dkirschner's Rogue Galaxy (PS2)
| [July 24, 2010 09:18:44 AM]
| Didn't expect to come home and finish, but I did. Saved the galaxy yet again. The final battle had a very nice presentation, two preliminary fights (the second of which I thought was the end), and a final totally awesome ultimate showdown. The first two fights were very easy and if those were the end, I would have been disappointed. The third wasn't necessarily difficult, but it was unique. After you defeat Mother, the Rune, which is like the evil substance that turned her into a monster, attacks the battleship of the evil corporation in the game, with its president, his mistress/VP, and his head scientist. The bad guys were there to take Rune samples and somehow turn it into profit because, hey, that's what evil corporations in games do. So as Mother's Lair crumbles, the Rune eats sucks in the ship, and the final battle is against this sick looking battleship/president/mistress/scientist hybrid monster. I definitely had in my mind what this Rune creature would look like in my head, but when it emerged, it was about 5 times larger and waaaaay cooler. This is why I'm not an artist. I may be able to imagine something like this, but I can't realize it. Anyway, point is the monster looked amazing. The fight was then divided into 7 mini-bosses, one for each character, that represent the ship's weapons. One thing that almost was bad is that you can only equip weapons that you have in your inventory, not stored in this special extra space only accessible at save points. I store everyone's items in the extra spaces if they're not in my current party. Luckily, I had decent weapons on everyone, but if I had had low-level weapons, these fights may have been really painful. If I had died because I just happened to have a low-level weapon equipped and wasn't allowed to access my extra inventory, I would have been peeved.
So, saved the galaxy, all sub-plots wrapped up nice and neat, queue tear-jerking J-pop songs while all the characters return to their planets and loved ones. The space pirates realize the best treasure of all is love and peace. Kisala accepts offer to become princess of Mariglenn. Very touching. Roll credits with more J-pop. Surprise ending after credits. The pirates' last heist is to steal Kisala from Mariglenn? I wonder if she came willingly.
All in all, very impressive game, felt fairly epic. Didn't get to explore as many planets as I would have thought. The generally overly long dungeons sapped some potential environmental variety. Excellent story, great characters, fun combat, lots to do. I'd recommend to the console RPG fan.
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| [July 24, 2010 04:34:26 AM]
| Remember the obscenely long 8-hour dungeon from midway through the game? I made it to what appeared to be the final area (I was right) earlier this week and was excited to finish up. Well, it's another obscenely long dungeon! Except this one isn't interesting to explore and the enemies are the most annoying in the game. Not difficult; annoying. There's a huge difference. The two towers were full of crevices hiding treasure chests, pretty flowing water, and featured very cool intertwining paths up the two towers. This final level is 'Mother's Lair,' Mother being basically the source of evil and other bad things we want to get rid of. All it is is 5 hours (so far) of the exact same rock/lava scenery repeated over and over. After 1 long hour, I hit a save point and was like, "Sweet, almost done." The save point was labeled, "Beginning: Mother's Lair." What!
And the enemies suck. Throughout the game, you get the occasional enemy type that can only be killed by jumping and attacking its head, or by using your Barrier Gun to make it vulnerable, or by performing a 'power attack' break its shield. In Mother's Lair, at least half of enemies are these types. The jumping ones are annoying because you have three characters trying to jump attack, and the enemies fall down when you jump attack. So usually you get like 2 hits in and they fall and you waste the other hits and have to wait for them to get back up. Also, jump-attack enemies can't be hit with magic abilities, which are what I use to quickly win fights. Jump attacking is horribly tedious after a while. The Barrier Gun enemies are annoying because you have to switch out your subweapon (awesome gun for crappy Barrier Gun) every time just to shoot them once. The shielded enemies are annoying because your charged power attack is easily interrupted by any damage while you're charging and vulnerable. Plus, your allies are terrible at performing charge attacks. If you leave two of them with one shielded enemy and go kill all the others yourself, you will probably have had to resurrect them ones, use heal potions, and then finally go to help them just to realize they still haven't managed to get off a single successful charge attack and the shield is still up! Oh, and barriered and shielded enemies can't be hit by magic either until you break through their defenses. Anyway. Why the designers felt the need to make the end of this game incredibly tedious and boring is beyond me.
