Review by maximummaker

Reviewed: 12/08/04

No RPG can touch the story line to be discovered here. Actually, this title holds water in every catagory

The story takes place in a world called Arcadia (I'm not going to go into detail with the storyline, but I will lay it out for you), where islands float about, and open skies are navigated through flying ships, or boats as you will. Vice, Fina, Aika, the first three main characters, will embark upon a vast quest, though the reasons for the quest will constantly change as the story line unfolds and new twists turns change your destiny. Many subjects that are shown and brought up in Skies of Arcadia are destiny, fate, coincidence, friendship, lust, hatred, bravery, exploration, revenge, power and death (not the killing enemies kind of death). As you reach the end of your quest, you'll feel a great deal of accomplishment, through villagers hearing about your bravery, to the monumental obstacles you've overcome with your crew as a whole. As your crew in general, the characterization is so in depth that you'll be attached to every main character on your crew the entire game, only becoming more familiar with them as the story progresses. I can't really stress enough about this game's storyline, it's one of those story lines that stays fresh and strikingly interesting throughout its over 40 hour length the first time through, including its phenomenal ending that even leaves a door open for a sequel, while thoroughly finishing and completing the saga you fought through.

As the story line's craftiness shines, so does Skies' battling system(s). Regular battles are pretty much your standard RPG fair, though instead of your team standing in a line, depending on their personality, your team mates will run up to enemies and take swings at them while dodging enemies in the process, your characters will also back up and guard in some cases; though none of this action really matters, it's just there to add the feel of a real battle. The one thing that makes Skies of Arcadia's ground battles stand out is the SP points system; these SP points will be recharged every single battle, allowing you to unleash devastating special attacks on your foes, while also gaining back more SP points after every turn allowing for a wide variety of action. Your maximum SP points and how fast they charge up will depend on your experience levels though, most of the game it's a pretty good balance that makes battles pretty close, with out letting you totally trash every enemy you encounter. You can also use magic, like every other game, but the special attacks almost make the magic system obsolete, considering magic takes away magic points and special points; though the magic system can do without, it just depends on your battling style to whether or not you will to use it. Now onto the ship battles, well, these aren't the ship battles you’re probably thinking of right now, in Skies of Arcadia you actually get to engage in a battle with another ship! This proves to be the more original battling system in Skies, and surprisingly has a great deal of strategy to it. A ship battle is set up where you and your opponent's ship will constantly be flying around (each ship battle varies from each type of ship you face), though this battle system is still turn based, it still manages to work its charm right in by giving varying types of cannons, items and magic attacks to use. What you do is, you pick which one of your team mates will fire what type of cannon on what turn they will do it on (they can use items too). This might seem complicated in text, but it's really fast on the grid system that allows you to just pick what you want to do just like that. Then as you confirm your last character's move, you'll watch the battle unfold with cinematic like camera switches, zooms, and pans, then you'll start the process all over again until one of your ships reaches 0 hp. I almost forgot about one innovative feature that the battling system(s) that Skies has to offer, on the fly you can change the type of attack your weapon is attacking with, whether it be, ice, fire, electricity, spirit, water, or earth. Depending on what type of enemy you are facing, you want to have the best possible property to attack with (the instruction booklet shows what color trait is best against what color); it might take awhile to learn what most enemies are weaker against, but this does add a nice subtle twist to the battles. Which brings me to mention the extra story line additions they've added, though they don't seem to be much of an addition, they do add an extra mysterious level into the game, though the Piastol fiasco just seems stupid, it's easy to block that part of the story line when so much other things are going on though.

So we've capped on the story line and battling, now it's finally time to divulge into the extras Skies of Arcadia has that will have you playing this classic for well over 100 hours of play. The skies are filled with flying fish that you can collect, which can be sold or used as items (each fish has different effects), or in some cases collected for people; Fina's Cupil has to be fed "Chams" to gain levels and evolve ( Cupil is a round flying creature that transforms into weapons to help Fina fight). There's tons of discoveries to find here, discoveries are like vast mysterious places, objects or creatures that will be documented when you press the A button by them (The compass will start spinning like crazy to let you know that your next to a discovery); Also present are ridiculously hidden treasure chests to find, I still don't know any one who's found 100% of them, even people that have had strategy guides can't do it; Extra crew members can also be found here (don't want to ruin anything later in the story line, so that's all I'm going to say); little side secrets to get rare items and weapons are scattered throughout the game.

Another huge focus in this game is its sound's great sense of involvement and flair. Almost at all times will Skies of Arcadia's sound tilt your mood and awareness to what's going on. There are also plenty of memorable songs to keep your mind flurrying with joy every time you enter a familiar place. The short voice acting blurbs that remain through out the story and battles, also give your mind just enough to see each character's personality quite well too. Though it's a shame that they didn't have more voice acting, it doesn't really hurt this title; it just leaves you wandering what it would be like if there was full voice acting.

After everything is said and done, Skies of Arcadia is a phenomenal title, with one of the most memorable story lines ever, great fun battles with enough innovation to keep you coming back, and plenty of extras that triple the amount of replay time after the storyline is finished. A must have for anyone, even if you don't like RPG's you just can't help but love this game.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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