There is no doubt that Skies of Arcadia is the forgotten RPG of the noughties having originally appeared on the Dreamcast only. It was later ported to the GameCube as Skies of Arcadia: Legends with lots more added. This is the version I am reviewing…
The game takes place on floating continents in the skies of Arcadia. The planet has no surface & is orbited by 6 moons of different colour. Thousands of years before six civilisations, each existing for one of these moons, went to war & created Gigas. These giant living weapons were controlled by 6 moon crystals & caused massive destruction to the world. The most powerful of the civilisation, the Silver Civilisation used their Giga to call in the Rains of Destruction that pulled meteors out of the sky crashing down to the planet below.
It was devastating & it ended the war. The 6 civilisations stopped fighting, buried the Gigas, sealed the Silver one away & hid the moon crystals.
In present time, the tyrannical Valuan Empire, are seeking the moon crystals to awaken the Gigas & take over the world. The Valuan Empire is led by Empress Teodora & her will is imposed by her warship senior admiral, Galcian & his No.2, Ramirez. The Empires warships are feared by all throughout the land except the Blue Rogues, a band of Air Pirates.
The Air Pirates consistently clash with the Empire in battles in the air & it is during one that we are introduced to Vyse & Aika. Two young air pirates that inadvertently end up rescuing Fina, a girl from the Silver Civilisation.
It turns out that she is on a mission to find the moon stones & stop the Valuan Empire from getting their hands on them. After getting to know her & rescuing her from the Empire again Vyse & Aika agree to help her find the stones.
Along their long & difficult journey they will be joined by many other unique characters all with their own motivations; including the moody Drachma who has an unfortunate secret, Gilder the cocky air pirate & Enrique, a prince of Valua unhappy with its direction. Each of these playable characters are as interesting as the main trio with Drachma’s being incredibly deep & meaningful.
Skies of Arcadia is a traditional turn-based RPG. Gameplay is primarily made up of dungeon exploration from the 3rd-person perspective. Advancing the storyline means playing through these dungeons, defeating enemies (random encounters), collecting treasure, solving puzzles & normally defeating a boss.
The over-world is traversed by piloting an airship & the player can eventually (with upgrades) travel to any part of the land. Players can stop at many locations ranging from small towns, to major cities to deserted lands. This freedom is progressive as you advance the storyline.
Combat comes in 2 forms:
1. Ship combat…this is initiated by battling other ships or Gigas.
2. Character combat – the more traditional combat system.
Both offer new & exciting examples of turn-based combat with ship combat in particular bringing something unique to the game.
Characters level up as XP is gained from battles & equipment can be equipped as new sets are found. There is quite a lot of variety in enemy types & boss battles have an epic feel about them (especially Giga fights).
The random encounters/XP drops are pretty fair & generous & you never feel over-whelmed although you will have to level up enough to feel in control of many boss battles.
Skies of Arcadia: Legends came with a host of new stuff to set it about from the original Dreamcast release.
There are minor graphical changes but nothing too significant; most of the changes came within the gameplay. Discoveries were in the original game & info relating to them could be sold at Sailor’s Guilds around the world. 24 new ones were included in this version & act as a larger source of income for the player.
Sub-quest were added that saw you collecting invisible moonfish for a Doctor & a young girl called Maria. These moonfish are fed to her bird pet which begins to grow & helps her move past a traumatic event in her life. Another one saw Piastol, the Angel of Death, hunting air pirates while looking for Vyse. She mistakenly thinks him responsible for her parent’s death & you can fight her several times throughout the game, each time she is tougher than the last.
Another clever addition is the ‘wanted list’. A list of enemies that can be hunted down & fought in a boss battle. These characters are consistently tough as they level up as your party does.
Skies of Arcadia is no short game & you can easily sink 20-30 hours into it. The storyline is gripping with great characters throughout & while the comabt system is familiar, it is well-designed.
One of the finest RPG’s no-one ever talks about, the updated GameCube version is the version every gamer should play. Constant hope for a HD re-release or full on remake has kept the game in many a gamers thoughts.
Skies of Arcadia: Legends