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Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast) artwork

Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast) review

"The term ''greatest game ever'' or ''greatest RPG ever made'' is used about everytime a RPG- be it Square or somebody else- is released. Skies of Arcadia is the latest epic to- hopefully- get this moniker. "

The term ''greatest game ever'' or ''greatest RPG ever made'' is used about everytime a RPG- be it Square or somebody else- is released. Skies of Arcadia is the latest epic to- hopefully- get this moniker.

The Dreamcast has been strong in terms of software so far with the only big hole being the RPG. Contributions to the genre have ranged from cutesy simplistic dungeon crawls (the Evolution franchise), a tired port of a tired PC offering (Silver), a hyped up mega-flop (Time Stalkers), and two godforsaken ''games'' (EGG and 7th Cross). Sega single-handedly wipes out the bad memories with Skies of Arcadia.

The games story is typical RPG fodder: Vyse is a sort of adventre-starved teen and so is lifelong friend Akia. They meet the mysterious Fina and find themselves in an epic battle with a steam-technology-driven empire known as Valua, with both clamoring to retrive moon stones that could resurrect the Gigas, giants from years past. Skies of Arcadia's setting along with well drawn characters make it appealing. The game is set in a world of all sky and airships. Vyse, the hero, is the son of the leader of the Blue Rogues, a Robin Hood-like band who raid armed ships for supplies and treasure then gives them away to the poor and downtroddened. Vyse and Akia save Fina from a foppish Valuan admiral, and after meeting the likes of Drachma- a grizzeled humorless old timer hunting down a fearsome Whale for killing his son and crew- they find themselves on an epic quest to traverse the game's massive world to retrieve the moon stones and beat the empire to the punch.

Gameplay is what makes this game. The overworld in the game is the wide open skies and the airship. You fly around to islands, and towns. Battles are random in both the overworld and on islands. Fighting can get heavy- not to the point that you will be battling at every footstep, but battles are frequent.

The game features an interesting SP bar for battles. Characters share a bar for special attacks. Here, characters use MP or perform Super Moves. SP is used when performing either task. MP take a single magic point and varying SP points- anywhere from 1 SP to 8 SP. The party gains back a certain amount of SP between turns. There is also a focus option in battle which increases SP between turns.

Spells are obtained through the use of elements. There are six elements in the game, each representing SOA’s Gigas. Red if fire. Yellow is lightning. Blue is wind. Silver is sort of a healing element (spells learned in this element are effect spells like healing, resurrections, or instantly killing enemies). Green is earth. Purple Ice. You learn spells and gain experience in each field by equipping colored stones or spheres to your weapon. You gain the attributes of that element to the weapon and gain Magic experience toward that element. With the maximum 4 party members, you alternate the elements. You also gain magic experience in other fields that are being learned by party members.

Skills are learned through gaining levels, but in order to active them you need “moonberries” which are typically obtained through boss battles or in chests in levels. 1 or 2 moonberries allow for a Super move. Most Super moves are devastating attacks, with some having effects like protecting magic.

Fighting isn’t just restricted to obligatory character fighting. Since this is a pirate game, Skies features a superlative ship battle mode. You will clash with Valuan fleets and Gigas on the Little Jack, Drachma’s ship. Battles are split down to grids. Each character gets options- whether to use cannons, heal with spells, perform evasive maneuvers or focus to increase SP. There is a “super cannon”- one that takes a lot of SP and usually will not out enemies very quickly. Once orders are made they are played out. On top above the grid are cues to when the enemy will attack or not. Green means its safe to attack, yellow caution and they will attack, and red means that the enemy will use a super move. An icon for super cannon shows that it should be used. Ship battles usually aren’t avoided- they happen at critical points in the game. You will on occasion though get the option to fight Black Pirates- the opposite of the Blue Rogues- or Valuan cruisers.

The graphics are some of the best for any game on any platform. Textures are beautifully done and environments, specifically the jungle village Horteka, are brilliant. Spell effects are unbelievable as well and blow away any found in more recent PSX games. The spell effects can also be skipped by pressing the 'start' button, an added plus.

Skies of Arcadia is easily a must have. Dreamcast owners clamoring for that one great RPG have found it in this post-Shenmue world.

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Community review by pestes (Date unavailable)

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