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An essay on Galaxies. Rogue ones.

with 3 comments

Me and sekai sat down and finished playing Rogue Galaxy. I’m not sure what compelled us to play it initially, but I wish it hadn’t shown itself.

Being candid, the game sucks. I can’t fathom how anybody thinks its good. It’s problems are legion, to the point that I’m unsure of whether the game went through a quality checking phase at all.

The interface, and the menu in particular, is unintuitive and feels like walking through molasses. Getting to even the simplest of windows that you access more or less constantly, requires the traversal of a minimum of two sub-menus, which in itself isn’t good design, but compounded with the dead time after pressing X where no inputs are sensed this becomes a very real and very  annoying problem. At least once every time I went into the menu, I ended up going into the wrong submenu because I didn’t wait for the dead time after the transition animation. The item menu also lacks tabs sorted by item type, and so ‘clusterfuck’ doesn’t even begin to accurately describe it.

Now for the big failure.

Rogue Galaxy is the most unbalanced game I have ever played. Never before, and hopefully never again, will I play a game balanced as horribly as this. There are so many things wrong with it that I’m having trouble knowing where to start or how to organize it.

Fighting consists essentially of only 5 things: A main weapon (Sword),  subweapon (gun), jumping, guarding, and skills/spells. That might sound like a lot, but you need to understand that this is as far as it goes. There is nothing deeper or more strategic about it. This is where the combat mechanics end. I would include the Burning strikes, but they were activated at random in the jap release of the game and you can’t use them on bosses anyway. I never used the throw command either.

One could be forgiven for thinking that if this is all there is, then as least what is here is balanced well or feels gratifying, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Every element of the battle system feels like it was created to alleviate the problems of another element and it just feels like a giant cobbled together mess.

The spells are overwhelmingly powerful, doing massive damage to all enemies, so the game tries to fix this early on by making the cost to use them so high that you can’t afford maybe one or two before your MP runs dry. It takes no more than 10 hours before this isn’t an issue anymore because the spells don’t get any more expensive as the game progresses. They don’t lose any strength either because all of the spells are balanced to do lots of damage even in the last dungeon. This means that by the time you are on the final dungeon, if you’ve adequately unlocked character skills, you can spam all-powerful link-spells that kill any enemy in one hit.

Character skills are otherwise limited in use or effectiveness to the point that they sit in the dustbin, unused. Exceptions include Flash Sword and Illusion Sword, two skills that Jaster learns within 5 hours of beginning the game. Illusion Sword increases Jaster’s weapon damage astronomically, as well as making his attacks ranged and increasing the number of hits in a full combo. In regular battles it just cuts enemies to ribbons and ends the battle within seconds, and in boss battles it allows you to attack from range for massive damage. Absolutely every enemy in the game is vulnerable to this attack. If you’re having trouble with a fight, then you’re not using Illusion Sword enough.

Both of these problems are compensated for by giving a majority of the enemies either a guard or shield. Guards need to be broken by a charge attack, and shielded enemies need to be shot with a particular gun of Jaster’s. This makes most battles devolve into the frustration of trying to hit long-range or fast enemies with your retardedly slow-charging attack, or fighting the finicky targeting system, shooting into a clusterfuck of enemies hoping you hit the right one before you need to wait 30 seconds while reloading, and then casting a god-bomb spell or using Illusion Sword to kill everything.

There are also no healing spells or skills. so the only way to recover in-battle is to use items, which is a terrible idea because the player spends most of a fight on potion duty, practically drip-feeding your retarded AI partners with the stuff because they can’t be trusted to use them reliably or intelligently. Not like you need to worry about it much. The weakest healing potion cures 50% of an ally’s health and they are cheap enough and drop frequently enough that by the end of the game you’ll be throwing out HP and MP recovery items because you simply can’t fit them into your inventory. I was throwing out everything from potions to max elixers.

Outside of combat isn’t any better. It displays the same callous lack of attention and balancing that the fighting has.

You are free to upgrade the revelation charts as you want, but Level 5 puts you on a fucking choke chain and all but forces you to unlock the charts in a particular order through encounter rates that are nothing if not criminal, and drop rates that would make a WoW player cry; Items and weapons cost next to nothing, and the game throws more money in your face than you know what to do with. I ran out of things to purchase by chapter 6 and spent the rest of the game amassing a fortune in the millions; The invention system is so unnecessarily complicated that its practically its own game and something that all but the stupidest players will avoid.

I spent 60 hours on Rogue Galaxy. 60 hours of sorting through terrible menus to re-equip the gun needed to break the enemies shields so I could farm for items that only had a 1% drop rate to unlock the uber-spell that 1-hit kills every enemy in the game only to have the last boss battle equate to an 8-part puzzle fight that took 45 minutes to finish and see an ending cutscene that endeavored to ruin whatever tattered remains of the story could be found among the smoking rubble of failed exposition. I spent 60 hours doing this. Please, I beg you, do not make this mistake. Rogue Galaxy is one of the worst videogames I have played in my entire life.


Written by PIR

January 11, 2010 at 10:16

Posted in Games

Tagged with , ,

3 Responses

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  1. I decided to use the google filter for my “Rogue Galaxy” search and restrict it to “Blogs” and came upon this recent review. I like hateful reviews: they help me see games that I’m enjoying in a negative light, and the points you make are pertinent. I did notice this slight pause when you access the menu, but, like everything else in Rogue Galaxy, I got used to it.. something I could not do for “Death By Degrees”. However, an even bigger annoyance is that even the AUTOMATED FUNCTION set do advise you that your inventory is full after you get an item-too-many as a reward, has to wait for that pause, to access your inventory menu. Because of this, I never buy a full-capacity of anything, I just leave 5 units under par for each item.

    Not sure myself exactly where I got hooked on this game, I think it was the sheer mass of weapons it had to offer, but I do agree that whatever depth they had hoped to instill in the combat was lost rather quickly. Why give a whole tutorial on “Stomping” an enemy when there’s only one enemy in the whole game that will require this? Furthermore, having to jump for the head of larger enemies later on in the game was completely tiresome, and could not even be accomplished by using an ability to just.. get it over with. Totally agree as well, about having to pull out the Barrier Break Shot to get the fight over with, at one point I just started running away.

    How did you manage to bank 60 hours on a game that you hate?

    As for myself, now I remember, I’m only playing this game for the Factory at this point.



    January 13, 2010 at 13:58

    • Mostly for the comedy factor. It got to a point that everything in the game was either so outrageous or so broken that it was worth pulling myself through it to see how it would break next. It helped that a friend sat through it with me so we both got a laugh. I never ever would have finished it alone.


      January 13, 2010 at 17:06

  2. […] both technical and not, and shows a lack of polish that is actually pretty amazing. When I reviewed Rogue Galaxy, a fellow named pxs commented asking how I could throw 60 hours at a game that I […]

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