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Rogue Galaxy takes shape

More details on Level 5's RPG.

With Famitsu haemorrhaging so much information this month, it's little surprise to see more juicy titbits unveiled; this time the subject is PlayStation 2 role-playing game, Rogue Galaxy.

Level 5, the studio behind Dragon Quest VIII, uncovered more details about its sci-fi based title in the Japanese publication, with a spot given to the company president and producer of Rogue Galaxy, Akihiro Hino.

The game, a colourful mixture of anime/cel-shaded 3D characters interacting through more realistic 3D backgrounds, follows the story of a 17-year-old boy called Jester Rogue. With typical sci-fi/fantasy familiarity, the young boy feels trapped on his desert planet of Rosa and wishes to engage in high adventure in space. Naturally he gets the chance when a space pirate named Dorgengore recruits him and they set off. Oh, and Jester also has a large sword strapped to his back and a mysterious birthmark on his face, which is said to be a key point in the game's storyline. You can almost see Lucas' beard peering through, cant you. Or maybe that’s E.E "Doc" Smith. Or...

Other characters in Rogue Galaxy will come from a number of races and species (including robots, and bi-pedal felines and fish), although the four main characters revealed in the game so far are all human. Joining Jester will be: Kisara, daughter of Dorgengore and 17-year-old tomboy. Luluka, the obligatory strong female bow-and-arrow-toting warrior from a forest planet called Juraika. And Zegram, the loveable pirate rogue. Can't have a space adventure without a Han. From the numerous characters encountered, Rogue Galaxy will boast a total of eight possible party members, no more than three to each real-time battle.

When a scuffle occurs, you only control one member while the other two are assumed by the computer, although you'll still give them basic orders to follow. Each fighter in your party uses two unique weapons from a total of 16, and there will also be a system similar to the materia example in Final Fantasy's VII, where items can be used to evolve new abilities for each character.

Hino divulges that they aim for Rogue Galaxy to have no loading times when exploring the numerous planets and areas of the game, which include forest worlds, mech-driven planets and sprawling urban cities in contrast to more rural environments. Although original plans were to have the RPG feature "virtually uncountable number of planets", it was later decided to reduce this aim - compensating with multiple areas in the existing worlds instead. Rogue Galaxy still remains the biggest project Hino's team has worked on, even dwarfing the mammoth Dragon Quest VIII.

Further to all this, Hino revealed there will also be mini-games; for example, the ability to catch certain creatures on one planet and use them in a game of quasi-chess – with added depth in being able to collect and level-up the creature pieces. Nods to other Sony RPG, Dark Cloud 2, will also be made in the shape of an invention system for the creation of products and items.

The rather lovely-looking Rogue Galaxy will be released in Japan this December, exclusive to PlayStation 2. Expect a Western translation for mid-2006 if we're really, really lucky.