Review by JGuarneri
"A must-have for the RPG-starved Dreamcast owner!"
After a 14 month wait and lots of hype, Skies of Arcadia finally hit our shores last November. Skies of Arcadia takes place in a world above the clouds where Air Pirates sail and an Evil Empire rules. You take on the role of Vyse as he tries to help a strange young woman in her quest which will take Vyse and his fiends across the skies. This game involves deep exploration, an amusing and lovable cast of characters, and an interesting story, as well as a system for managing a crew for the ships you get throughout the game. This game has plenty of new innovations in combat as well, such as the Spirit Gauge for use in special attacks, and a magic system like the Esper system used in Final Fantasy III and VI.
This game showcases some breathtaking graphics, with excellent effects shown in flight, in towns, and in the dungeons. The characters have interesting (if not a little strange) designs, and the spells have relatively good animations. The weapons look cool as well, and they change color as you add new ''Moon Stones'' to your weapons.
The gameplay in Skies of Arcadia is top-notch. The battles have various elements such as occasional counters occuring and the Spirit Guage, which is used to power both spells and special attacks and can be refilled during combat. New magic can be learned by attaching ''Moon Stones'' to your weapons. Also, the weapons will change color and take on the property of that ''Moon Stone,'' which adds a stategic element to the placement of ''Moon Stones'' on weapons tp maximaize effectiveness against enemies.
The game also involves lots of exploration, and making new discoveries can pay off as you can sell the information at any Sailor's Guild across the Arcadian skies. Also, one of the characters uses a certain creature as a weapon that you can find ''Cham'' for to feed it and allow it to do more damage in combat. Since VMU's will give a lot of signs as to when you're near a Cham, it's a good idea to buy one if you only have a regular memory card. The dungeons offer lots of treasure if explored thoroughly enough, and you can customize you crew once you get your own ship.
Most of the in battle sound effects are good, but the voice acting can get a little bad at times. There isn't much speaking, mostly just grunts and ''uh-huh'''s during dialogue sequences, but other than that it's okay. This music is excellent, and fits the game very well.
In an RPG, control can't get very bad, so it isn't hard what to predict what this game offers control-wise.
Overall Score: 9.5/10.0
I would say that this game is a definite must-buy for any RPG fan with a Dreamcast, and, while it has its flaws, is a potential classic that has a future as a series if it can be continued correctly.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/10/01, Updated 01/10/01
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