reviews\ Feb 4, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Skies of Arcadia Legends - GC - Review

Almost a decade ago, the Super Nintendo was the best place to find quality Role Playing Games (RPG’s). Last generation the Nintendo 64 had a few but they were rubbish, and the place to find the best was the Sony Playstation. Now that a new generation of hardware has come along, Nintendo wants to reclaim that position away from the Playstation 2, but there have been few games that have been released that will enable them to do so. Sega’s Skies of Arcadia Legends wants to change that. Is this the best RPG game on the GameCube, or is it too out dated to compete with the other RPG’s on the market? Read on to find out.

People live on floating islands, and they fly their ships as far as the eye can see. In this world there is no ground, but an all-encompassing sky. This is where they live, battle, explore, and die. At any given time, people might hear the roar of cannons firing upon enemy vessels, and the Air Pirates are the ones taking the lead. These pirates are armed people who want to search the world for treasure and stronger enemies to fight against. Vyse, a young pirate, along with his best friend Aika, attack a battleship of the Valuan Empire, which is the strongest military power in the world. It is here where they meet a young girl named Fina. She is different than everyone else in the world, yet she will not tell where she is from or what her mission is. A few days later the Empire sends a fleet over to Pirate Isle, the headquarters of the Blue Rogue Pirates, and home to Vyse. When the raid was complete, the island lay in ruins and Fina was captured. It is now up to you to rescue Fina and learn the details of her mission. Are you brave enough to accomplish this or will you remain a scallywag your entire life?

Through out the game, players will have a variety of different people to help out in your quest. Vyse is a young pirate who wishes to become the greatest pirate in the entire world, his weapon of choice is two cutlasses (swords) and he handles them with great proficiency. Aika is Vyse’s childhood friend, she is trustworthy and extremely reliable; her weapon of choice is a large boomerang. Fina is from another world, she is quiet, and never tells anyone where she is from. Cupil is always by Fina’s side, he will transform into a weapon to protect Fina. Drachma lost his eye and arm in an accident; his sole purpose in life is to capture a huge whale called Rhaknam. There are many other people Vyse will come in contact with, and they will help the gamer in many different ways.

In this world there are six moons with different colors: red, green, purple, blue, silver, and yellow. Each moon floats separately from one another, and has different attributes: fire, life, ice, wind, void, and thunder, and each island under the moon will develop under its culture. Vyse comes from an island under the red moon, and the Valuan Empire is under the effect of the yellow moon. Through your journey players will meet people that live under these various moon, and they will help you out in your quest.

Moon Stones are pieces of rock that has fallen from the various moons. Each stone contains a great amount of energy that people use as a source of fuel for everyday life. Each stone contains a special power, and can be harnessed. If a moonstone is red it will contain the power of fire, and players will be able to equip that attribute on their weapons, and gain different magic spells. Here is a complete list of all of the stones and their attributes. The red stone contains the power of flames and the ability to raise different abilities. Green stone has the power to heal wounds and cure poison. Blue has the power of the wind, and can alter wind conditions. Purple has the power of ice and it can alter the mind of enemies. Silver has the power of void; it presides over life and death. Yellow is the power of thunder, and it can weaken enemies. The key to these are mixing and matching each attribute to your weapons to be more efficient in battle.

Players have to be aware of their Swashbuckler rating. The rating is an outcome or the event and replies gamers make in a conversation. If players make correct decisions and do great actions, the rating will go huger, and the higher it is the more people will trust you. When the title changes, there will be a “chiming” sound.

Skies of Arcadia: Legends is rated T for Teen for mild violence and suggestive themes. It will take three blocks of memory to save.

Gameplay: 9.3
Even though the game is over two years old, it is still extremely fun to play. It contains all of the things that make RPG’s so fun, wonderful plot, tight controls, strategy, and many other things. The battle engine used for this game is great! Examples of this is being able to switch your weapons attributes during battle, seeing your characters move around during combat, and ship to ship combat. I think that this was a great idea to include while creating this game, not only do players have to worry about the health of the characters, but also the upkeep of the ships, to make sure they don’t fall apart during battle. This helps break up any sign of repetitiveness that comes from fighting enemies with the main characters. The Spirit Points, or SP, system is one of the neatest ideas for the battle system. All of the characters share a gauge to do all of their special attacks and magic, which brings a great deal of strategy when taking on any boss.

There are a lot of mini games to keep players entertained when they get tired of the main quest. There will be fishing games, finding hidden islands, and many other great things to help break up any sign or the game becoming mundane and boring. Players can even join the Sailors Guild to buy and sell information to help them progress in the game. The inclusion of all of these things will give the player a lot of replay value, and give the gamers more bang for their buck.

Graphics: 8.1
A few years ago, when Skies of Arcadia was originally released on the Dreamcast, this was one of the most gorgeous games around. Fast forward to 2003 and you will find that this game is still great looking, but it is not up to par with other games in the same genre. The textures and everything else looks good, but the GameCube is able to handle more than this game gives. The frame rate stays at a steady thirty frames per second. Each of the characters has a high polygonal count, and nice textured, but there is room for improvement. Along the same line, the environments look nice as well. This game looks essentially the same as it did when it was released a couple of years ago.

Sound: 8.5
The music used in this game is average, but it is not Earth shaking and give you that warm fuzzy feeling on the inside as some games do. The music is composed well, and it never gets dull, but it is lacking something that other games have. There are no voice-overs either, since this game was made over two years ago. It is hard to image a time when RPG’s didn’t have full voice-overs in this post Final Fantasy X era. I guess we are all getting spoiled to them, because the game didn’t seem to come as alive as other ones do. The sound effects used are adequately done, but it is not something to brag about. The game does stand out compared to the other RPG’s on the GameCube.

Difficulty: Medium
Like any RPG, this game can get extremely hard if players don’t take the time to level up their characters. For instance in the beginning of the game, if players just do the first mission with out any sort of leveling up, they will have an extremely hard time trying to defeat the first real boss. Once gamers figure out this concept, the game will prove to be a little challenging but fun at the same time.

Concept: 8.5
This concept has been done a lot: figure out the past of a mysterious person and save the world from impeding evil. That is not why this section received a high score. The battle engine really impresses me. While one character is fighting, players will be able to see the other characters fighting it out, no damage is being done, but the characters are moving around like it would happen in real battle, not standing in a straight line, attack, defend, and repeat. This way of battling is old, it is just like the British, and other military powers did back in the colonial days, and we see how well that turned out. This gives the players a sense that battles are really going on.

Overall: 9.0
There are hardly any quality RPG’s on the GameCube, plain and simple. Skies of Arcadia: Legends helps fill the void to give players a change to feel what a true RPG on their system of choice feels like. The main problem with this game is that it feels a little dated, especially when you compare it to FFX or other games coming out shortly. Other than that it is a great game to play, and any person who likes to play RPG’s should pick up a copy.


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