For a new and unknown universe populated by foreign characters and unfamiliar places, Rogue Galaxy has enjoyed a rare weight of anticipation. Likely one of the last major JRPGs to be released for a system that has celebrated the genre in the West more than any other, it's natural for players to hope somebody thought to save the best until last. That the game follows in the glorious slipstream of developer Level 5's previous RPG triumph, Dragon Quest VIII, has only added to the burden of expectation placed upon these newly birthed shoulders.
The points of interest don't end there either: for the setting the makers have opted neither for the medieval knights and castles of yore nor the steam punk post-apocalyptic desolation of more recent fashion. Rather, interplanetary space piracy with one keen eyeball on Star Wars and the other on Jack Sparrow aims to fill the galaxy-backdropped niche recently vacated by the Xenosaga series. And, finally, the game has the unenviable distinction of being the PS2 RPG that came out after Final Fantasy XII, and as such it's likely many players (even subconsciously) will be expecting that game's new lessons in design to have been absorbed and even evolved here.
So in a sense, that the game mostly fails to meet these expectations right from the beginning is wholly understandable - even if it's no less disappointing for it. The opening scenes draw back the curtain on Jaster Rogue, the 17-year-old orphaned protagonist who lives in a prettily cel-shaded desert town, eking out a living as a beast bounty hunter on the nearby dunes. Jaster's home planet Rosa is under occupation by the Longardia Commonwealth. Soldiers stand guard supposedly against the Draxian Empire, but actually to facilitate the mining of the planet's rich resources. As these details emerge it's immediately clear the game's mythology and political climate is well-developed and mapped out with detail and coherence.