To defeat Mother, you have to obtain seven pieces of Dragellum, this substance made from your characters' hearts and good will. This is cool because it wraps up each of their side stories, but not cool because you have seven characters, and you have to go down these stupidly long corridors for each one of them. After I did the first one, it was like really, I have to do this exact same thing with these irritating enemies SIX more times?
Frustration aside, I sat there and did it because I genuinely want to know how this one ends because I've very much enjoyed the game up until Mother's Lair. I made it to the Endpoint: Mother's Lair checkpoint and will probably go finish up a few side quests like trying to reach #1 on the Hunter's list, or at least doing all the quarries I can, and picking up my platinum license and seeing what completion rewards MIO has. I could go open all the treasure chests in the game because I've unlocked all the maps and have all 3 keys, but I doubt I need what's in them. There's also the Factory, but again, I doubt I need what I can make by this point in the game. There's also the Insectron tournament, which just seems like a huge time sink for a little mini-game strategy RPG/chess tournament that doesn't interest me that much. It seemed neat at first, but reminds me of Pokemon and has a whole set of associated tasks I do not wish to perform and which are unnecessary to completion of the main game.
That's that. Next post will hopefully be about how awesome the ending was! I've got 2 days to finish it.
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| [July 14, 2010 07:58:54 AM]
| I take back what I said about liking all my characters. Jupis reminds me of Jar Jar Binks. Therefore, I do not like Jupis.
I quit playing today because after a very long time without saving, I died. This comprised the boss fight in the Juraikan ruins and following cut scenes, cut scenes and story progression for obtaining all three artifacts, Zegram's betrayal and associated mini-boss fight, tons of cut scenes and CG sequences in the Rosa desert, including another (2?) mini-boss fights and one real one. I died on the real one. My fault for forgetting to save after the Juraikan ruins, but man, that's a lot of crap to go through again. Hopefully most of it is skippable.
The Frog Log is getting filled out. I have the feeling I'm quite a higher level than intended, now a good 10 levels over my highest level items, and some special fights are very easy. If you find all the save points on a planet, the map shows all treasure chests left so you can go pick up what you missed. I'm still missing the Sun Key, so whatever chests are left now on those planets require that. Insectron is still nearly untouched, except I'm rich now so I've bought a ton of battle food and I think I'm slowly leveling up my bugs. I'm up to 11 or 14 or something in the hunter rankings. I've got a lot more quarries to get and should get up more spots once I tackle them. My Revelation flow charts are getting very filled in, with a few noticeable items missing. There's a four-leaved clover spot and a couple others I've never seen yet. I found my first rare item following a hint from a boy in Vedan about a beating heart he threw in the trash. Dumpster dove and found it.
One cool thing this game does is catch you up on the story every time you load. I find this a great way to remember exactly what I was doing, not that I've had gaps in my play of this, but I could see it being really nice.
I'm unclear as to why the character designers made Dorgengoa a morbidly obese man. I actually thought he was confined to a chair most of the game until I think he was out of it in one scene. I'm still not sure he was and think my mind was playing tricks, or perhaps I dreamed it, because he's always in that chair and I don't see how he can walk.
Haven't touched the factory more, but have obtained a few more recipes. I figure I'm 2/3 - 3/4 of the way through the story. I like guessing this.
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| [July 11, 2010 11:09:36 PM]
| After spending a lot of time over the last week with this game, I claim it's the best RPG I've played in...years probably. The last one I remember liking this much may have been FFX. Seriously, it's phenomenal. I haven't written my Valkyrie Profile 2 entry yet, but that was my favorite for the past year or so, until Rogue Galaxy shoved it off the top of the mountain.
