Skies of Arcadia Legends is an exploration and combat based RPG for the Gamecube. It is an updated version of the original, which was released for the Dreamcast console.
The plot launches you straight into the action, when Vyce, a young sky pirate, encounters a strange girl being kidnapped by the evil Valuan Empire. Rescuing her he sets off on a quest to get his own ship, avenge his family, find plunder, build a pirate base and hopefully save the world along the way.
Overall the game is an extensive mix of strategic sky battles, empire building and classic RPG action. The graphics are beautifully animated if rather basic, but some of the lighting effects are excellent and the sky battle sequences are gripping. The sound works well with the game and is rarely intrusive, while the background score is excellent.
This is classic fantasy and the pirate airships range from galleons to the hyper-advanced Delphinus, which looks more like a spacecraft. As you find new areas, much of the game is about Discoveries - hidden areas, oddities and creatures - that you can encounter and record for science. For anyone concerned about the ethics of playing pirates, Vyce and his crew are Blue Rogues (Privateers) who do not attack defenceless vessels and make a lot of their money hunting actual pirates - not that you can't pick a fight with an Imperial Warship or two along the way.
Normal combat is turn-based and fairly standard for an RPG. The standout feature however are the air battles, which feature excellent action sequences and a strategy-based mechanic that makes you have to anticipate your opponent and outthink as well as outfight him. However, this is supported by a strong plot, excellent characters and a huge variety of side quests. There are literally enough sidequests to keep a player busy for hours (at one point we abandoned the main quest for ten hours to hunt "Discoveries"). The controls were easy and intuitive, and elements that may have seemed complex were clearly explained before use. The tutorials from older mentors also made sense in the context of the game.
On its downside, I would have liked to have access to more ships, as this version of the game only has two, and more upgrades. The ship upgrades seemed to focus mainly on weapons and armour, understandable as they are pirates. Also, you can run into a great many random encounters getting around the map, and although they can be dodged it can take you far out of your way. Also, there is simply so much to do it can be easy to leave areas wondering if you've got everything you need.
Players of the Dreamcast original will be disappointed to learn that some elements, like buying and selling your ship, and some sidequests, have been dropped. However there is still enough here to keep a player busy and entertained for hours. Although the game is single-player, it is also one of the rare games where, with all the sidequests that involve spotting things, other people can have almost as much fun watching as playing and actually contribute to a player's success.
Overall I would say the game is excellent, with a great plot, characterisation and reasonable replay value due to the subquests. This is definitely one I would place in the top tier of RPGs.
(This is an update of my original CIAO review)
Originally released on the Sega Dreamcast, Skies of Arcadia was remade on its way to the Gamecube in 2003. This is game that deserved a lot more recognition that it received. It is a turn based role playing game (RPG) that is set in a world dominated by 'air pirates'.
You play the role of Vyse, he is the main character in the game but you also get to recruit others as the plot thickens. As you would expect the game has you needing to help a person in need. You'll take on an empire, air pirates and other enemies in epic battles. One thing I loved about the game was the exploration, the gaming world is massive! And, it also has depth meaning you can fly your vessel up and down. You are given a map which shows your current position and uncovered areas you have visited.
Once you reach new destinations they are added to the map, exploring these places is a lot of fun, make sure you stock up on supplies though because getting to the end which might involve battling a boss like enemy might be a bit too difficult if you are not prepared.
So anyway, about the battling, you earn XP through your victories. You also get to upgrade these gems that give you different powers based on the elements. Air, Fire, Wind etc. It really is good how in depth they are and you get to develop your own fighting style. Furthermore, there are special moves that you can pull off through the usage of your special points that you accrue each turn. The fighting is turn based so each of your characters gets to choose an action such as spell, item, fight, defend, and then your foe chooses theirs.
The game proceeds from there, you follow the story doing side quests along the way such as looking for discoveries, collecting bounties. This all adds to what is a pretty amazing game. You'll also get the chance to develop your characters and ship! This is done by buying items from shops or finding them around locations in the world.
The gameplay is smooth and well paced. You don't notice how quick times goes by when you are playing it and before you know it a few hours have passed. The only drawback is the saving, you cannot save whilst in a dungeon/temple type area. They can take a couple of hours to finish so make sure you don't have any plans if you are going to attempt to finish them. Apart from that and the enemies possibly being the same too often you have a nicely polished game that is fun to the end.
It offers a lot of hours gameplay, good graphics, audio and story. Well worth buying if you have played the original and definitely worth owning if you haven't.
5 out of 5
Skies of Arcadia first came to life on Dreamcast but was later ported to the Gamecube.
For those not in the know, Skies of Arcadia is a RPG where you take the role of a pirate who navigates the skies. It's definitely fantasy but yet believable. So expect to see plenty of ships sailing the skies!
Cutting straight to the chase without giving much away, when you first boot up Skies Of Arcadia you know that it's going to be something special, and it is. You can see that Sega quality shining through the game.
While the graphics and sound remain almost identical to the Dreamcast version, new special effects and support Dolby Pro-Logic II have been added. The graphics in themselves may not be stunning, but they have a special look and do the job of getting you into the game.
What really makes this game, imo, better than Final Fantasy series is the excellent storyline which you influence. for example, the plight of a city, amassing a crew with abilities
The story and gameplay will have you gripped right to the end.
Words can hardly do any justice on how good this game this.
If you are able to track a copy of this gem, do so, overlook the graphics and be prepared to spend a long time in the world of arcadia!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 9.2/10
This is a great little game it is a dream cast import RPG. It has standard RPG fighting methods seen in many games.
The games protagonist is a young pirate going by the name of Vyse, he and his friends and family set out to try and stop the Valuan Empire from reviving ancient weapons hidden in ancient ruins which may destroy the world.
The game is based in the sky and our heroes travel by flying boat from floating land to floating land fighting off both monsters and villains and making more friends which aid them in thier quest.
The main playable characters are Vyse: 17 year old boy,Aika: 17 year old girl, Vyse's close friend since childhood and Fina: 17 year old girl, "Silvite" (survivor of the ancient, defunct Silver Civilization).
You have the opertunity to change and up grade weapons, but different elements work best on different enemies.
It is fairly easy to get to grips with the controls and is fairly adictive even if the graphics look slightly dated by todays standards it is still pretty fun to play.