Review by XshakhanX
"Finally! A good RPG on the DC!"
Well, it's been over a year since the Dreamcast was released in North America, and we've seen only a handful of mediocre RPG's released. Games such as Evolution, Evolution 2, and Silver, which looked promising at first, failed to deliver a good role playing experience. Recently, however, Skies of Arcadia (Eternal Arcadia in Japan) hit the shelves. Perhaps a questionable release date around the same time as Yu Suzuki's Shenmue, but it was released nonetheless. Many gamers still playing Shenmue, and eagerly awaiting the December release of Grandia II may have not bothered pick this game up. It is however, a masterpiece itself.
The game takes place in a land called, you guessed it, Arcadia. The skies part of it comes from the skies that your party travels through on various air ships. The main character, Vyse, is an air pirate that belongs to a belongs to a group called the Blue Rogues. Vyse and several of his friends are initialy on a trip to discover the six moon crystals. This may sound like a very generic RPG story at first but the story improves greatly when you proceed through your quest which by the way is quite lengthy. 40 - 60 hours depending on how much you do.
Quite possibly the best graphics on the DC to date. Characters are not as detailed as those in Shenmue but have a more cartoony look to them. The World and towns are huge and you can see far into the distance. If you could describe the graphics in one word it would probably be ''colorful''. Every town has it's own feel to it and even the townspeople look just as great as Vyse. The camera when exploring gives somewhat of a Zelda 64 perspective with the behind the back view and can be easily rotated using the L and R buttons.
If there's a weak point in the game it would probably be it's story. It's at sometimes too cliched, and at points you say to yourself, ''hmm i wonder if this is going to happen.'' And then it does. On a whole it's easy to understand and has a few plot twists but does not come near the complexity in that of Xenogears or other Squaresoft games. The story is told in a fairly light hearted style with few serious parts but does get the message across without loads of over redundant jibber-jabber.
There of two types of battles in SoA. Classic, hand to hand random encounters, and strategic airship battles. The hand to hand turn-based battles are very comparable to those seen in the Final Fantasy series. A fairly simple SP system is used in which certain moves require a certain amount of SP. Every magic spell uses only 1 MP, but it may take different amounts of SP. By collecting moonberries throughout the land, or by defeating enemies you can choose special attacks, which are quite impressive and can deal some great damage. But even more impressive are the ship battles. With a turn based system you can decide when to guard, fire torpedos, cannons, use magic or use skills acquired by the 22 crew members you find around Arcadia. Your airship is like another party member in that you can equip different parts and armor, by using a Captain's Stripe you can increase the ships max HP. Very innovative and fun.
The music in the game is top notch giving each situation the right feel. There aren't many tracks that stick in your head for weeks on end but sometimes that's a good thing. Overall though musically it excels. There is little voice acting by the characters. Only when they wind up for a special attack, or are killed by an enemy do they speak. They sometimes laugh or say the odd thing out of battle, but for the most part keep quiet.
If you enjoy the traditional style RPG and are waiting for a good RPG on the DC, pick this one up. Or if you just think that playing with a group of pirates is a cool idea (like me) then you too should give it a try. SoA is another great RPG in a line up of many these next few months including Final Fantasy IX (PSX), Grandia II (DC), and Phantasy Star Online (DC). So try this one out because if ya don't you'll be left sayin ''Arrrrrgh'' :)
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/26/00, Updated 11/26/00
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