Review by Lagunathemoron

"Skies of Clichés more like!"

I have heard many great things about Skies of Arcadia, like ''The Dreamcasts best moment'' or ''The Best RPG made''. These people haven't heard much of the Chrono or Final Fantasy in my opinion (Sorry, I have no intention of offending) because Overworks has borrowed a lot of Final Fantasy elements, plus elements from other great games like the Suikoden Series or Chrono etc. Skies of Arcadia is made by Phantasy Star Online creators, which is supposed to be another hit Dreamcast RPG. Grandia 2, the only ''smash'' RPG for Dreamcast not to be done by Overworks plays a better role of trying to be the best RPG for Dreamcast. Just about everything in Skies of Arcadia is guessable.

Done This, Saw That
Like I said, Skies of Arcadia borrows a lot of elements from other RPG's, but these elements I am going on about is nothing like Fire spells and a blond villain with a white uniform, I am on about the story. You see, Skies of Arcadia starts off with a young pirate called Vyse and his friend, Aika (Yes, She is female), Both are attacking guards on an enemy ship, We learn that both Aika and Vyse are Blue Rouges, Which are ''Good Pirates'' (Treat these as the next Robin Hood). Dyne, Vyse's father orders both Vyse and Aika in to the ship. The ship has kidnapped a blond (yes..) girl who has a white gown (yes...) who has a crest on her forehead (yes...) who is quiet (yes...) and Mysterious (ARGH!!!). At this point, I got a little bit mad, as I can't get away from RPG's which has a weak, mysterious girl who keeps fainting and getting kidnapped. Anyway, Vyse and Aika storm the ship, and one of the Admirals, Alfonso meets Vyse and Aika (Alfonso is one of the many villains, he is the one with blond hair) and does a runner. After storming the ship, Vyse and Aika end up saving the mysterious girl whose name is ''Fina''. The story carries on from there...

That is how the story starts off, but a lot more is guessable, you can just guess what is going to happen next, no forget ''Guess'', if you have watched many Anime and played a lot of other RPG's, you ''Know'' what is going to happen next. At a point in the game, which is a bit early, your characters are about to die (Oh Dear) and someone comes out of no where and saves them. It acts like this, ''Hello, My name is Ralph, I don't have a clue what I am meant to do in Skies of Arcadia, but I saved you anyway, I will go with you and save the world!''. Come on Overworks, think of something original. Also, Like any other game you are sent to gather a certain amount of objects from temples and what not, and there is Guardians in the shrine, which are supposed to do your job, save the world, so why they end up fighting you is beyond me.

Near the start of Skies of Arcadia, Vyse and Aika want to go to Shrine Island, ''No No No'' I shouted when I heard about the Shrine for the first time in the game, I began saying to myself ''I hate shrines and temples, their in just about every game I play, They are long, Confusing, hard, and a boss which just kicks your butt!''. Anyway, I have to give Skies of Arcadia some credit here, as Shrine Island is a bit fun, and isn't like anything I expected. Good Show!

Towards the end of the game, Some of the Clichés do stop, Leaving the gamer in shock sometimes. I think the story does get better within the last five hours of the game, as it lies low of Clichés and is high on excitement. Although, It get's rather sad that the end of the ending is like that of another famous RPG.

I can see my house from here!

Skies of Arcadia's world map is HUGE!, It is bigger then any of the Final Fantasy games, in fact, just about every game. You do not spend any time at all on foot on the world map, You go around in an airship. These Airships are usually the run of the mill airships. Although the airships get you from A to B in a reasonable speed, you do encounter random encounters. I don't mind random encounters, as they are the main aspect of a hardcore RPG, but the thing I do not like is when you are trying to explore Skies of Arcadias beautiful world, You are warped in to a long battle, and then you forget what you are looking for. Every now and again, Your ship will encounter either a enemy pirate ship or a boss, you will begin fighting in your airship, like you fire cannons, use repair kits etc. Also, What spoils a bit of Skies of Arcadia is reefs, these reefs are like a massive wall of rocks or strong winds, which is impossible to get by without the necessarily equipment, but these can prevent you from getting lost and running in to strong enemies, but on the other hand, it ruins the whole exploration thing.

Hidden in Skies of Arcadia are discoveries, There is a large amount to be discovered. If you find something strange or a island in the middle of no where, then press the ''A'' button and you might have discovered something big! Discoveries are sometimes hard to find, some are easy. Once you have discovered something, It is recommended you hurry to a port town, and find the Sailors Guild so you can sell you're discovery for a lot of money. If you take long reporting a discovery or even finding it, You're rival, Domingo may have already found it.

Haven't I heard you somewhere before?

The Music in Skies of Arcadia is just about good, but in some places, it does sound a bit like other RPG's. The boss music does sound like Final Fantasy VII's boss music. When it does have its ''own'' music, Skies of Arcadia puts on some very rubbish music. It has wodden sound effects. Two of the characters sound much like two other anime and video game characters. Drachma, an old, stubborn man sounds like Haggis McHutton from The Curse of Monkey Island. Aika, sounds like Misty from Pokemon, but that is not all, she looks like her as well!

The Graphics and a warning.

