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Rogue Galaxy

When first sighted through a telescope, Rogue Galaxy looks very much like last fall's gorgeous RPG, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King at space camp. The colorful graphics showcase the same smoothly animated, cartoon-come-to-life splendor and the art style is similar. The characters may look a bit different, but they still tramp around exotic locations in ungainly garb, waving swords and immediately slaughtering without remorse any wildlife they happen to encounter.

However, right from the start, when a poncy young fellow named Jester Rogue escapes his desert planet via an intergalactic pirate ship, major differences between this and Dragon Quest appear. You have a few gymnastic abilities like jumping and clinging to ledges, and that slaughtering bit has changed. Oh, every animal, vegetable, and mineral in the galaxy still battles as if driven by a death wish, but the methods in which you send them to space-heaven are more urgent.

First off, Jester wields not only a sword, but also an assortment of firearms. Secondly, you chop, blast, jump attack and even combo your way to victory in real-time instead of patiently waiting through polite-yet-classic turn-based battles like those in Dragon Quest VIII. You won't even have to wait for battles to begin - enemies will jump you as you run around, and battle commences seamlessly. If you've ever hacked through the free-form fisticuffs of the Disney-meets-Square Enix-meets-peyote smash hit Kingdom Hearts or the Bandai-published .hack series, you get the idea.

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