TGS 2005: Rogue Galaxy Hands-On Impressions

Level 5's newest RPG is on display at TGS 2005. We go hands-on.


Rogue Galaxy

TOKYO--The acclaimed developers at Level 5 have been keeping busy. Coming off the success of their excellent game, Dark Cloud 2, they helped bring the storied Dragon Quest series to new life in Dragon Quest VIII. Rogue Galaxy is its latest role-playing game in development, and we were able to snag some demo time at the Tokyo Game Show. This is one game that we were reluctant to put down.

Rogue Galaxy is a visual leap above Dark Cloud 2, taking that game's cel-shaded charm and enriching it. Characters in Rogue Galaxy lack the thick, somewhat jagged outlines found in other games; they're very smooth and very well animated, as well as shaded to give them great nuance and depth. Designs sport detail from buccaneer chic to bold tribal wear, lending each character lots of personality. And when you've got both pirates and robots in the same party fighting together, you can't help but think that things will turn out all right. Eye patches and polished steel make a great combination, after all.

We took a trio of characters through a crumbling, overgrown ruin. Battles in the game are random, but they load in real time. As you move, a warning message appears onscreen, and then the enemies will come into view. All three characters fight at the same time, though you'll only directly control one of them for the fight. Much like Dark Cloud 2 (whose influences are stamped all over this game), you have both a melee and ranged weapon equipped, and these weapons look like they'll be able to grow in-level as you use them. The weapon-building aspect of Dark Cloud 2 was one of its most involved and addicting features, so it'll be interesting to see if Rogue Galaxy uses a similar system.

When certain conditions in battle are met, your companions will have access to special attacks and abilities. A message appears with the name of the ability and a timer, and you can press either the L1 or R1 buttons to trigger the ability during the countdown. Some trigger powerful attacks, and others seem to trigger what might be stat bonuses during the fight, which can definitely come in handy. When we placed a mask in the center of a large, open courtyard, we summoned a boss monster. It was a lion built out of a tree, his fur rough bark and dense foliage serving as his mane. He was a pretty tough opponent, but with some help and healing from teammates--and a lot of batting him in the head with a sword--he eventually went down.

Rogue Galaxy is currently scheduled for a December release in Japan, and no North American date has been mentioned yet. We'll continue to closely follow the game, so be sure to keep checking this gamespace for more news as it develops.

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