So, youve been starving for an
RPG release (at least a semi-decent one) for the Dreamcast. Youve despised Silver.
Youve dealt with EGG. You were OK with Evolution. Finally, I must say, a semi (yep)
decent one has hit the scene; granted, there are now a few more titles out there from
which you can select, but, really, Skies of Arcadia was the first truly, decent title for
the DC and its probably well worth a gander... Or maybe Ive been so starved
for a DC RPG Im trying to convince myself that theres something, anything
there. Lets decide.
Now, Im sure all of you out there know of the Zelda series
(about as famous, if not more, than the Final Fantasy epic) and are familiar with at least
some of its key features, namely the structure of its quests. Mind you I really
havent played Majoras Mask or Ocarina of Time, but what we have here in Skies
of Arcadia is what I refer to as the Zelda-complex except instead of one, key character
(Link) we have a couple key characters (Vyse, Aika) who follow along that ol linear
path of search out X amount of temples and acquire X item from each. Before the floating
islands of Arcadia and the people who now inhabit the lands, there was an earlier, more
advanced generation known as the Great Elders who created the massive weapons of
destruction called Gigas which man has re-discovered and now searches for. To stop the
destruction of the Gigas, moonstones mysteriously rained from each of the six moons to
bring the Rapture down upon Arcadia. These moonstones produced the floating islands and
give power to the airships throughout the game. Now, you see these Gigas are powered by
different colored stones, one for each moon, which have been scattered across the lands,
hidden deep within temples, dungeons, caves, etc. The handsome Vyse and his sprite of a
friend Aika must discover and retrieve each of these moonstones to save man from
themselves. This is the Zelda-complex.
If there is
one thing this game excels at, it is the consistently great graphics. Bright colors.
Excellent textures which span various terrain such as jungle, desert, water. Again,
Im pleased to see that the fog and lighting effects available on the DC are being
used: we have drifting embers from flowing lava, thick and thin fog, smoke, etc., to build
a complete world and environment. I was immersed by the graphics. Your characters are
colorfully painted and their facial expressions are the best Ive seen on any system.
Along with the limited amount of voice acting, you are able to tell the mood, the
excitement, the fear of your characters simply by their faces. Its great to see well
rounded characters in a video game.
Arcadia is built around two methods of combat: ground combat against various monsters and
ship to ship battles that introduce an aspect of turn-based strategy to the game. The
latter of the two can take place both randomly (though rare) or to move the storyline
along. Also, you can expect to battle a few Gigas here and there in your ship. And much
like your characters, youre able to shop around and upgrade your vessel to scale to
the type of enemies youll be expected to challenge and face. As for the ground
combat, this is your standard turn-based, though very fast, system. Youre able to
learn special moves which you can use depending on how many points you have left. You also
have the aspect of increasingly powerful and beautiful magic spells. Granted, the enemies
are not like the crazy ones you find in FF, but theyre still entertaining and
clever; each area you go to has its own, uniquely catered enemies that seem to work well
with the color and content of the scene youre in. Excellent meshing, in my opinion.
another cool quality of this game is it offers a game for your VMU, Pinta Quest. Now, the
games pretty basic: you fly around in an airship and explore different areas.
Occasionally, youll find items, fight strong headwinds, or battle another
shipall of which will increase your coffers of gold and your item list when you
insert the VMU and import the data to your game. Pinta Quest allows you to take the
adventure with you and collect items, both special and standard, in the lands you
discover. It comes in real handy when youve forgotten to stock up on some stuff and
are in a section of the game where you have literally no items and you really, really need
them to get through a boss or some such thing. Great for stuff like that. Trust me on that
in the code a mistake was made. I dont know if it was done on purpose (probably) or
by accident (unlikely), but the occurrence of random encounters was maddening. Oh man,
there are sections of this game that you dread to go through again. Not because
theyre difficult in any way, but that every inch you move you are attacked by
creatures. Hey, Im cool with random encounters. One of my favorite series (Final
Fantasy) uses them, but its one thing to throw a monster at your party every now and
then and its another to hinder the whole quest. There were points in the game I
actually lost track of where I was going because I was stuck in battle most of the time.
It is for this reason and this reason alone I had to give the damn thing four stars. I
became too annoyed to move from point A to point B. For me this was a serious detraction
for the game.
than that I have nothing bad to say about this title. Its a great entry into what I
hope will be a long and steady wave of good RPGs on the Dreamcast. Also, Skies of Arcadia
gives breaks from the more serious RPG and gives a fun game to play that seems more like a
cartoon than something youd find in the fantasy section at the supermarket. If I
were you, Id add this to your RPG catalog and play through it at least once. Replay
value aint too great, but, hey, its an RPG.