Format reviewed: Dreamcast
Submitted by: Alex Gandolfo
Probably the best RPG on the Dream Machine, Skies of Arcadia is easily recognizable by its Air Pirates motif. What better setting for a grand, swashbuckling RPG adventure than playing a young air pirate as he saves comrades from the gallows, searches for magical apocalyptic crystals and gathers a crew and ship? When Skies of Arcadia was released, the answer was pretty clear.
The game centres around a young air pirate named Vyse and his partner Aika both of whom are part of an air pirate group called the Blue Rogues whom have taken residence with their families on a small, cave riddled, floating island. At the beginning of the game, Vyse comes across a girl named Fina who is in the clutches of a young admiral of the Valuan Navy. Vyse saves her and comes to find that she is a member of a dying civilization called the Silver civilization. She is trying to find and protect six powerful moonstones that bring life to six immensely powerful and invulnerable monsters. If these monsters are awoken, using the moonstones, they will bring the end of the world. Thus Vyse and Aika embark on a quest to find the moonstones before other, more malevolent parties do.
The gameplay is solid RPG gameplay. There are plenty of character statistics to improve, tons of ever-better armour and weapons to equip, and heaps upon heaps of random, turn-based battles. The game sees you going through dungeons,ruins and run-down cities looking for desirable items and undesirably random battles.These land based battles are,however,quite thrilling as they feature plenty of strategy and colourful visuals.The unique aspect of the game is that you also have a ship to upgrade,repair,battle in,travel in and man with a full crew of 22.This adds plenty of depth to the game but also adds plenty of fairly repetitive battles.The random air battles,with flying creatures, are annoying because of the fact that your ship is your main means of transportation as you go from place to place and search for ancient ruin topped islands and treasures.Consequently,exploration of the vast,floating landscape is bothersome,at the least.The ship-to-ship battles, while more interesting, are nonetheless repetitive due to frequent and repetitive shots of the ships flying around. If anything,the game could have been improved if random on the deck of the ship battles had been removed and the ship-to-ship battles had been,which are usually storyline driven,made more prominent.
The graphics are amongst the best the Dream Machine could imagine.The textures are very rich and smooth.The colorrs are very vibrant and properly used.The character animations are very well done and the character models themselves are superb.One thing that was a little detract was that the shadows for the characters were either non-existent or only small circles on the ground.The best thing of all is that framerate slowdown is virtually non-existent except for infrequent instances while flying in your ship.The music of the game is absolutely fantastic.The Start Screen theme alone is grand and yet touching at the same time.Many other tunes are of this same calibre or at the least,catchy.
Bottom Line: An absolutely unique and fun RPG that has its flaws but makes up for them with a memorable cast of characters and a timeless premise.