Review by Juub005
"This game is a true adventure in so many ways."
You absolutely cannot judge this game until you beat it. I'll get to that later. But, anyways, I'm gonna start with the story.
Story- Although you do have to save the world, the real mission in this game is to be the greatest explorer that ever lived, basically. You sail the skies as an air pirate, but of course, you're the Robin Hood kind of pirate, one of the Blue Rogues. The blue rogues take from the rich and give to the poor, and stop evil, etc. The main character is Vyse, a teenager who wants to explore and sail around the world. Your friends Aika and Fina join you in your quest, which is sure to be long, because there's so much to discover. What you're supposed to help Fina do is get Moon Crystals to stop the Valuan Empire from using them to summon the Gigas, which are very dangerous monsters of destruction. So, you go through caves, dungeons, ancient cities, and mountains to find them. And there's plenty more to this story.
Graphics- I wasn't ''wowed'' by all of the visuals, but there are some very pretty spots in this game. In those spots, the game is very, very beautiful. There's no glitches that I remember, no eyesores, no bad things related to visuals.
Music- Great use of instruments. It's not as good as Grandia II's music in my opinion, but it still is very good music. The best way to describe Skies of Arcadia's music is majestic, and beautifully so. Great orchestra-like sound from the game is all over the place. It just sweeps you into the game perfectly. Only bad thing about it is that battles occur so often that battle music does get annoying. The neat thing about it is that the music against a boss goes from minor to major when you are winning. (the boss's health is low) I haven't played through any of the Final Fantasies so I don't know if this is new or not. Sorry.
Gameplay- The game changes a lot. This is why I said you cannot judge this game correctly without beating it. I should probably start with battles. In a battle, you choose the commands for each character and then you watch it all play out. No Grandia II live battle-type action. Of course, the characters with the highest speed will go first in carrying out the actions. Another thing is, any shields or counterstrikes or moves like Spirit Charge that will only benefit you if you use it before the other side attacks will automatically go first. Crystals that heal do not always go before the enemy strikes, I don't think. And of course you have your magic, special effects, and all kinds of super moves. And, you have a spirit meter used for magic and super moves. You get a certain amount of points when you start the battle, and as the battle goes on, you regain these points that you lose when you use them for super moves and magic. You regain more depending on how many characters are still standing and how much experience you have. Your weapons have colors. Change the colors to be stronger against an enemy of a certain color (you can see an FAQ for this, it doesn't actually say in the game). These battles happen on land and on the airship when you are traveling around. They are random, and they certainly occur way too often in some places. Of course, these are just regular battles. But then you have ship battles.
In my opinion, these aren't as fun as regular battles, although they are deeper. You have cannons, which are essentially the same as super moves. And you have magic. Later on in your game, you'll have your crew. I love managing the crew. The crew members are everywhere to find. It's hard to find them all. You can have 2 crew members for each job. One is standby and the other is active. The active one has an effect (e.g. raises ship's defense) and the standby doesn't. Simple. In battles, you use spirit points to get them to do stuff, like protect your ship for a full turn, or restore your ship's HP. Another thing about these ship battles is that you have to make decisions. Occasionally, you will find yourself faced with a choice. For instance, you can choose whether to come closer to an enemy or stay back from it. This will affect the danger ahead. You also have a powerful cannon (at first it's the harpoon cannon) that will cause a tremendous amount of damage. But you don't get to use it all the time, and you need a rather high amount of spirit points. There is quite a bit of strategy involved in ship battles, which I like more than the land battles.
Now, there are people who complain that the exploration aspect of the game is ruined by the random battles. THIS is why you have to beat the game. Eventually, you will be able to explore easier because you can fly above everything and below everything. At those altitudes there are no battles, so if you're trying to explore you can look down from the sky. And I've noticed that random battles seem to occur less when you get that far. There's plenty of secrets in this game, like a secret battle that's very, very hard, tons of Discoveries to find, lots of areas that you can't access without being able to soar that high, and crew members. The wait to explore until this point isn't hard because the game is fun anyway.
I should go over gaining experience, magic, and super moves. Of course, if a character falls unconscious during a battle and isn't revived, then that character gets no experience. Getting new magic is done by beating battles. The team gets the colors of magic that are the same colors as the weapons used. So, if your team's weapons' colors are Green, Silver, Red, and Blue, you will get that type of magic experience. I forgot to mention that magic also deals with the colors too. Again, you can see what color is weak against what color in the FAQs here :) You get super moves by using Moonberries. These are hard to find. You find them in treasure chests and in random battles, and they are limited so you probably won't have all of the moves in the game. That's a good thing, by the way.
Replay Value- There are people who play this massive game over and over again. I can't believe they have that time, but that shows just how good this game is. I'm not going to play it again, because I usually don't play these types of games over again (Shenmue being the lone exception), but if you do replay big games, then this is one of the games you would replay. Another thing is that there's lots of stuff to do after you beat the game. You can beat the game and then keep on exploring. Find everything. Plenty of replay value here.
Skies of Arcadia is one of those games that makes you wonder just HOW the Dreamcast died. With games this great and this memorable, how would the Dreamcast die so soon? You must not miss out on this game. It's coming to Gamecube as Skies of Arcadia Legend, too, so Gamecube owners have no excuses now. Fun battles, great exploration, beautiful presentation... what's not to like? 10/10
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/20/02, Updated 08/20/02
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