What bothers me, Is the amount of selfishness at Overworks end. I own the United Kingdom version of Skies of Arcadia, and no where on the box, front nor back, there is no warning. The warning you ask? Well as soon as you put the C.D in to your Dreamcast and hit Power, you get a serious notice about special lightning effects, which could lead some people to dizzy spells or seizures, so you only learn about this if you buy the game, which is not fair, Overworks could of at least put a warning at the back of the box. I don't know if there is a warning on the box in other countries, but that remains to be seen.

Skies of Arcadia is one of the Dreamcast's graphical wonders, according to many people at least. It has graphics which could be done on the Playstation 1. Its huge world is done in good detail, and the towns and dungeons also have fairly good detail. There is no FMV's in the game as far as I know, but there is Real-Time cut-scenes, which are easily mistaken for FMV's. The sub-area's are detailed, Like I said, But it is not as detailed as Shenmue. If you look all over, You can findsome cameo's, like one of the Merchant's in the game has a striking resemblence to King Kai from Dragon Ball Z. Also, In one town if you look on a wanted poster, You can spot Vyse's face. That is how much detail it is.

''The easy to learn battle system should be used in other games''

The battle system in Skies of Arcadia is a mix of almost everything, but it does have a few features of all. Thankfully, it has not borrowed Squares precious ''ATB'' (Active Time Bar), So you enter your party's battle commands before any of them start fighting. To learn Magic, your characters can change the color of their weapons, for example if Vyse has a red sword, his weapon will be fire base, and if Aika has a purple boomerang, which is ice elemental, at the end of the battle, both Aika and Vyse will gain magic points to learn new spells for both fire and ice, which saves a lot of time. Also, something I have not seen in another game is the spirit bar at the top of the screen. Characters earn spirit points by defending, attacking, using an item or focusing, if a character uses a special attack or a magic spell, some spirit points are taken away. You see, the entire party uses the same pool of spirit points, and when you have enough points, you can cast more magic spells or use a special attack. That system does remind you of some other games like Evolution, but it is very different.

Not the Hardest Game ever, but may prove a little challenging

Skies of Arcadia has a medium difficulty overall. If you have played Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV Easy type or Final Fantasy VIII, You didn't really need to level up, You just levelled upas you went along without getting K.O'd by some huge boss at the end of a dungeon, Skies of Arcadia is no different, I only found myself leveling up once, and That was to learn the last couple of spells. I would give Skies of Arcadia a Medium difficulty, Moving on to small high, As Ship Battle's are challenging in places.

Decisions Decisions...

Like every other RPG which comes down the road, now and again you have decisions to make, some are nonsense, but may get you something, these are decisions for things lime ''Do you want to play Hide and Seek?''. Other decisions are vital to your quest, like ''Should we storm the castle or sneak in''. If you choose the more heroic or sensible, you may hear a ''Ting!''. This Ting is the noise, indicating you've made the right decision. When you have made enough right decisions, Vyse's Swashbuckler rating will go up, he could be a highly respected person, or a brilliant ranked, making a complete mess of yourself will result in to a very poor rank. Your rating is very important, as people may treat you different, They may give you better infomation, Or become a useful ally in the future.

Ship Battles!!!

When just about anyone look's at pictures of the Ship Battle's, they think it is free-time battles. Ship Battle's are not action-based, They are strictly tctical and RPG. You have a grid dpending on the number of characters, like if you have Three characters, You will have a 3X6 grid, if you have 4 character's, It will be 4X8. The four or three squares going down the side is you're character's, One at a time you choose command's like Attack, Special Attack, magic, Run, Focus, Item or Defend and put them in one of three or four squares. You maybe wondering what the other three or four square's are used for, They tell you what is going on in the next time.

The decision system also take's place in here. You will be given a choice like ''Swing behind the enemy'' or ''Stay on current course''. At this point, you need to think. If the other ship has a powerful spike on the back, It isn't best to swing behind.

Pinta Quest

There is a (Not so) interesting Mini Game in Skies of Arcadia, which works with Sega's very own VMU memory card. In a town, a young boy called Pinta has a dream of finding all the worlds treasure, and Vyse has a dream of exploring the world, so Pinta makes a deal. If Vyse can find new lands, Pinta can find items in the new lands and let Vyse have them. It is a good idea, but has been done similar before, in Final Fantasy VIII's Chocobo World.

Sky High!

- A Huge world to explore.
- A VMU Mini-Game
- 2 discs. but who cares?

Arcadia's Crud Bucket!

- Borrows way to much from other RPG's.
- Annoying random battles when your trying to explore in your airship.
- Decision ranking is fun. for about 2 minutes
- Not entertaining
- VMU game is rubbish
- Just about everything is predictable.
- Friendly Pirates just aren't popular these days, Unless your Guybrush Threepwood.

Summary :

Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 4/10
Music - 4/10
Gameplay - 6/10
Storyy - 1/10
Challenge - 3/10
Enjoyment - 4/10
Lifespan - 5/10
Overall - 3/10

Alternatives : Grandia II

Reviewer's Rating:   1.5 - Bad

Originally Posted: 08/19/01, Updated 12/26/01

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