Skies Of Arcadia
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|9.3/10, based on 3 reviews
|9.7/10 - 6 votes
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|RPGs, Steampunk Games
What an incredible, incredible RPG. I haven't had this much fun playing a role-playing game in years, and Arcadia has quickly become one of my favorite Dreamcast releases. The strange thing is, at least as of a few days ago. I wasn't even really looking forward to Skies of Arcadia; all that was on my mind was Grandia II and Phantasy Star Online, but now I'll be very surprised if either of these games comes even close to delivering an experience as grand as the one found here. The story in Arcadia is amazing, not to mention insanely long (there's a very good reason why this game comes on two CDs, and no, it's not because of CG movies), the characters are full of life, and the graphics, while plain in some areas, are simply breathtaking in others. But the reason I love this game so much is because Arcadia is a real, true-to-goodness traditional RPG filled with all the classic traits that make these games great, but still featuring enough new aspects to give it a very unique feel. You'll have to use high amounts of strategy in the battles (you have to balance your spirit bar to unleash special attacks) and it's cool how you have full control of which spell classes you'd like to excel in. There are a few small problems though: Attacks come frequently during some areas, and the story line pacing is a little slow during a couple of parts, but it doesn't diminish the fact that Arcadia is an epic RPG, one that shouldn't be missed.
Not since Panzer Dragoon Saga has Sega hosted such an engaging RPG on one of its platforms. Combining some of the best features from old and new game influences, SoA even outshines some of Square's best efforts at times. Although turn-based, the battle system keeps the game's flow going with idle animations for party members, and quick but gorgeous spells and special attacks. The battles are well-balanced, the characters are very endearing, and the story elements exciting. The diverse musical score, while not phenomenal, keeps you from wanting to kill the volume after five minutes--a big plus. SoA's truly a must-have for RPG gamers.
Easily the best-looking RPG yet (believe me, get to disc two). Skies of Arcadia lives up to the hype that its Phantasy Star lineage provides. A unique battle-system, a tight-knit group of characters, a wonderful story line, great spell-effects, lots of secrets to find, an epic, melodramatic quest, and the best airborne battles since Panzer Dragoon Saga, Skies of Arcadia is one of the best RPGs ever. Once you obtain your own ship, start acquiring a crew, and customize the bejeezus out of your island base, the game gets even cooler. While it's not expected for any RPG to reach the heights set by Final Fantasy, Skies is as good as any RPG you'll find. Get it.
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What's the deal?
To hear veteran Sega game designer Reiko Kodama (she worked on Phantasy Star) describe Skies of Arcadia, this is the traditional RPG that Dreamcast owners have been craving. The game's enormous world and fully customizable airships (you even pick the crew) have us gearing up for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-style high adventure. "It's set in an age of exploration," Kodama told us. "You can spend time in each area and explore it to the nth degree."
So why is it a must-get game?
This looks like it's gonna be something extra-special from the Phantasy Star team. And Skies'll definitely keep you in RPG heaven until Grandia II.
Join Vyse and the Blue Rogues for high adventure and excitement on the open... clouds? Airships, magic, and a fierce little creature called Cupil combine to create this odd, lighthearted adventure. Enigmatically thrown into the thick of a mysterious plot, Vyse, leader of the Blue Rogues, and his friend Aika rescue the young girl Fina from a dastardly end at the hands of Alfonso, the foppish leader of a wicked kingdom. As the characters adventure through worlds many and mysterious, you will uncover a plot to reawaken the Gigas, powerful weapons linked to the Arcadia’s ancient past. Take to the skies as a daring air pirate, ready to challenge the might of an empire and save the planet!
Skies of Arcadia, as you can imagine from its description, is a grand fantasy RPG with a light hearted and fun attitude. As noble anti-heroes, your characters face peril, win treasure, and generally manage to save the world, all while ignoring RPG staples like death, tragedy, and angst.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
As with most traditional roleplaying games, Skies of Arcadia provides a turn-based combat system with simple point-click-attack style commands. Movement is handled automatically by the game and can be quite amusing as the characters dance around one another, looking for that one really good hit on the enemy. Each character is armed with a unique style of weapon, ranging from the cutlass and knife combo that Vyse uses to the living Cupil creature wielded by Fina.
Magic is also handled in a way similar to most games in this genre with each character having a repertoire of spells at his disposal, fueled by magical energy. Depending on your character and his statistics, your spells will have different strengths and effects. Also, your characters have special attacks that mimic magic spells or items, like Aika’s Sacri Special which works like the Sacri Crystal, a special healing item.
The largest difference in gameplay as compared to other RPGs is the heavy amount of ship-to-ship combat. Being a story mainly about pirates, heroes, and the villains that try to stop them, combined with a world where everyone has airships, a fair amount of sky combat is to be expected. You’ve got a host of ships, weapons, and even crew at your disposal, and the combination of these is what ultimately determines your battles. As a disappointing side note, the random fight encounters in Skies of Arcadia occur far too frequently and the repetitive, conventional nature of these fights only highlights this problem. If the combat engine weren’t so traditional, the sheer amount of these encounters might be enjoyable.
RPGs have always shined on console systems and this one is no different. Well-crafted, colorful environments make this a treat for the eyes and ensure that the new discoveries will be anything but boring. The world is immense and the quality to which it is envisioned is amazing. If you play the game to the point that you are ready to beat it, you’ll likely find that it is even larger and more harrowing that you’d ever imagined.
In between fights, you control the characters in a third person 3D view, allowing you to move and interact with the large, detailed environments created by the Dreamcast. These environments are probably the most impressive aspect of the game, with luscious, detailed backgrounds and complex, beautiful architecture. They’ve even gone to the trouble of creating a Star Wars style opening sequence, where you see a large imperial warship bearing down on Fina’s personal airship.
Although the soundtrack is quite good, you’ll probably be put off by the catch phrases the characters tend to shout during battles. They sounded to me as if they were recorded in very cheap 8bit 22hz format. Trust me, when you’ve heard Vyse shout the same thing over and over in a hundred battles, you’ll be looking for an off switch for his voice.
Skies of Arcadia is an excellent RPG with only a few things standing between it and becoming an instant classic. First, as RPG’s go, its gameplay is nothing to write home about. Traditional and somewhat boring even by modern standards, this is the foremost thing holding Skies of Arcadia from being an outstanding title. That, combined with repetitive gameplay and a seeming lack of quality on the part of the voice acting, knocks this title down just enough to only qualify it for the ‘really good’ label.