy. That Christmas, I wanted a PS3 but because of forces beyond my control, I had to settle for a game of the previous generation. There wasn't a lot of games I wanted from that generation; I beat Kingdom Hearts 2 ad nauseam, I was close to beating Marvel: Ultimate Alliance with every character, Devil May Cry 3 was finally finished and the Sisters of Fate from God of War 2 were thoroughly trounced. After some research I took a flier on Rogue Galaxy, a game with beautiful art style and a combat system I had by then grown accustomed to.
How can you not love this art style?
It started out simple enough: a simple boy from a humble village with dreams of going into space finds the fate of the galaxy in his hands. He gets his wish through a case of mistaken identity and after proving his worth, embarks on a journey with a surprising amount of twists and shocks. For me, it was the perfect game: an adventure where you traveled from planet to planet, fighting all manner of rune infected baddies. For those who don't know, rune was an orange goop that turned animals into beasts and a certain frog into a weapon synthesizer. I thought I'd rap the game up in a week until it happened. For plot reasons you're thrown into a jail and are forced to escape. In the last area you meet warden Rosencaster who then proceeded to pummel me with minimal effort multiple times, each fight shorter than the last. Needless to say I gave up and started the game over, resolving to grind my way through the game. Rosencaster and other bosses fell before me all except... it. The Demon Battleship is a piece of work. Created from the president of Daytron along with his assistant and top scientist all fused to their ship, it requires using every party member for various parts of the body. Because this kind of thing happens regularly, I reached the last stage of the fight and got my ass handed to me. Just when I thought I'd reach the end, victory was taken from me, and I had to start all over again. I was so mad I literally stopped playing the game until the following summer.
This time around I wouldn't be denied; optional hunts were completed, I became the top hunter in the galaxy, the legendary Seven Star Swords were found, I rampaged through the game during a two week stretch like a soon to be 19 year old who got his ass handed to him twice from the same game.
Yes, I also unlocked all the costumes
But that's not why the game is so memorable for me. In previous blogs I mentioned that my favorite games involved traveling to different places, meeting new people (Ironic since I'm not a people person), killing various beasts and a grandiose treasure hunting plot. I spent literal days on end grinding levels, items, powering up weapons, I'd stay up for two days and fall asleep leaving Jaster to run headfirst into a wall for hours. In essence, this game became an addiction, a lifestyle, every waking second my mind became filled with different weapon synthesis combinations and my eyes were always firmly fixated on Lilika AKA my original waifu. Again, the story itself was nothing to write home about, ancient evil threatens to destroy everything, boy is mankind's only hope, that sort. Not bad by any means but takes a backseat to the other facets of the game.
Combat was well executed as well. Every character is given an action gauge I can't remember the name of right now, and attacking in anyway causes it to drain. Once it's depleted you either have to wait for it to refill (Or block an enemy attack to instantly refill it), it was an interesting dynamic in that it forced you plan out your moves in advance and have an understanding of enemy attacks, and any other shielding they may have. About those bounty hunts: They're optional quests you can take from a lady on Zerard and you're rewarded with extra hunter points and items. To fight them however requires a lure, certain items that might draw them out, some even require certain party members to be in the active party in addition to said items. They're a fun diversion and pretty challenging if you're looking for more than EXP filled punching bags.
The Wayward Phantasm
Want a real challenge? Like, an actual real honest to goodness stress test caliber challenge? Take the Ghost Ship Extreme out for a spin. Accessible after beating the story portion of the Ghost Ship (Which itself is only accessible after beating the final boss), you're given the Key to the Underworld after passing a trivia test. That key lives up to it's name, you're trapped in a 100 floor nightmare fighting spectral versions of the beasts you've fought throughout the galaxy and lemme tell ya, the fatigue with this hellspawn sets in by time you reach floor 50. Enemies are tough, shielded and each floor has multiple elevator rooms with only one containing the elevator to go up. There's no secret elevator to take you up multiple floors at once, save points (Teleporters) are rare and the characters themselves remark on how hellish GSE is. My advice? Buy the maximum amount of healing items, AP recharging potions, equip the barrier break gun and make sure you have Supernova level 3 unlocked and be prepared to spend a couple days on this; unless you're a masochist and want to do it in one day. Oh, and every ten floors you have to fight a boss. Some are spectral versions of bounties and boss characters. Get through all that and you'll be rewarded with a swimsuit for Kisala which upon first unlocking it almost made me sell the game. 100 floors of hell for a dumb swimsuit?
Of course I can't make a blog about Rogue Galaxy without mentioning the graphics can I? Level 5 opted to use a cel shaded watercolor-esque art style that you can only truly appreciate in the cinematics and boy are they something to behold. Smoke effects, turf effects, lighting are all done with almost a dream like quality and still hold up well after 12 years.
What makes a good JRPG however is the party members: Kisala, daughter of pirate captain Dorgengoa, the robot Steve who was created by doctor Pocacchio, the odd masked scottish man ball Simon, Lilika the amazonion badass, the genius hacker Jupis Tooki McGanel, war veteran and dog man Deego and veteran bounty hunter Zegram Ghart. Each has their own motivation, and most are a pleasure to play. Except Jupis, who the hell had that lizard in their party? It was the first cast of characters I truly bonded with, the adventuring having drawn me close to them as the game went on. My preferred party was Zegram and Lilika for the record.
Rogue Galaxy is a classic and has a comfortable spot in my ten favorite games of all time. Memorable locations, bevy of things to do, Lilika, an ending that sent the game off on a perfect note and Lilika makes this game a must own. If you never played it on PS2, it's available for PS4 at $14.99. You need this game in your life and you need it now. Drop your real world commitments, responsiblities and other stupid things and play it. Is there a game you consider to be a must own classic? Share them in the comments and thanks for reading.