If a game is bad, people will make fun of it forever. If a game is good, there will be someone out there who just will never shut up about it. And it’s probably you. Give it a rest sometime, jeez. So what happens to the games that fall somewhere in between? Are they just doomed to be lost to history, nobody who cares enough one way or the other to talk about them?
No, that doesn’t happen. Thanks to the subjective nature of opinions and the endless possibilities of people and experiences, everything is loved by at least someone. But it’s pretty easy for something to just disappear outside your personal sphere of experience in this world. For me, Rogue Galaxy is just such a game. I only knew it from some vague memories of some friends of mine renting it once. I only bought it because I came across it while I was nostalgic for that friendship after it ended. I hadn’t played it past the first act for years, finally beating it just now. And man, that was an experience. I’ve seen it largely described as an ‘average’ quality game, hence why you don’t see many people raving about it one way or the other. Yet, it’s not average in the same way most other games are, in being good, but not good enough. No, Rogue Galaxy mixes good game and bad game like oil and water, and somehow that balances out to average. Which, as it turns out, gives me way more to think about. I was planning on writing a post about the game, because if I have to spend all that time in a game that is ‘average’ and therefore clearly beneath me, I don’t want to be the only one to suffer. But I just could not decide on what subject. So I just decided screw it, I’ll just mash all the possible posts into one big dumb chimera post. This is that post. And now you’re reading it. Your life has never been better. Let’s go stream of consciousness on this sucker.
- So, if you take yourself some sci-fi and start softening it up, at some point it starts to become pretty indistinguishable from fantasy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Star Wars rode that line beautifully. Dune did as well, at least until it came to Sting in his underpants. Then it was all fantasy. Rogue Galaxy takes the line about as far as it goes, to the point that you wouldn’t be amiss calling it a ‘Fantasy Game with Sci-Fi Elements’. You should try that sometime. You will gain friends. Anyways, if you took away all the space stuff, you would have yourself the exact same game in a slightly different genre. You have your elves, Scottish dwarves, kings and queens, swashbuckling, pirates, magic, animal people, all that. The separate planets are all monoclimate, and only have one city each, so they’re all largely indistinguishable from standard videogame countries. The atmosphere is such that it all works, though. You take your story seriously, and that leads to questions like “how do I keep running into the same people with a whole galaxy to play with” and “how do you get a worldwide government in place that can all agree with each other” and “why don’t I get to see more of this entire stupid planet than just this postcard-sized space of real estate?” You get a bit lighter with it, you get to get away with it.
- Just one thing I want to share, here’s an excerpt from a walkthrough for the game, put together by one “Shinji” Chow: “All in all, an average RPG that all RPG gamers should try and give a shot at.” It’s a bit of a jump from “Oh meh” to “Everyone has to play this!” but I remember being the exact same way about RPGs at the time this came out. That is largely the reason why the PS2 era is taking so blasted long for me to get through in my “Beat Everything” endeavor.
- The back of the game advertises “Over 100 hours of gameplay!” The game actually took me 47 hours to beat, so a bit longer than most games that make that claim. Thing is this game gets harder to want to play the farther along you get yourself into it. When I got to the end, I had stopped enjoying it a long while ago and was going by sheer force of will. The developers here seem to have forgotten that your hours don’t count if they suck. So much in this game seems designed to just take more time without adding to the experience. Most of the worst of it’s optional, so, you know, fine. All that stupid pokemon bugquest, all the worthless encounter grinding for more points, all the trial and error item crafting, I ignored it all, and never missed it. But there was one thing they forced you through that absolutely killed my interest in the game. Cut-and-paste dungeon design is never forgivable, but this game takes it to the extreme. It got to the point where I was dreading any indoor dungeon, because I knew it’d just be the same few rooms over and over and over. I just don’t understand why they did it. This game obviously had money behind it. They shouldn’t have had to resort to such lazy, lazy design. But maybe they blew it all on that big ol’ dolphin pimping sidequest. I don’t know. What I do know is that the ctrl+c dungeons took what could have been a solid game and dragged it down into the mud. This was singlehandedly the reason I am so glad to be done with it. I would have loved the game so much more if it’s dungeons had just left you the first instance of any given hall or room, but then they would have all been like five minutes long.
- One thing that did kind of irritate me was discovering or opening up some big lost area that nobody’s been to for centuries, and finding it full of people. Like, somehow everyone else got there before I did. What even was the point of that? Aside from a few shops that I don’t need because you can teleport at save points, they added nothing to the area. Fallout 4 does something similar, dropping drugs that were only developed post-war and motley pipe weapons to areas that supposedly haven’t been touched in the past 200 years. If you’re the first person to get somewhere, that’s supposed to mean something. That’s a place that’s different from all these other locations you explore. Both games just spew it all away.
- I’m glad it turned out Kisala was adopted. That way I don’t have to think about Dorgengoa having sex.
- There’s no getting around it. Rogue Galaxy’s plot is as simple and clichéd as it’s possible for a JRPG to be. You can see any given plot twist coming for miles, and nothing gets any real mileage. The game’s really comfortable there, though. It’s not a story that ended up as such due to a lack of creativity; it feels like it was deliberately written to be as rote and familiar as it could be. It’s not a good story, per se, and never gets engaging or draws you in, but it’s not really trying to. It’s kind of an admirable thing, seeing so much design, time, and effort go into making something so deliberately standard. It’s the plot equivalent of junk food. Not everyone wants it, and too much of it is definitely a bad thing, but a bit once in a while is not such a bad thing.
- I have a huge amount of trouble keeping the names of Rogue Galaxy and Rogue Legacy straight. Same with Radiant Historia and Radiata Story. Feels like somebody could make a small little change in order to make life just a little bit easier for a certain sexy informed game connoisseur.