Some people play RPGs for their story, others for their gameplay. While Skies of Arcadia has enough
plot to keep the former happy, it also backs it up with some very solid gameplay indeed.
First and foremost comes the exploration. In a world of islands in the sky, hidden treasure is found not
just by looking north, south, east, and west, but up and down as well. This 3D spin on world design carries
over to dungeons as well. Rather than the simple mazes found in most games, here one must deal with shifting
floors, and flooding rooms with water.
Combat also requires a bit more thought than the average game. Spells and special moves consume a shared
pool of Spirit points which replenishes gradually as battle proceed. In addition to preventing the most
powerful abilities from being used right away, this shared pool of resources means generally one can't
cast a powerful healing spell with one character while casting a major damage spell with another, unless
they spend some time powering up beforehand.
Best of all however are the ship to ship battles. They blend traditional RPG combat strategies with complex
syntax dependant strategic decisions. Rather than just attacking while watching your HP, you must second
guess your opponent and look for tricks to gain the upper hand. Even with these strategic edges, the game is refreshingly
challenging, especially when probing for weaknesses in some of the later bosses.
Aside from the challenging and intriguing combat, later in the game, one can customize their ship and
secret base, which is simply fun. Skies of Arcadia earns the title of Best Gameplay of 2000 by
virtue of the variety and cohesiveness of all these gameplay elements.