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SKIES OF ARCADIA: LEGENDS (GCN) RETRO REVIEW

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SKIES OF ARCADIA: LEGENDS (GCN) RETRO REVIEW

Post  Adminassassin on Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:48 pm

Ver 1.0, might be updated to correct battle or control descriptions
By James Daniel Fluker

Skies of Arcadia was originally launched towards the end of the Dreamcast’s lifetime. Largely due to the commercial failure of the system it was launched on, it did not light up sales and for many, was quickly forgotten. SEGA and the developer Overworks wisely decided to bring a “Director’s Cut” version of the game, subtitled “Legends,” to the Gamecube in 2003. This version boasted improved graphics, less-frequent battles and new content. While it also did not move tons of units, any self-respecting RPG enthusiast or even those less familiar with the genre ought to take a look.

The game started a lot of genre concepts that is now a little cliché. More recent games like Final Fantasy XII and Nostalgia have explored Air Pirates and Ship Battles but this was where they first really surfaced and worked well.

Battles are traditional turn-based affairs but with a bit of spice on top. Each turn, a certain amount of Spirit Points (SP) is built up. SP is separate from the Magic Points (MP) used for normal magic attacks, as it is shared amongst all party members for “Super Moves”, flashy moves that can turn the tide of a battle. Biding time to wait for such a move to be available adds strategy, since you can’t just spam them and then use a recovery item, like many games allow for MP.

The battle system also incorporates elemental strengths and weaknesses. There are 6 different elements, each of a different color, and they all have their pros and cons in a rock-paper-scissors format. Once unlocked through the quest, players will need to switch up the elements their weapons are channeling with the touch of the “Y” button, as it will dramatically affect the damage done with physical attacks.

Completely separate are the ship battles, which use an entirely different system that focuses on placement and direction. Each party member gets a turn to do something, whether it is movement, healing or firing one of the cannons, torpedoes or missiles available. The heavily customizable and upgradeable ship also has its own SP gauge for its own special attacks.

Pulling players through the quest is an enthralling and twist-filled plot. It does cover a few clichés of the genre, like fighting guardians of the different elements, traversing sewers and infiltrating enemy bases. However, each character is believable and goes about with their own motives and the villains are deliciously evil. The character designs are somewhat hit or miss but almost all are unique and recognizable. Sadly missing from the story is full voice work, which would have really helped the text-boxed based cinematic scenes. Characters do utter a few short voice clips such as growls, “Alright”s, “No”s, and the like during certain lines, which makes it all the more regretful that it was omitted.

The music is also well done with several memorable favorites that will stick with you long after the scene is over. Much of it is done with a light but successful orchestra and helps to add atmosphere to the somewhat silent cinematic scenes.

The world map is vast, with dozens of cities and other locations and just the main quest will keep players going for over 50 hours. On top of that, there are numerous side-quests. The world has not been fully discovered and players can find rumored locations and treasures for rewards. There are also “Chums”, small creatures hidden in dungeons and towns that will feed one of the main character’s weapons and add stat bonuses and special attacks.

Besides the lack of voiceovers, there are a few minor things that slightly drag the title down. While this version had random battles reduced in rate and gave more experience points in return, battles are still somewhat slow-paced, especially toward the end of the game. Super Move animations can be skipped, but not if an enemy is using them; then they must be watched every time and a few of them are too long. Also, while the graphics were upgraded for this re-release, the textures have not aged well and are hard on the eyes when things are close up. A few character models could have used a little more work too, but overall the game looks pretty good for something ten years old.

Replay value is low, as it is for most RPGs, but the game does do one thing that might have players coming back for a second playthrough. In the latter portions of the game, there are three different “fourth” party members to choose from, all very unique with their own special moves. Players really only have the time to level one of them up and earn their Overdrives. You can also only choose one to bring for the final battles, which makes some minor difference in some scenes too.

Skies of Arcadia has become somewhat of a niche title, beloved by the few who gave it a chance. As such, finding a cheap copy will not be easy, but despite its minor faults, it’s definitely worth searching for. Like the quest of its protagonists, you’ll be searching for treasure.

9/10

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Re: SKIES OF ARCADIA: LEGENDS (GCN) RETRO REVIEW

Post  Adminassassin on Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:40 pm

You can see this review, with pretty pictures and formatting here!
http://www.nint3ndo.org/2010/09/gamecube-review-skies-of-arcadia.html

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Re: SKIES OF ARCADIA: LEGENDS (GCN) RETRO REVIEW

Post  Terra on Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:31 pm

Nice review Admin Smile

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Re: SKIES OF ARCADIA: LEGENDS (GCN) RETRO REVIEW

Post  Starlight on Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:25 pm

I still need to play this game. Shocked

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Re: SKIES OF ARCADIA: LEGENDS (GCN) RETRO REVIEW

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