13 August 2005 | edeki
Everything You'd Looking For in an RPG
When I first saw an advertisement for Skies of Arcadia (the US title of Eternal Arcadia), I wanted it immediately. When I researched it on the internet, I knew I had to get this game.
The thing that first drew me to the game was its premise. The world of Arcadia consists of floating islands. People travel between cities by use of airships. Among these people are Air Pirates. The "good" Air Pirates who take no hostages and only attack armed ships are called Blue Rogues. The main character Vyse and his best friend Aika are Blue Rogues. They and the crew of the Albatross sail around stealing from the rich and keeping it until they meet a mysterious girl named Fina. Together, they embark on a quest to find the powerful Moon Crystals before they fall into the greedy hands of the Valuan Empire.
Now that I've played the game, I can tell you the story is much deeper than that. There are scenes that have left me in awe for hours. It's full of twists and secrets, and at the same time, full of humor. I repeatedly find myself laughing at Aika and Gilder's comments. The dialogue is superb. It includes such memorable quotes as, "Women are like sunsets. They're beautiful, but there will be a different one tomorrow," said by the womanizing Captain Gilder.
However, I usually play a game for the gameplay. No matter how good the story is, if the gameplay's no good, it won't be any fun to proceed. Not a problem. Skies of Arcadia's battle systems are original, yet easy to understand. Yes, I said battle systems. Not only can your characters battle, but you can have ship battles, too, using cannons, torpedoes, and crew commands, which bring me to my next point.
The crew system was the part of the game I was most excited about before getting it. There are 22 recruitable crew members, all with interesting personalities and different conditions before they'll join. They help out during ship battles and have a special attack during regular battles. Vyse can walk around the ship and home base and talk to all of them. Some of them will do different things to decorate the base. Although few of them are very important characters, many of them are my favorites.
The crew system isn't the only thing you can do on the side. You can look for moonfish, find discoveries, go after pirates on the Wanted List. If you don't feel like proceeding to the next dungeon, you still always have something to do. Personally, I love finding discoveries.
Next are the graphics. While the graphics are old now, they were amazing for a game on Dreamcast, and I still like them a lot. I love how the characters' anime-style facial expressions change, especially Aika's. The animations for the characters' super-moves are beautiful, and the cutscenes are always enjoyable. Think of it this way: 3D technology is available, but people still make great 2D cartoons. In the same way, while the graphics for games are usually better nowadays, the graphics in Skies of Arcadia are still very pleasing to the eye, and I actually prefer them simple.
Finally, the music. I'm not great with instruments, but I believe that's a mad viola solo I hear in the battle music. Besides being amazing compositions, the music also tells you how you're doing in boss fights. If your characters are low on HP, the music changes. When your characters are okay and the boss has less than half its HP, the music changes. The regular battle music, the music inside the caves at Pirate Isle, and the "Yay! We're winning!" boss fight music are my favorites. The music in this game sets the mood like no other game music does. Energetic and hopeful when things are going well, frantic when they aren't, and dark and disturbing when a certain character comes along. I love the use of string instruments.
To sum up, no matter what you're looking for in an RPG, be it a good story, dialogue, gameplay, extras, graphics, music, or something else, chances are you'll find it in Skies of Arcadia. It surprised me by being a thousand times better than I expected. It is the best RPG I have ever come across, complete in every way. I strongly urge you to try this game. You will not be disappointed.