Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rogue Galaxy - Demo Disc

When I got my Playstation 2, I registered it online and signed up for the Playstation Underground and Gamers Advisory Panel. I really had no idea what that entailed except that it gave me the chance to get free stuff. Sometimes that free stuff includes demo discs and that is how I got my hands on the Rogue Galaxy demo disc.

I hadn't heard much about Rogue Galaxy before this. I knew that it was an RPG developed by Level 5. And the only thing I knew about Level 5 is that they make beautiful games (I had seen Dark Cloud 2 before and played Dragon Quest VIII). I also knew that the game features pirates... in space! And the demo came with a poster! And a pirate flag!

All of that was still not enough to get me to check out the demo. Unless I am incredibly hyped for a game, I'll just wait until it is released, check out some reviews, and then decide whether to pick it up. So, what got me off my butt to play the demo? An e-mail from Sony saying that they were giving away 10 copies of the game to people who played and reviewed the demo. A free game, is definitely enough to get me to play.

Most demos typically show you a piece of the game. They'll let you play one level or a portion of a level. This also seemed to be what Rogue Galaxy did. Upon booting up the disc and seeing some beautiful images that Level 5 is known for, I was given a choice of two scenarios to play. Either I could explore the village and the woods around it. Or I could fight the forest beast.

I picked the first one (exploring the village) first and it began loading. I was a bit nervous that I had no clue what the controls were. No instructions were included with the demo. A screen did pop up with a controller and labels for all the buttons saying what they did, so I hastily attempted to memorize eight different functions and promptly failed. Still, I figured, once the game loaded there would be some sort of tutorial telling me when I should press the buttons.

So the game loads and I see my characters and I begin walking around. I run up to the guys standing in front of the village gate. There is no clue for what button i press to talk to him, so I try X because that is usually the default button. I continue exploring the town and find some items in treasure chests. At one point I get an earring so I decide to see if I can equip it. I go into the menus and fiddle with them for awhile and then... the screen fades to black. I get a message thanking me for playing the Rogue Galaxy demo and to look for the retail version in January, 2007.

So wait, the demo is timed? I mean, the demo obviously isn't the full game. They limit where you go and I doubt I could ever get off the planet. Supposedly I'm supposed to be looking for two people so logically the scenario would end when I find them or some other story-triggered event happens. But no, I don't even get to do that. Instead after some amount of time (twenty minutes, maybe?) I get booted off.

So I try again, this time not bothering with the village and just going to look for the two people I'm supposed to find. I exit the village along a path and am eventually met by some monsters. My party enters combat and I still have received no clue as to what the right buttons to press are. I remember from the loading screen that X is primary attack and square is secondary attack so I try those a couple times. By mashing the buttons, I managed to defeat the enemies (the party members I don't control probably do most of the work). I continue on the path and fight more enemies, still pretty-much button mashing. I get to a waterfall which I think is where I'm supposed to go. I swim around, can't find anything and then am booted back to the main screen again.

Third time, go through the village a different way, take some different paths, and come upon a crashed ship that triggers a cut scene. "Ah, this is what I was looking for... maybe" I think to myself. Then the cut scene ends... or does it? It seems kind of abrupt. Regardless, I am booted back to the main title screen again.

Deciding to give that up and just fight the big enemy, I choose the second scenario this time. I head to the middle of the arena and figure out that I am supposed to use the cursed mask there. I do and this big rhinocerous-looking beast appears. The big fight begins in earnest and the character I'm controlling promptly gets shellacked. The other two party members fight, but I can only control that guy, so I go to the menu and use a revive potion on him. This time, I am a lot more careful to avoid the rhino. I still pretty much only know to jump in and hit. Every so often another character asks what they should do and I tell them to use a special attack. These are graphically impressive and do a lot more damage than my pathetic attempts to hack at the beast. I then realize that my character probably also has a special attack and spend a couple minutes playing with the menus figuring out how to do it. I eventually do and the battle resumes. I think I've figured out a good pattern to beat the rhinocerous... and I get booted back to the main screen again.

Now, I like the concept of space pirates. I'm sure the battle system is fairly deep, but I have no clue how to use it. I'm sure there are all sorts of interesting things to explore and try, but there is a time limit. I just don't feel I'm able to properly review the game part of this demo. The demo as an experience I can review to say it sucks. But the game? Seem okay, I guess I'll just wait for it to come out and read the reviews...

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