“Boy, I sure would like another Level-5 RPG,” thought RPG Land’s staff, collectively, after killing every slime, mixing every alchemy recipe, and slaughtering every boss in Dragon Quest VIII. In January, we will have that new game in the form of Rogue Galaxy; Level-5’s latest, and possibly last, RPG for the PlayStation 2.

Curious to see what was going down with the game’s North American localization, RPG Land hunted down Nao Higo, Rogue Galaxy’s North American producer, and tied him up until he ponied up some details regarding the game’s English incarnation.

…or we sent some emails and stuff. I forgot which.

RPG LandWhat all did you change and update during the delay?
Nao HigoThe addition of the new planet, along with the game balance changes took the most amount of time to implement for the US version. Because the new world is not a rehash of old worlds, everything had to be made from scratch. Scenarios, maps, monsters, etc. take a lot of time to create, implement, and debug.

RPG LandName some RPGs that certain aspects of this game remind you of, in particular, and why. Help us get to know it in the familiarity sense before we “know it” in the Biblical sense.
Nao HigoNaturally, since this is the latest PS2 RPG from Level-5, Rogue Galaxy draws elements from the Dark Cloud series as well as Dragon Quest VIII. I also think that Rogue draws a lot of inspiration from old school RPGs in terms of play style, where it really rewards the player for exploring the nooks and crannies of the world. You can always take the straight path to advance the storyline, but this game really rewards you for trying different things and going on side excursions.

RPG LandDescribe the combat system, step by step. Like, when I’m at the controls, what am I going to be doing. Emphasize differences between this game and most RPGs, if you can.
Nao HigoYou control one character but have access to two allies that you control through various commands. As you progress through the game, you will have access to eight total characters, which you can switch out at any time. Of course, you can switch between the three characters at any time during battle. There is a unique suggestion system where your two allies will ask if they can perform certain attacks and you can instruct them how to engage.

The combat system isn’t so much magic focused but rather is based on an ability system. Each character has a certain set of special abilities that they can use. The combo system in this game allows the player to execute a barrage of strikes against an enemy to turn the tide of battle instantly. This system, called Burning Strike, is executed by collecting orbs that are dropped by the enemy during the course of battle. Once you gather enough orbs, you will be able to unleash the Burning Strike, a timing based combination system where you are able to chain together up to 9 strikes.

RPG LandCan the galaxies multiclass, perhaps to be rogue/wizards or rogue/fighters?
Nao HigoOnly if they have a Godly Armor of the Whale. Or was it an Archmage’s Staff of Apocalypse?

RPG LandWe’ve heard you can make your own weapons. Can you briefly outline the system and give an estimate of how many possibilities there are?
Nao HigoThere are two ways to create weapons in the game. The first is called Synthesizer Toady, which is a frog that takes two objects and combines them to create a weapon. The second is the Factory System, where you will get clues from other characters in the game on how to create an item get the raw materials, assemble a factory line, and create a custom weapon. There are more than 500 weapons in the game so depending on how players forge their weapons there will be different levels of how the weapons will perform.

RPG LandIf you could make one of those weapons yourself and wield it around the office, which would it be?
Nao HigoWell, considering that something that’ll destroy everything in its path is probably not the best thing to be wielding around, I’ll have to go with the Freeze Gun. I mean, think of all the uses—cool drinks instantly, temporarily freeze your boss, play pranks on your coworkers…

RPG LandThat flying pirate ship on the cover reminds me of Skies of Arcadia. Did you play Skies of Arcadia? Was it the dopest game ever or what?
Nao HigoYes, I’ve played Skies of Arcadia, and I thought it was a pretty good game. Dopest though? Nah. I sold my limited edition a while back.

RPG LandIt also reminds me of that music video for Michael Jackson’s “Have You Seen my Childhood?” What are your feelings on the music of the King of Pop?
Nao HigoSorry, haven’t seen that music video. The King of Pop hasn’t fizzed for a long time, has he? How many years do we wait until that title is given to someone else?

RPG LandOn the back of the case, I saw a quote, “Some secrets are better left undiscovered…” and then it trails off with that ellipsis. That sounds ominous. What is it talking about?
Nao HigoWell, that’d kinda spoil it for everyone, so let’s leave it to the players to find out!

RPG LandWho are some of your favorite voice actors from the English cast? I know you’ll want to say “oh, they all did wonderful” at first, but let’s hand out an award or special recognition here. Who had a standout performance in this game’s voice cast?
Nao HigoI’m definitely happy with the way the voices turned out, especially for the main characters. *Cringes behind a couch waiting for the volleys of tomatoes* I know there will always be the purists who are dead set on hearing the Japanese, and anything else is pure rubbish, but I hope everyone gives it a chance because we put a lot of work into the voices. I especially liked the way Simon’s voice turned out. The Japanese version had Simon speaking Kansaiben, which is a dialect in Southwest Japan. I wanted to capture the same kind of feel for the character, and we played around with various accents before settling with Greg Ellis, an English actor who really gave Simon life with his Scottish accent. He really helped out with the slang as well, which gave the character more color. My other favorites are Zegram and Jaster, played by Steve Blum and Will Friedle respectively, who are both fantastic voice actors and really got the feel of the characters.

RPG LandI’ve heard Hino-san report that good sales in the US will be the major factor in determining sequel possibilities. Tell me, what type of sales numbers and/or street cred would you be looking for with this debut title for that to happen?
Nao HigoWell, as much as we (the production staff) love making great games, in the end, it’s a huge financial investment and people need to see that the series has a chance to become big. With Level-5’s games to date have created a solid foundation of credibility among fans of the genre, and there are a lot of expectations riding on Rogue Galaxy. We’ve put in many hours of work into this title and we hope people will love it.

RPG LandFurthermore, if you had to guess, would the sequel or spinoff be appearing on PS3 or PSP, most likely? Just take a guess. Life depends on it. Seriously.
Nao HigoIf we do make a sequel, I’d like to see it on the PS3. Just think. Pirates, space, hi-def. It’d be so beautiful, it’d make a telekinetic baby doll cry in joy.

Thanks go out to Mr. Higo for taking the time out of his schedule to speak with us. Look out for RPG Land’s full review of Rogue Galaxy in January.


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