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Sky Pirates Attack!
Skies Of Arcadia Legends (GC)
Member Name: tirial
Skies Of Arcadia Legends (GC)
Advantages: Great graphics, Outstanding story, good airship battles
Disadvantages: More ship upgrades would be nice
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)
Summary: An outstanding game of sky pirates, evil empires and more.