I've already mentioned story, which is still great. Each character has an intriguing back story that ties into the main narrative. Steve the robot was created by a Dr. Piccochio (sp?), who you meet when stopping a computer genius and disgruntled fired Daytron employee (who becomes a party member), Jupis, from using Daytron's mainframe to take over the capital city of Zerard. Dr. Piccachio lost his son somehow and kind of recreated or implanted him or something into the body of Steve. So as Steve travels the galaxy, Piccachio's son gets to go on adventures and tell his dad about the outside world. Vedan, a mining planet, is ruled by the mob, basically, and there you meet Deego, an anthropomorphic dog (lots of anthropomorphic characters in this game, sharks, dolphins, cats, dogs, etc.) who drinks a lot. In his military days, he and a top person in the mob were close friends, but they parted ways after an incident in which they were set up to kill civilians. They are both weighed down by their past, and the first Vedan level involves killing Deego's old friend. The level culminates in a 1-on-1 fight between the two. When Deego wins, his old friend/enemy stands up to the past and decides to go kill those who used them in the past. It's very tragic when the son of the man he kills knifes him. Anyway, point being the back stories are very well tied to the main story and it makes me care about each of my 8 characters.
The overall goal thus far is for my team of pirates to find the lost planet, Eden, which is rumored to have great treasures and resources that if distributed fairly will cease material suffering across the galaxy. Unfortunately, the evil corporation, Daytron, is also searching. I'm currently traversing three ancient ruins on 3 different planets looking for keys for something-or-other to tell me how to do something-or-other concerning Eden. One of the only negative things I have to say about this game is that the dungeons tend to be too long. The first set of ruins I found was a pair of towers constructed by bickering brothers who each wanted to claim their father's throne. These towers together took me nearly all of Saturday to play through. The first one alone may have been like 5 hours long, and the second one no more than half that. And it's not the type of dungeon I can save in the middle of and come back to days later because the paths are winding, the two towers are interconnected, there are 8 floors on each with pathways from one tower to the next at certain floors. I would be hopelessly lost if I'd set the game down without completing the towers. This is definitely the longest by far of areas in the game to now.
The funny thing is that even though the towers took forever to get through, I was totally engrossed. The exploration of the maps is just so damn fun. I love exploring the maps in this game, and on a more general point, the game makes it interesting to explore, and you're intermittently rewarded for doing so. Treasure chests are scattered throughout the world. Check every corner and you will find chests. Some chests are locked with various keys: earth, star, sun...maybe another. I've had the earth key a while and just found the star key in a spot where I could have gotten it much earlier in a chest that required the earth key. So most of the chests I find I can open because they don't require a key. Others require a key I don't have. Others are Mimics. Mimics are vicious in this game. In fact the first time I encountered one, I couldn't believe it was so strong, thought I was in an area too high for me, burned my inventory of potions, and cursed the game a lot for being cheap. Now I've figured out how to defeat them without much hassle, but man, they hit hard and have tons of HP. But, when you kill a Mimic, they drop a Hunter's Coin. Hunter's Coins are accumulated from Mimics and challenge battles. Sometimes instead of a regular battle, you'll get a challenge battle with conditions to meet like "Win without taking damage" or "Defeat all enemies in 18 seconds" or something. Hunter's Coins upgrade your Hunter's License, which gives you discounts at shops. I currently have a Silver License that gives me a 10% discount in shops. At 40 coins I can upgrade, and I've got 38. There are various items in shops, including some rare ones, that require a Platinum License. So defeating Mimics and challenge battles is in my favor and it's always exciting because I tend to save my AP (ability points) for these fights and then go all out to get my coins.
Long dungeons are also rewarding for increasing your Hunter's Rank. I explained about this in the previous post, but basically if you kill a certain amount of each type of monster, you get points that increase your Hunter's Rank, and you get prizes for advancing. I'm currently 23 out of 100, so am doing quite well. I found out where you can get information on quarries, which are powerful monsters you have to lure out with vaguely described items. I just killed one quarry before turning off the game last night for like 18,000 points and moved up from like 40 to 23. The rewards so far haven't been great, mostly just weapons I already had and a Hunter's Coin, but I'm sure the higher rewards will be amazing. I'm nearly at 20, and I still have a lot of quarries to find and kill, plus many dungeons to go through, so I'm pretty confident I'll take #1 before I'm done with the game.
