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February 8, 2002
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 Overall Score: *88*ESRB Rating: Teen (T)

Skies of Arcadia [Sega Dreamcast] 

by Sega  Reviewed by: Alex Karls  


ScreenshotOverview

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.

ScreenshotThe 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.

Graphics

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.

Audio

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.

ScreenshotBottom Line

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.

Review Posted On 5 February 2001.

 
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