Review by Truck_1_0_1_

""Come On! Dance For Me!""

Back last year, at Game Centre (where I buy all of my games this side of eBay), Grandia II and Skies of Arcadia were both being sold for twenty dollars. I thought, "well, why not?" and purchased them, holding them off for when I had a good week or so to myself (or when school had finished for the year). The week in question has just passed, and the game I completed, was Skies. Never have I had this much fun playing a role playing game, my least favourite genre. Skies is just a brilliant game from head to toe, and it is perfect (or nearly perfect) in virtually every single element you can judge a game on. People complained about the story being cliched, or the characters being already used, etc., but really, who gives a damn? The game itself is completely fresh and new, from the battle system, to the locations, and a bunch else everywhere in between. Game play will give you a bit of insight as to how the game is indeed, fresh and new.

Game play: 9/10

Skies is very easy to get in to, and the learning curve is not steep at all. In contrast, where Panzer Dragoon Saga (the only other Sega RPG that I enjoy) was very easy to learn a complex battle system, Skies is very easy to learn a simple combat system. Though the combat is turn based, some new elements have been incorporated into the game, such as elemental stones, and their strengths weaknesses. Not anymore can someone just use magic and that's it; the magic now comes at a price, and depending on what stone it is a branch of (and the colour of the enemy), the spell can either do a ton of damage, or not very much damage at all; everything is dependant on something else. There is another form of combat in Skies; ship combat. Now, everybody went absolutely, "gaga" over the ship battles when this game first came out (and they still go nuts to this day), however I do not really see why. The battles are fun, no doubt, and it is very strategic with its, "grid command," screen, however the ship battles are just way too easy to really go nuts over (I only perished in the final ship battle {penultimate battle of the game outright}. The whole game; every other battle I cleaned house). Let's just say there are certain "doomsday-ish" weapons that allow the ship battles to end rather quickly, whereas the party battles last quite a long time, always (at least in the second part of the game), and your ships have such a large amount of hit points that if you screw up, you have numerous opportunities to correct yourself. The combat is A1 though, just as the exploration part of the game is. Exploration takes place by two different means; on foot, and on your ship. At first, you are just a crew member on your ships, and you cannot do much aside from fly and fight. However, once you are given your own ship (which is a BAD ASS ship might I add), you can acquire crew members to take up various jobs on your ship (cook, delegate, jester, a lot of positions have to be filled). Each of these characters also provides certain upgrades and benefits in battle, from spirit points, to healing ability. Your ship traverses the entire world of Arcadia, and that is your main source of transport, whereas you can only explore islands/dungeons on foot. The random encounters can take place both on-board your ship, and when walking in a dungeon (though there are a few too many random encounters on-board your ship). The standard fare of item collecting is also present, however there are many items that have uses outside of battle, such as Chams and Moonberries; it is good to see a mix-up of these items. Game play is nearly perfect, and the same can be said about the story (although it is completely perfect).

Story: 10/10

What an awesome, epic story; yes it borrows from other games, but it is a completely new story, which makes it awesome. Vyse is an adolescent Blue Rogue (read; Good pirate), who thirsts and lives for adventure. When he and his friend Aika are travelling one day (with Vyse's father's crew on the Albatross), they come across a royal Valuan (read; Evil entitiy) carrier (I think its a carrier anyways, its too big to be a battleship...) that is firing on a much smaller, and defenseless craft. There is a young woman on-board, and she is captured by the carrier once her ship is disposed of. After boarding the Valuan craft, the Blue Rogues attack and defeat the Valuans, and they take the young woman into their "custody." The young woman reveals herself as Fina, a Silverite (read; mythological supreme-ish beings, even though Fina is a normal girl) who has been sent to Arcadia on a special mission. The rest of the story is played out through the entire game, and you will soon find that this is one of the best stories you will ever encounter in a video game. The world of Arcadia is fascinating, and has quite a bit of background to it. From perfect story to almost perfect graphics.

Graphics: 9/10

Beautiful. Utterly beautiful, one of the Dreamcast's fifteen best games graphically, the whole world of Arcadia is just gorgeous. On foot, the towns and dungeons look great; highly detailed, rich, vibrant, they look superb. Flying in the air, the world looks amazing, highly realistic, and highly detailed. Even the islands placed in the world for mere atmospheric filler, are greatly detailed, and all look different than the other. The characters and their moves are where the game truly shines graphically though. Vyse, Fina, Aika, Gilder, Drachma, Enrique, EVERY character looks different than the other, and each has their own unique sense of style, and their own unique look. The special move animations also look amazing, with 'Pirates Wrath,' and 'Gunslinger,' looking the best (Gunslinger is one of the greatest moves I have seen in any game; I LOVE it). The ships also look amazing. Aside from the battleships of the Valuan Navy (which all look alike, for obvious reasons), every ship looks highly unique, being made of different materials, colours, shapes, etc., every ship looks great and unique. The graphics are just below perfect, though the same cannot be said about the sounds.

Sounds: 10/10

One of the most bomb soundtracks I've ever heard, every piece is composed amazingly, and performed outstandingly. The 'Skies of Arcadia Symphony Orchestra' is responsible for providing the music for this game, and they did a phenomenal job. Every piece suits the game just great, be it climactic or anti-climactic. In one area of the game, you are stranded on a deserted island, and the music sets the tone for the island; it just fits so well, words cannot describe it (read; play the game, and you will see). The sound effects are also superb, and the ones that are played constantly never get annoying or redundant. The characters speak, albeit only one or two words at a time, or comment on the battle once it has been won. Other than that, no voices are present (all of the dialogue is in text form anyways). The sounds are perfect, on to replay.

Replay ability: 10/10

At its quickest, Skies will run you 40 hours worth of game play. That's A TON of time to play a game. However, if you carefully go through the entire game, try to get every crew member, all of the necessary upgrades, etc., you can easily spend around 70 hours or so on this game, there is THAT much to do. I finished it in 48 hours, and I did quite a bit (there are a lot more side-quests and the like in the inferior Gamecube port of the game), though I did not do EVERYTHING that can be done in this game.

Buy or rent?

If you can rent this, just pass and buy it. Between the time you must invest to the amount of awesome this game is, all signs point to BUY.

What can I say? I got hooked on this game from the beginning, and could not put it down until I finished. One night I was up until 3 am, but could not save, so I left my Dreamcast on and continued 6 hours later; THAT is a game that draws you in. It drew me in as well for another reason; the Sega "charm." I previously touched upon this in my Panzer Dragoon Saga review, in that some Sega games have a certain, "je ne sais quois," about them, and I call it the Sega charm. Another thing this game did for me is that it re-opened my mind to the world of role playing games; Final Fantasy made me absolutely HATE the genre (personally, the majority of those FF games are pieces of tripe), however Skies has made me reconsider my stance on the turn based RPG; if they are all like Skies, why should I not give them a chance? Maybe Skies really is a cut above the rest, and maybe that is the reason why I am enamoured by it. One thing is for sure though; its one of the best games in the Dreamcast library, it is one of the best games in Sega's history, and its one of the greatest RPG's of all-time. "Uhhh... Not again, Maria... Let me sleep a little longer..."

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 06/01/10, Updated 06/18/10

Game Release: Skies of Arcadia (US, 11/13/00)

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