Finally, the last reason playing for a ridiculous amount of time through those two towers wasn't boring was because I'm constantly leveling up weapons. I found this frog, Toady, who due to pollution and mutation, can eat maxed out weapons and combine them to make a new ones. When you use a weapon for 10 or 15 battles, its 'skill' gets 'maxed out,' meaning it's as strong as it's going to get, aside from elemental attributes that continue to level up. Then you have Toady analyze the weapon, and he will suggest which other weapon to combine it with. This results over time in a large database of item combinations that you can play with to see what results. It's always a better item than the two you put in, and sometimes some special variant of a 'normal' version of an item. The secretary for the Galaxy Corporation is named MIO. You spend the first huge portion of the game after joining Dorgengoa's pirates trying to renew your galactic travel visa for your ship through MIO. She has a 'completion guide' and tells you what % of various secondary game objectives you've completed and will give you a prize for completing them. One is analyzing 100 different weapons and creating 50 new ones, which I've done, but haven't gone for a reward yet. I'm enjoying seeing what all weapons there are and what the combinations make. Doing this often requires using low level weapons in place of better ones I have because I need the low level ones to combine with others. This keeps the game challenging because at level 40 I'm running around with a level 8 sword doing crappy damage. I always keep at least one person in my party with an up-to-date weapon so we're not all totally weak.
Finding items to fill out the Revelation chart is also very much fun. Sometimes vendors have limited supplies of certain items, and by now I know which are more rare or valuable than others (usually the ones with limited supplies), and now I'll just buy out all the limited ones if I have the money. The Revelation charts are very big and a couple characters have most of theirs completed. Items are also useful for the factory and the Insectron. After the Jupis and Daytron quest, your reward is Dr. Piccachio's item factory where you can create items you have blueprints for. You obtain blueprints by finding NPCs with little orange or blue circles by their names and talking with them. They'll give you clues about what items to use in the factory to create a new one that will be available in shops. An example might be "Combine 2 Dreamflower Ash, 2 Hellpot Flame, something very cold and something named after a monster." You've got to think a bit about what you have that's cold and maybe trial and error the monster one. There are seven legendary swords that I think can only be crafted through the factory.
And then items are useful for the Insectron tournament, which I haven't played with much. You have insect traps and rearing cages. Bait the traps, leave them around, pick them up when you've caught an insector (insect) inside, and put the insector in the rearing cage. Each rearing cage holds 5 insectors, and from there you can feed them food that increases their stats, have them battle one another which increases stats, or have them mate, producing offspring in place of the parents. I've caught like 6 or 7, played around with feeding them and making them fight, but it seems really slow to get their stats better. The point of this is to win the Insectron tournament where you fight your team of 5 against other NPCs in the galaxy's most popular competition. I tried it as soon as I had 5 and got obliterated in the lowest rank, E. It appears I'll have to raise their parameters with food, fighting and mating before trying again. There are a lot of different families of insector that have different special moves, strengths and weaknesses. The game is played out on a grid like a chess board and essentially is battle chess. One insector is designated the king and the objective is to kill the other player's king. Raising insectors seems to cost a bit of money though for the food and stuff, so could be something to give the game extended life after I'm done with (most of) the rest of it.
I originally planned to knock this out before my trip home in 2 weeks. I'd read it takes around 50-80 hours to beat the game, and the game itself boasts over 100. I figured it'd take me 80 since I'm usually on the long end, which was like 4 hours a day over 3 weeks. That would be just playing it at night during the week and half the day on Saturdays and Sundays. I'm ahead of the goal so far, but have a serious load of work that I need to get on doing before leaving. I'm considering pausing it now. That would be good to focus on working, but bad because I'd have to shelve it for one-and-a-half months. If it really does take up to 80 hours, I could do it, but if it's going to take over 100, then I might not make it and it'd be even worse to have to shelve a game 90% complete than 33% or 50%. We shall see.
