Ahhh! where the hell’s the ground gone!?
Once in a while there’s an RPG that I feel compelled to play again and commit another 40 to 60 hours playing through, and I’m sure there are people out there who know what type of games I’m talking about. Games that are fresh and unique and that have an enthusiasm that is rarely found in the Adventure/RPG genre. Skies of Arcadia is one that makes it on that list for me.
Skies of Arcadia is set in a sky world created by moon stone meteor showers that pummelled the world of Arcadia in ages past. The moon stones power then lifted the land into the sky, creating the skyworld of Arcadia. The moon stones can be harvested and utilized by man to summon lightning and tiny icicles that are really sore if they poke you in the eye, I meanů ouch. But there are moon stones that can control goliaths called Gigas that were created by the elders which, if summoned could ravage the land, which is what the pirate clan Blue Rogues and Vyse are out to stop happening.
Vyse is part of the Blue Rogues, a Pirate clan captained by his father. The game starts with Vyse and his feisty companion Aika hijacking a Valuan empire ship for some knock-off DVD’s or something, I don’t know, plunging you straight into the action from the off. The graphics are beautifully smooth with great looking textures and considering I played this on the Gamecube with practically a carbon copy of the Dreamcast graphics, they hold up extremely well even in comparison with graphics of the Wii, which admittedly let the current generation down on the graphics front. The world itself is huge without any loading or frame drop and a full 360 camera view which can be clumsy at certain points in the game where there are a lot of walls.
This game always makes me feel like a kid when I’m playing it
The fighting is standard turn-based combat utilizing the usual customization of equipment and special moves, etc. The weapons themselves are one of 6 colours, referring to the elemental properties of the weapon and which element will gain experience and attain new spells for that element. Another stand out feature of this game is the ship battles which are extremely addictive and play a huge role in the game and are not an intermittent gimmick as I first thought after my first ship battle. The graphics and attention to detail really shone through here. The camera really comes into play as well and explains why in ship battle turns are taken in groups of four. The developers wanted the ship battles to flow on a cinematic level as well as be fun to play, which would have been spoiled by constant action choices every turn.
This game always makes me feel like a kid when I’m playing it, with pirates, pirate ships and huge ship battles with the evil Valuan Empire, and of course a really super mega ultra cool base to put my ship so it doesn’t get rained on. Fighting tends to get a bit repetitive and annoying, I’ve actually heard from my friend who played it on the Dreamcast that the fights were a lot more frequent and annoying and would appear very often so the Gamecube version is recommended. Side quests are pretty fun as well and involve a wanted list with ten most wanted pirates which you have to defeat to collect the bounty for and numerous other fun little side quests.
The music itself is very nice and nothing that you probably haven’t heard in some children’s film – excluding battle music of course which is some of the best battle music I’ve heard in any game – but it’s the fact that it fits so well with the game and gives the game its charisma and charm that will endear you to play this game through to the end.
Every game, of course is not without its flaws and Skies of Arcadia is no different. Character dialogue is limited to grunts and sighs during execution of special moves during battles. You do get used to it and ignore it eventually and you can also skip special move animations which is handy at about the 415th time of execution. Camera movement is obstructed by walls and obstacles and can be problematic.
Skies of Arcadia is a classic and a must buy for anyone owning a Gamecube or Dreamcast – Gamecube version is recommended.
The Bad: Fights become annoyingly too frequent; Minimal dull voice acting;