Skies of Arcadia Legends
Game Info
Platform(s)
GC
Publisher
Sega
Developer
Overworks
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Suggestive Themes, Mild Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Large adventure with a fun story
• Puzzle elements in dungeons is nice
• Encounter rate isn't excessive
• Bounties and discoveries are a great addition

The Bad

• Battles tend to feel long
• Battle system is pretty standard
• Not overly deep in terms of story or character depth

 
Grade
B+

Skies of Arcadia originally came out for the Sega's own Dreamcast in late 2000 - an obvious effort for Sega to have a large, internally-developed RPG that would appeal to those who enjoyed the likes of Suikoden, Final Fantasy and Grandia. Once the Dreamcast was discontinued, Skies of Arcadia followed many other Dreamcast titles (like Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Grandia 2 and Evolution) in their exodus to the new generation of consoles. After slapping the name Legends at the end of the title and adding some new content to the game, Sega released their RPG onto the Gamecube.

The story behind Skies involves a young duo of Air Pirates by the name of Vyse and Aika. The world of Arcadia is composed of islands floating in air and travel between the islands is done by way of air ship. But, along with the various countries and regions, including Valua and Nasr, the world is populated by Air Pirates, which is broken down between evil Black Pirates, who attack everyone, and the Blue Rogues, who act more like air-bound Robin Hoods. When the young Vyse and Aika rescue an unusual girl by the name of Fina from the Valua armada, they find themselves involved in a large quest that will have them hunt down six magical crystals before these crystals are used to summon powerful beasts known as Gigas.

When it comes to story, I would say that I really enjoyed the humorous aspect of the story and characters. It was nice to play a pretty upbeat game, not unlike watching Pirates of the Caribbean, where the adventure is actually fun and not beaten down by harsh brutality. While the script and character development is never really all that deep or complex, it does well enough to drive you forward. If you're looking for an overly complex tale and conflicted characters, this may not work for you, but if you don't want to be bothered with excess, SOAL is where you need to be.

Skies core gameplay involves a lot of exploration, be it by foot or by airship. Players will find themselves raveling to various locations to progress the story. Most locations are in-fact dungeons where you can find treasure chests, battle monsters and find the necessary switch or puzzle element to move along. While the puzzles found in the dungeons don't prove to be overly complicated, they are a great addition to keep the tedium of moving from beginning to end at a minimum. While battles are random, the encounter rate is usually not as bad as found in the last few Final Fantasies.

Once you get into battle, you'll find a standard turn-based affair, where you assign actions to your team and then watch as the whole turn plays out between your characters and the enemies. While the game plays at dynamic action on-screen, you'll find that it's no different than older RPGs, where you can land a blow, be it a distance or melee attack no matter where you are in the area. During battles, characters have the option to attack, cast magic, use special abilities, defend, run or focus to charge the Spirit Meter, which proves to be a major element of battle. Your party has a Spirit Meter that charges every turn, but is depleted when you use magic or special abilities. Using magic also depletes MP, which comes at a premium, forcing players to be very careful not to abuse magic.

Because one of the major focuses of the story involves the six moons of the world of Arcadia, there are six types of magic available, color-coded for your reference. To learn new magic, players must swap the affinity of their weapons during combat, which is just as easy as pressing a button before selecting that character's attack. At the end of battle, players earn "experience" in that affinity and when they gain new levels, they learn new spells. While changing the affinity of your weapon can affect the damage dealt to enemies, it's not so much of a difference as to turn the tide in any battle.

While in most games, traveling in an airship proves to be a means to an end, in SOAL, it's actually a pretty vital element, especially since you can get into midair battles with other ships. These battles prove to be somewhat similar to regular battles but with a different interface. You'll give your team orders to be carried out over a series of turns. Just like regular battles, you have a Spirit Meter and can focus, cast magic or use the dodge action to lessen attacks on your ship. Attacks come in the form of equipped weapons that you can select, including types of cannons and torpedoes. Every now and then, you'll be given the chance to use your special weapon, which often does ridiculous amounts of damage.

Along with the main quest are a lot of optional things to find and do. While you're running around, you can find Chams to give to Cupil, Fina's pet and weapon, which levels the little bugger up the more you give him. Also, you can locate Moonfish, which you'll need to go into first-person mode to capture with a special tool and give to Doc and Maria in exchange for items. And then there's the guild, which provides you the opportunity to find discoveries and track down bounties on evil pirates for money.

Visually, Skies of Arcadia Legends shows its age, but still manages to look good enough to carry the game. The locations are sizable with enough detail to give the gameworld a convincing life. The color palette is bright and exciting and while the textures may not be the most hi-res you'll ever see, they're detailed and varied enough to be a plus. The overall look of the game, including character models, tends to be a bit blocky, but still does well on its own. The game does benefit from large locations with very little excessive or noticeable loading. Visual effects are decent, but don't really impress too much. Probably the strongest aspect I found in the graphics were the extremely expressive facial animations that show a heavy anime-influence and carry the range of emotions well.

Audiowise, Skies does a good job, especially with the varied music themes and fairly decent sound-effect palette. For those spoiled by the likes of Final Fantasy X and Xenosaga, the lack of a heavily voice-acted script may take you off-guard, but older RPGers will find no issue with this. In fact, there are more than enough vocal bits that act as accents to the story rather than directly speaking the script that it works well enough to help define the characters.

While I won't hold the age of the graphics against Skies of Arcadia Legends, I did find a couple of other things that can prove to be an annoyance. First and foremost, battles tend to take a bit of time to play out as they feel slower paced. Ship battles feel even longer as each turn is often padded with excess footage of the ships flying around, supposedly engaging each other. Also, as a point of personal preference, I didn't care for the character design, which I thought to be uninspired. The standard array of monsters are even more boring, proving to be a necessary annoyance to get to the bosses. Plus, some of the story with littered with RPG and anime clichés. But, with that said, I still enjoyed the overall story and the interaction that the characters provided.

Skies of Arcadia Legends is one of those RPGs that just has a certain charm to it. Like Final Fantasy 7 or Xenogears, it's the kind of game that will go down in most gamer's memories for the quality of the adventure and the fun found within. While some elements of the game aren't perfect, the underlying adventure is more than worth the time. If you already have the DC version, this one may not provide too much new stuff to make it worth the time or price. For GC owners, though, it's the best RPG the system has going.

- - Kinderfeld

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