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| [July 6, 2010 09:48:00 AM]
| I'm always most excited to start a new game, to see what it's like. Those first impressions of games are like first dates. I get nervous and excited and I don't know how to act. I plan the occasion to make sure I have a couple hours to sink in to get to know it better. Rogue Galaxy was developed by Level-5, a Japanese indie that did the excellent Dark Cloud games and Dragon Quest VIII. So, this is my first entry writing about a game from the first time playing. All others I've recently played through and am writing to preserve memory and practice, or am currently playing off and on but started some time ago.
You are Jaster Rogue, and you live on a dangerous desert planet currently under control by a military supposedly protecting it from a more hostile force. There's a far removed war going on. Jaster is bored and wants to go to outer space. Not an unheard of set-up in fantasy/sci-fi land. But this game executes perfectly the introduction to the game. First of all, RPG protagonists have a tendency to have parental issues, and this drives them on some level, and often times makes them introverts. I'm glad that Jaster is talkative and interesting from the get-go. He was indeed abandoned to a church as an infant and raised by a kindly priest. Here's another strong point: It's been like 2 hours of game time and I am already invested in Jaster's life, his priest father figure, his new friends, his planet and town. Chalk this up to good story-telling and excellent presentation.
Your town is laid siege to by a giant monster, and as you run after it (headed for the residential district, oh no!), a mysterious fighter joins your side. He stays with you a while, impressed in out-of-range-of-Jaster-to-hear monologue, and gives you his sword before departing. Meanwhile, two members of a space pirate crew, inconspicuously named Simon (Scottish accent, sounds just like the dwarf in Halls of Stone in WoW), and a robot, Steve (mild British accent), are searching for the great bounty hunter, Desert Claw. It so happens that your mysterious companion was Desert Claw, and when the pirates see your sword, pronounce you their man, and drag you away with them. Of course, you want to go because you're tired of small-town life, you want to see space, and you quickly realize that Desert Claw was your companion, and not mentioning your inauthenticity may be your ticket to the space pirate life. But first you have to kill this giant monster.
This introduces the bounty system. Giant monsters such as this are worth X amount of points. Killing X number of regular monsters is also worth a lesser amount of points. The specific task shows up after you've encountered that specific regular monster. There is a bounty ranking from 1-100. You begin at 100. Desert Claw is 1. As you accumulate points, you can surpass the greatness of other bounty hunters, and it looks like you're rewarded at 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 9, 8, etc. This is fun. I like being tasked to go kill tough monsters. The little ones, I don't know if I'll keep up with, because based on my first experiences with the first 6 or so bounties, some enemies are more rare than others, so killing, say, 30 of them, may take a while of running around. But then again, I also don't know the locations of different enemies, so I may encounter more of a missed type elsewhere or something. I've moved up to 95 by killing the giant monster and fulfilling two other lesser bounties.
The battle system is real-time, pauses when you open the menu, and seems fast paced. It reminds of a game like Kingdom Hearts, or what stuck with me from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. You control one character of three at a time, and can switch between them if you like. The ones you aren't currently controlling will give you these context commands, "suggestions," for actions they wish to perform (use potion, cast a spell, etc.), and just press the correct button if you want them to do it, ignore them if you don't. You can run, jump, melee attack, or range attack, as well as pause to use abilities or items, swap equipment or characters. You can hit or toss objects in the field as well. Some enemies are shielded, and you have to hold X for a power attack to break the shield. Our boss, a giant dragonfly looking thing, was immune to attacks in certain places. I had to attack it in a certain sequence of spots before it became vulnerable, and even then I couldn't reach the open wound. One of my party members gave me a special gun (don't remember the name) that creates stepping stones you can use to get at hard to reach places. This will I'm sure be useful for finding treasure throughout the game. Anyway, it allowed me to climb on the dragonfly's back and kill it.
