GameCube
enfrdeitptrues

 

Skies of Arcadia Legends Published by: Sega Developed by: Overworks ESRB Rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, and Mild Profanity For: Nintendo GameCube (Note: Skies of Arcadia is available for the Dreamcast)

During the last days of the Dreamcast, Sega unveiled Skies of Arcadia, which was greeted by critical praise. Tragically, it was not enough to save Sega?s console, and Skies of Arcadia faded away as a cult fan favorite of hardcore Dreamcast owners. A couple of years later, the strange partnership between former rivals Nintendo and Sega brought Skies of Arcadia to the Nintendo GameCube along with a few technical and content improvements (hence the ?Legends? addition), primarily to fill the gaping hole in the GameCube role playing game niche. Skies of Arcadia Legends is a true diamond in the rough within the GameCube library. Despite a few technical gripes and sluggish sales, this game is a true gem for RPG gamers. If you have not played the original Dreamcast version (I had not), and if you like epic turn-based role playing games, Skies of Arcadia is a great game and a nice departure from the more somber Final Fantasy mold. You can find Skies in many outlets for under $20 (including, at the time of this review, at Amazon.com and GameStop). For that price, Skies is more than worth the purchase, and will give you a good 50 hours of engaging gameplay in return.

Game play:

On the whole, gameplay in Skies is better than many of its technically superior counterparts. For starters, Skies is realistically a full 40 to 60 hour game. (I finished the game, along with many side quests, in just over 50 hours.) That gameplay is packed with an ever-evolving and expanding plot that manages to offer more and more reasons to keep playing as the game progresses. Without giving away too much of the plot, your main character (Vyse) gains a lot of responsibility during the course of the game as he grows up. Considering the relative absence of voice-overs, Overworks did a remarkable job with character development in this game. The interaction between the three main characters ? Vyse, Fina, and Aika ? ranges from sentimental to comical, and goes a long way toward bonding the game player with the characters and their destinies. Supporting cast members all have their own particular charms (or quirks) as well. On the other side of the fence, the bad guys in this game are compelling villains, and when you finally square off against the main villains toward the end of the game, Skies does an excellent job of painting a classic good versus evil match-up. There are two types of battle systems in Skies of Arcadia, and both of them offer some unique twists on gameplay. The first are the standard party battles, which make up the majority of combat experiences in the game. Like a lot of turn-based games, you select your party member?s attacks from a series of menus, then watch as they execute them. There is a collective party ?spirit meter? that accumulates points each round; this spirit meter allows specific party members (and in rare cases, the party as a whole) to execute spells and special attacks, and use of these spirit points adds another layer of strategy to the game. Also, the party characters can change the elemental affinity of their weapons, and certain elements cause more damage against certain elemental enemies than others. (If it sounds confusing, don?t worry; the game manual includes a nice chart that shows what trumps what.) The other battle system is the ship-to-ship battle system, and it is truly unique. At certain times your airship will enter into combat with different opponents. It is a battle system that is probably better experienced than explained, but essentially it is a cross between a turn-based party battle and the board game Battleship. The images of giant battleships bringing their cannons to bear upon one another is a nice changeup from regular battles. If Skies has any gameplay weaknesses, they are twofold. One, the dialogue can be a little hokey sometimes. Correction: it can be really hokey sometimes. I?m not sure if it is intentional or merely the product of localization, but some of the dialogue is so corny or so melodramatic so as to be completely unbelievable. Such is not always the case, though, and in a few instances the dialogue is inexplicably just the opposite ? deep and thoughtful. How such opposites wound up in the same game is beyond me. The other major weakness, through much of the game at least, is the mass quantities of random battles. While flying around in the overworld map, and while running around the game?s various dungeons, you will find yourself running into random encounters aplenty. Although rumor has it that Overworks toned down the random encounter rate for the GameCube version, you will still experience moments where random battles appear to be happening every ten seconds ? and there are potential penalties down the road for running away from combat. Fortunately, the battle system is pretty fun, so the random battles are not as much of a chore as they could be. Even more fortunately, as you progress through the game you are rewarded with ways to first reduce, and then eradicate, most random encounters, allowing you to venture into battle on your own terms.

Graphics:

Skies of Arcadia Legends is a port of the Dreamcast?s Skies of Arcadia, warts and all. At first blush, modern console veterans may be taken aback by Skies? graphical presentation. A lot of the models are blocky and dull, and pale in comparison to Final Fantasy X or Tales of Symphonia. But Overworks did a decent enough job evening out the framerate in the GameCube version. Besides, once you get into the game, don?t be surprised if you find yourself thinking less and less about the game?s graphical shortcomings. It?s that enjoyable. And it?s not that Skies is a complete eyesore. The graphical effects of some of the magic spells are pretty nice-looking, and some of the special attacks are just plain cool, if a bit over-the-top. And the characters in the game are really well-conceived, from the colorful main characters right down to the distinctive populations of each place you visit.

Sound:

The music in Skies of Arcadia is, for lack of a better phrase, pretty catchy. In battle, the music themes vary from techno (in regular battles) to more epic sets (in several boss and ship battles), and will vary depending on the health of your party and your opponents. The music changes in battle and becomes more urgent if you are near death, and more grand and triumphant if you are near victory. Outside of battle, there are also a decent number of tracks in the game that seek to capture different moods, including a fair number of pirate-themed works. Also, each ship you travel in has a specific travel anthem that actually varies subtlety from region to region, giving a sort of ethnic ambiance to different parts of the world. Overall, almost all of the music in the game is MIDI rather than orchestral, but it still comes off pretty well. As for voiceovers? Aside from the battles, there aren?t many, other than a few exclamations here and there. Whether you think voiceovers should have been done or not depends on your appraisal of the voicework already done in the game, but at the very least Overworks put in just enough voiceovers to supplement the dialogue a bit. Not much, but enough.

Control:

As should be expected for a turn-based role-playing game, the controls for Skies of Arcadia are very simple. The battle system is completely menu-driven, and the menus are well-organized and easy to sort through. The out-of-battle menu interface is a bit more cumbersome, but is overall easy enough to navigate, and is sort of stylish to boot. When navigating towns or dungeons, the camera can be a bit stubborn at times, but the game allows you to rotate the camera with the C-stick or the L and R buttons, so it usually isn?t too much of a problem.

Appropriateness:

Skies is a Teen-rated game. There are a couple of mild profanities, but not many. There are also a few sexually suggestive comments along the way, but most of them happen in such silly contexts that they don?t come off as badly as they could. Obviously, Skies is filled with fantasy violence, but there is no blood or gore. Also, Skies isn?t a thoroughly philosophical game. In contrast to Final Fantasy games, you won?t find nearly as many religious undertones to this game, though there are some moral dilemmas that pop up at points.

Closing Comments:

I originally picked up Skies of Arcadia Legends for the simple reason that it was, at the time, one of the few epic RPG\'s for the GameCube. Fifty hours later, I wondered how a game with so many flaws could nevertheless be so endearing. But the fact remains that, to this day, Skies remains atop most Dreamcast Top 10 lists and is still remembered fondly by many Cube owners who have played it. So if you are a serious RPG fan and have a Cube, take a flyer on this great tale.

Final Ratings

Gameplay: B+ Graphics: C Sound: B- Control: A- Appropriateness: B

Overall 84%

About the Author

joshofstl

Like us!

Donate

Please consider supporting our efforts.  Since we're a 501 C3 Non-Profit organization, your donations are tax deductible.

Latest Comments

Latest Downloads

Newsletter

About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

S5 Box

JFusion Login Module

Register