We Are "Born To Play"
Skies of Arcadia
editors note: everything in this review taken from Dreamcast version of game. This review does not reflect the Gamecube game. Just the fact that it is coming to the GCN.
Every time I see that beautiful flashing intro of Skies of Arcadia I'm reminded of all my voyages with Vyse, Aika, Fina and the rest. Those beautiful lighting effects all the spells and attacks and of course ALL the bickering between characters. Well now it's time to relive that memory but with a huge graphical update and a brand-new console to play it on.
So I hear you've never played SOA or even heard about the Dreamcast. Well you're lucky I'm here to tell you about the story.
Well we've all wished about living up in the skies and traveling by flying ships. In SOA that's exactly what you do.
ok enough with the intro's
Vyse and Aika
are two respected Blue Rogues. Blue Rogues steal from the rich and no don't give to the poor but keep all the riches for themselves. So just like any other day (whatever) a Valuan Armada ship was flying through the air. The valuan Empire is basically the rich rulers of the skies of Arcadia. And since they've got the Armada... they're listened to. Not by the Blue Rogues though. So anyway for the first time in a while that Valuan ship had a purpose. Well blue rogues liking to steal from the rich Valuans decided to jump aboard and fight their way to the gold. Well after defeating a weak 3000 hit point boss (phew) they found the gold but along with that a knocked out cold mysteriously dressed young woman.
So being the nice ones they are they bring the lady back to their base to nurse her to health. to make a long story short... her name is Fina and she's a silvite. The Silvites are an ancient race that live high above the skies.
We all know Fina is a silvite (i just said come on). Well she has been sent on a quest to search for the 6 ancient moon stones.
The moon stones have the power to control huge terrible monsters called Gigas. The Gigas are huge terrible monsters (lol) that can be controlled by the one with the moon stone of it's color. This Fina dudette knows where all six moon stones are hidden (hmm. maybe under the 6 moons?). So the Valuan Empire wanted to catch her so she could lead them to the crystals so they could control the gigas and bring down the rains of destruction. The rains of destruction are an ancient use of destruction you could use when you have all the moon stones at your grasp. The rains of destruction where used a many years ago to renew the world from all the evil there (it killed all except a few).
Fina being rather weak and helpless ask the brave Vyse and Aika to help her on her quest. Once more to make another long story short... they joined her on her quest.
Almost throughout the whole journey you will have 3 or members in your party at any given time. The only time this doesn't apply is about through the first 2-4 hours (skill level varies).
SPELLS AND SPECIAL ATTACKS
With a range of over 100 spells there must be something going on here. To access new spells you will have to gain experience points. Along with the normal experience points of any RPG to get new spells each monster you defeat will give you magic experience. Every character has their regular attacks as well as their special moves. Special Moves are accessed by collecting extremely rare moonberries. By collecting a certain amount of these you can add a new special move to your characters attack list. Using magic spells and special moves takes up your parties spirit points. You start out with a certain amount of s.p. in the beginning and whenever your characters gain levels the party s.p. might go up
More than a new element in any RPG or videogame it's the Skies of Arcadia ship battles.
You could probably guess that in SOA you fly around the world in ships. Ships with cannons, too. So why not fight with these alleged... ships with cannons? While the first few battles are rather exciting these ship battles can get extremely annoying.
how these ship battles work
The first thing that you will see is a 4by4 grid and the usual attack, guard, etc half oval. Well you pick what attacks or guards you would like to use for the next 4 turns. When you're done the fighting takes place. You don't control, but watch. It takes about 1.5 minutes for the average 4 turns of you and your enemy to take place. Kind of boring. Most battles take at least 6 minutes to be over with the longest boss battle taking 30+ minutes (skill level again). Pretty boring except when you buy new cannons and such.
The currency of SOA is gold. Yes gold. And you can get a lot of gold. Every time you defeat 1 enemy or more you get some gold. You tend to get more gold by defeating ships and huge monsters by your ship. New weapons, armor, and cannons are bought by gold. Items on the other hand are bought by gold (i crack myself up). You will be very surprised near the end when you see 100,000 dollars worth of gold in your account.
What can I say? The graphics in SOA are simply amazing. Created near end fiscal year of 2000 the graphics were amazing for it's time. But now there are better graphics on the Dreamcast and other less significant (except GCN) systems. Some idiots might even call it graphically challenged. Well those idiots will see when SOA comes out on the 'cube. This RPG had the best lighting effects of any game and has just been beaten in that category by Luigi's Mansion. From the beautiful spells, to the dazzling ship cannons, all the way to the blinding super moves. For once the seizure warning in the beginning of a game might actually mean something to the less equipped minds (visually i mean). Although the monsters in this game aren't too great they're still rather good. I mean there's different monsters of course, but most of the time one monster is the same as another graphically except it has a different color and name. There was a lot of space for improvement on this side of the graphical department.
The music in this game is rather flattering and amazing. With an orchestra like conduct this is one soundtrack not to miss. The music while great the other section of videogame sound is lacking. The voice-acting while trying just sucks, alot.
hint: place the SOA disk in a CD-player to hear something special.
With 100 spells to master, over 500 monsters to tame, and... um. Yeah. Lets put it this way. the game rocks.
editors note: I completed the game in 45 hours. here's a skill level list
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