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Platform

Dreamcast

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Sega

 

Developer

Overworks

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2000

 

 

- Very captivating characters with great chemistry between them

- Solid visuals and animation

- Intriguing gameplay

 

 

- Way too many battles

 

 

Review: Final Fantasy X Review (Playstation 2)

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Skies of Arcadia

Score: 9/10

 

At long, long last the RPG drought on the Dreamcast has come to an end. Grandia II, Shenmue, and now Skies of Arcadia are some of the best things to happen to the DC since it launched in the fall of 1999. Skies of Arcadia (SoA) is not only one of the best RPGs to come to the Dreamcast, itís simply one of the best role-playing experiences of 2000. The battle system is intricate, yet not overly complex or daunting, the visuals are both beautiful and technically solid. Music and sound are both very captivating. The gameís characters are very lively, and quite likeable, and the story moves along at a good pace to keep gamersí attention. SoA is a great, great game.

 

Skies of Arcadia Dreamcast Review          Skies of Arcadia Dreamcast Review

 

Skies of Arcadia takes place in a land packed full of floating islands, where people travel the world in airships. However, itís not all smiles and sunshine in Arcadia as there are Air Pirates lurking, who are divided into two different types of groups: Black Pirates who prey on the helpless and are only concerned with their own well being, and Blue Pirates who only target military vessels and give much of what they take to the needy. Adding to this is that the Valuan Empire is getting power hungry and causing trouble wherever they go in order to advance their goals. Players take up the role of Vyse, a blue pirate, who, with his friend Aika, who come across a mysterious girl named Fina. Itís later discovered that Fina is a descendant from an ancient civilization that nearly destroyed itself, and the Valuan Empire wants this destructive technology. Now itís a race to try and get the technology first so that the world isnít destroyed.

 

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The visuals for this title are very tight. There isnít any draw-in, pop-up, or any other polygonal no-nos lurking here. The look of the game reflects a far more fantasy/cartoon-y feel. Itís almost a cross between Phantasy Star and Shining Force in the aesthetics department, but no matter which way you look at it there is a very heavy anime influence to this title. Itís not that bad-assed, Fist of the North Star anime look mind you, itís more of a super deformed look here, but not quite. Nonetheless, the monster and character design is very good in SoA. Vyse 

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and Aika look quite swashbuckling, Drachma looks like the grizzled old sea dog, and the various Admirals of the Valuan Empire are a very interesting mix of villains indeed. If youíre looking for some super-sized bad guys thereís the Gigas, who take up a sizable amount of screen space. But not only are the designs quite good, the animation is well done too. Everything moves along at a silky smooth frame rate, without missing a beat. Adding a little bit of icing to the graphical cake, there are also some very nice super moves for each character similar to Summoning spells in Final Fantasy, but players can hit start to get past the animation sequences if they want.

SoA sounds just as good as it looks too. The sound effects are very cartoon-like, just like the visuals, to it helps strengthen the anime feel of the game, so thereís a mix of the typical "bonk" noises and squishy sword swipe noises. The soundtrack has its fair share of toe-tappers too. There is a subtle Phantasy Star vibe to the music, regardless, itís all very, very good tune-age here. Oddly enough there isnít any voice acting in SoA. There are battle cries and other similar basic phrases, but the rest of the dialogue is in text form. However, considering how rare it is for the voice acting in a game to actually be good, this absence is welcome.

 

Skies of Arcadia Dreamcast Review          Skies of Arcadia Dreamcast Review

 

What really makes this game great are the characters. The chemistry between Vyse and his friends is very good. They joke around, have very animated discussions (ugh, bad pun), and generally make it damn near impossible for players to not develop an attachment to them. The villains too are very lively, behave in a very fluid manner, making them much more believable. Unfortunately the story itself is fairly traditional. The heroes are trying to stop a power hungry empire from collecting ancient weapons from a long dead civilization so they canít take over the world. But the interaction between the characters emphasizes the journey over the end result, and itís one hell of a ride.

If youíre looking for something new and interesting in the gameplay department SoA offers plenty. Most notable is the weapons/moonstone color scheme for battles. There are six colors for moonstones: Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Purple, Silver. Each color is particularly powerful against one of the other colors, and particularly weak against another color. This makes for a little extra strategy when getting into battles. The colors used in battle also determine which spells party members learns sooner, as the colors also correspond to the different types of magic in SoA. As such there are instances when it may be easier to win a battle with certain moonstones equipped, but doing so will cause the player to neglect using other moonstones whose magic is greatly needed. There are also two types of battles in the game, the already mentioned party battles, as well as airship battles. Here the flying vessels of Black Air Pirates and various Valuan vessels will face off against Vyse and the gang. There will be times when Vyse will have the advantage and will be able to really let the opponent have it, while there are other times when Vyse will have the disadvantage. Itís very much a turn based strategy battle sequence, but more than enough to add a nice level of variety to the battles. The one downside to the battles is that there are just way too many of them; itís another case of not being able to move three steps without getting into a fight.

For RPG fans with a Dreamcast Skies of Arcadia couldnít come soon enough. Now with it available thereíll be many DC owners seeing a lot of their time eaten up by this excellent title.

Reviewed by Mr. Nash

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