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Skies of Arcadia - Review

Would you like a game with those battles?

By: Erik


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 4
   Plot 6
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 4
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

35 - 60 hours

 
Overall
7
Criteria

Skies of Arcadia
 

   It's not every day that you get a really good RPG when your not a PSX owner, like myself, but when I heard Skies of Arcadia was hitting the shelves I was excited.  It is made by a practical dream team of designers and of course the name 'Sega' is on it so you know quality is abound.  But don't go rushing out to the stores to buy this one if your looking for a whole new RPG experience to delve into.  This is more of a game to tide you over until the next installment of Shenmue, Legend of Zelda or Dragon Quest.

   The game has two battle systems, normal and ship battles.  The game really gets back to basics on the normal battle system.  It's not the real-time system that Final Fantasy made so popular, but rather a more traditional turn based system.  And the game is VERY traditional in this sense.  Your stats then determine the order in which characters attack, and how much damage they deal and how much you take.  There is a new concept the game called Spirit Points.  The whole party draws from this pool of points to do special attacks and spells; different spells and attacks take more Spirit Points then others.  You are allocated so many spirit points a turn, and your characters can spend their attack turn creating more Spirit points.  This makes the battle more strategic then some from the NES days of Dragon Quest, but may get more annoying then innovative.  And you'll get used to the battle system really quick with how often you have to use it.  Let's face it you run into battles more often then Madonna is in the tabloids.

  You also get to battle Airships in this game with your own airship!  Ever since FFIV I've wanted to do that I know many out there agree.  This part is fun and innovative.  Again the spirit points are used.  Almost everything you want to do during a ship battle takes up spirit points so one has to learn how to balance offense and defense to get the most out of your Spirit points.  Basically each round of combat has four turns.  During those turns you can instruct any one of your four party members to do one of the following: fire a weapon, gain spirit points, guard (useful for a change!), cast a spell, fire the specialty cannon (later in the game), or use crew commands (later in the game).  Things get interesting as different turns have different properties, it may be more advantageous to fire on round then another, or your ship may endure heavy fire one round so it may be best to block.  Also you can play ahead as conditions that will occur in the next round are displayed as well.  Certain weapons can fire for more then one turn and others can be fired on some turns and then hit on another.  The loads of options really makes ship battle very very fun.

   The game itself is very user-involved.  During ship battles you'll often be asked what to do next; whether to fly around behind the enemy or to wait and see what they do is an example.  Also your main character, Vyse, has what is called a Swashbuckler rating.  This rating is a title like Vyse the Determined or Vyse the Respected.  Your rating changes as you are called to make certain choices in situations or how to respond to both PCs and NPCs.  One thing I was very disappointed in was the inability to rename your characters.  I love that option and really didn't like it being non-included.


Wonderful Airship Combat
Wonderful Airship Combat  

   The music of the game is the standard, almost generic, fodder of RPGs in the past.  Nothing special, but you'll keep your game music on most of the time.  The sound effects are very nice.  I have the luck of play on a Dolby 5.1 surround sound system and the cannon fire and explosions are just great.  There is what I call pseudo voice acting in this game.  Although it is primarily text driven occasionally characters will say "Thank You." or "Aye Aye!".  This is annoying at first, but you grow to love it and when I started playing other games I missed it.  The voice attacking during battle a really good touch as well, people give shrieks or pain and grunts of determination as the battle progresses.  I usually don't like voice acting, but I liked the stuff in Skies.

   If your looking for a new exciting original game stop now and get Shenmue.  This game falls victim to so many RPG clichés I don't know where to begin.  Also the plot is pretty predictable, and you'll always be saying 'I saw that one coming' or something like that.  The characters are well developed and very likable, well almost all of them.  The dialogue is done very will, with the help of a small amount of voice acting.  But the plot is that standard, "start out doing something small and end up saving the world" type plot we've seen a million times.


Memorable Characters
Memorable Characters  

   Will you play it again?  Probably not, there is a good amount of secrets and side quests, but nothing special enough to make you want to go back through to see what happens if you do something different.  It is a long game, but it probably won't see the light of your Dreamcast laser again.

  Visually the game is very nice.  The character renders are well done and life-like movement all around.  There is a warning before the game about how some of the flashing lights may cause epileptic seizures.  Let me tell you you might wish you were epileptic to get what they get out of the explosions because wow are they done poorly.  Water and Ice effects are done very well, but the fire and explosions look like crap, which is a shame because it happens allot with all the ship battles.  The game is beautiful, but the effects leave you feeling like you could've got better, and most likely have gotten better, on the PSX.

  If your looking for difficulty you came to the wrong place.  The battle are very easy once you learn to manage your Spirit Points.  The boss battles may leave you laughing, especially towards the end.  The hardest battle is not the final boss.  The ship battles are fun and strategic, but hardly difficult.  What really might make this game challenging is it'll test your patience.  You must look for things often, landmarks, caves, islands, ect, that you are just given a general direction for, like north.  Often you can't even see these things, you just have to be where they are and be pressing the A button at the same time.  And the whole time your doing this random battles come along, really annoying.


Land Ho!
Land Ho!  

  The game is pretty long and with all the side quests you can really spend some time on the game, but you can also cut through all the outside stuff and just flat out beat the game senseless too.  I'd say any where between 35 to 60 hours can be spent on it.

 The battle system is cliché as well as the plot.  The ship battles are fun and the game is beautiful.  The characters are well done and the dialogue is done well.  The game is nice, but not great.  Sometimes you really do need to just get up and take a break from the battles, because you fight them allot.  Overall get this game is you need a filler on this gaming dry spell we've been having, but don't expect it to blow you away.  I was also disappointed with the ending, but that's all I'll say about it.  Overall I'd say buy it if you don't have any other new games you're into, after you've gotten Shenmue, Final Fantasy IX and Ogre Battle 64, Skies of Arcadia is your next stop on your RPG list.






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