As you fight, your weapons level up in Skill and elemental attributes (fire, water, etc.). I'm not sure what skill does yet, except that I read in the manual that you get a frog who can eat two fully skilled up weapons to produce one stronger weapon. After the skill is maxed, the weapon will continue to level up elemental attributes. Characters have few stats and attributes, which makes for less definitions I have to memorize, and there aren't many status ailments, and most of them do the exact same thing. I would say this makes the game too simplistic, but there seems to be plenty of other things to focus on, such as the Revelation system. This is how you acquire skills. It's kind of like the skill grids from Final Fantasy X, XI,and XII (I think all 3), where you put points into a skill anywhere on this giant map to specialize in certain ability types. In Rogue Galaxy though, you put items in the grid, and once they go in, they can never come out. There may be one box, two boxes connected, or like 6 connected boxes which together represent one ability. All connected boxes must be filled with specific items to learn that ability. Further, each character appears to have a different revelation map. When you unlock a skill, all adjacent sets of connected boxes become available for you to fill in. It's neat. I've already learned a few skills on Jaster and two on Simon. I can imbue my weapon with lightning, cast a wind spell, or confuse enemies. I'm looking forward to unlocking more abilities.
So after killing the giant dragonfly monster, Simon and Steve tell you their boss wants you on their crew. Who is their boss? Why, a legendary sky pirate Jaster has dreamed of seeing forever. Before Jaster leaves, he returns to his priest/father to tell him. One reason this game is already so good story-wise is because of the animations of facial expression and interaction, and direction of scenes, not to mention voice acting. Jaster enters the church, the priest, Raul I just remembered, facing away from Jaster to an altar. Jaster looks uneasy, looks away, and begins to tell Raul he's leaving, contemplates it, then just tells Raul how grateful he is for Raul raising him and looking after him. Jaster turns to leave and makes it to the city gates before Raul has caught up with him. There ensues a very touching series of cut scenes with Raul saying he knew this day would come. They used to sit outside at night and look at the starts, Jaster as a child talking about going into space, thinking Raul is silly for not wanting to leave, Raul making comments about this planet being home, etc. Jaster is clearly guilty over his decision and Raul is sad to see him go, and you can feel the old man's loneliness setting in already. This kind of thing in games is generally cheesy and lame for me, but Rogue Galaxy just tells it right. I hope this is a sign of what's to come.
Jaster & Co. leave, there's an exciting CGI sequence/opening credits of a pack of hungry sand worms chasing Jaster and the pirates' space ship, which is a pirate ship, complete with skull and crossbone sails, with rockets for space travel, and a daring rescue of Jaster by a female character. I quit when I found a save point inside the pirate ship and will begin next time by exploring it. Other characters encountered so far are a one-eyed bounty hunter with an ego and a diabolical talking cat who is in charge of the ship while the captain is napping.
One more thing about the level of immersion due to the NPCs is that the NPCs all have names, each and every one of them, has a name above their head. I've already been able to remember what a couple specific people said and who they are in the story. Raul for example, when I remembered earlier in writing, was because the image of his name flashed in my mind. Also, each of the 100 bounty hunters has a name. I've caught a few good ones (Beauti Fulle, Pixel Shayder, and Don Perrigno) and I'm sure there are a lot more that I don't get.
For opening sequences, Rogue Galaxy gets a 10/10. There was also a very nice and timely series of tutorial windows that popped up all throughout this time during battles at the correct moments you needed them and there is a help menu accessible at all times out of battle. Very nice indeed.
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dkirschner's Rogue Galaxy (PS2)
Current Status: Finished playing
GameLog started on: Tuesday 6 July, 2010
GameLog closed on: Saturday 24 July, 2010
dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game
First impressions are important. Two huge thumbs up. Enjoying the battles, loving the revelation system, voice acting is great, artwork very nice, sound and music excellent, nice tutorial, bounty system...Should have lots of fun here. And here at the end, overall fantastic game. Long dungeons, but that's okay. They're generally engrossing. Fighting, story, items, factory, revelation charts, graphics, all very high quality. Excellent game.
Rating (out of 5):