Skies of Arcadia

released on Oct 05, 2000

Arcadia is a world where continents float high above, and people travel by airships. Among the countries of this world, the most powerful one is the Empire of Valua. Guided by its greedy admirals, Valua strives to possess all the power in Arcadia. The boy Vyse and the girl Aika are members of the Blue Rogues - noble pirates who attack only Valuan war ships. During one of their confrontations with a battle ship, they encounter a girl named Fina, who is on an important mission whose secret she cannot tell yet. Involved in the conflict with the Empire of Valua, the trio of the heroes must explore the whole world of Arcadia in order to defeat the admirals.

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Really feels like you're on a grand adventure when playing this game and normally im not much of a fan for carefree characters but i think they did it pretty well here and also the gameplay is fun.. Wish the encounter rate was lower but i think its fixed in the gamecube version.. Only reason i played this version was because the sound quality was noticeably higher but i kind of regret it now considering the port to gamecube has extra content and such... Only complaint with this game is that it dragged on a little too much and i didnt care for the boring ship battles
All in all though i loved this game a lot and it really deserves a proper remaster or remake where all the content isnt shoved onto one disc (gamecube version).

God this game is so good. It's so God. Damn. GOOD. The visuals are aces, the pacing is pitch perfect, the character writing is top level and perfectly developed. The soundtrack is an orchestrated feast for the ears and it rocks socks.
Really this game is a solid 50-60 hour package with the chops that few JRPGs I feel even come CLOSE to getting right. I mean that seriously, I couldn't stop playing this for days just being gripped with flying through the sky and finding new discoveries, islands, and fighting some very bizarre enemies.
Sadly the only thing holding this back from a perfect score is just the VERY slow combat that (while strategic and honestly really gripping) just tends to drag out for a minute or two for a simple random encounter. And you get simple encounters. A lot. Frequently.
Ship battles fare much better as the larger movement paths they make keep the fights more visually interesting and also take their placement into consideration in a larger scope. The game honestly shines the most in these fights with a combo of strategy, timing, and outplaying your opponent. It feels as good as it (almost) looks.
A stellar game, honestly. A tried and true classic on the Dreamcast.

fuckin AIR PIRATE RPG BABY LETS GO!!! The random encounter is a bit cracked up, though part of the experience is hearing the dreamcast laser clunk about right before a random encounter drops, giving you a half second to pull up the menu and heal. While the plot might be a bit of a standard mcguffin hunt with some piratey anti-establishmenty vibes thrown in, the vibes are immaculate. Soaring the sky seas is a lot of fun, you get to amass a pirate crew of uniquely designed and written characters, and you get to be a mfin explorer circumnavigating the earth proving all those flat-skyworlders wrong. This game is fantastic and its a crime that sega hasn't rereleased this outside of one gamecube port. PLAY IT

sort of same-y, and rather difficult to muster the patience to finish. though i will say it probably has the best classical battle system post-snes.

A Nostalgia Review
I will forever be deeply bummed out that Skies of Arcadia never exploded in popularity. How is it I live in a world where, since the release of Skies of Arcadia in 2000, the Ys series has had 9 entries, the Tales series has had 14, and the Atelier series has had … 21?!? Are you kidding me???
My ardent love for Skies of Arcadia is, without a doubt, wrapped up in nostalgia and the inevitable endearment one feels after spending dozens of hours with a game’s characters. But, that being said, SoA still has a strong cult following (at the time of this writing) 22 years after its release, despite there being no sequels or other media supporting it, and that doesn’t happen solely because of rose-tinted glasses (or eye patches).
Even by today’s standards, Skies of Arcadia has an impressive amount of depth and care put into a range of mechanics and narrative elements. One great example being the recruitable crew members you can find throughout the game: Narratively, these characters act as brief windows into the world and history of SoA and, once recruited, they appear in your base and ship and occasionally chime in on your actions and story events. Mechanically, the crew members modify or add to your available skills, ranging from making collectibles easier to find, increasing your ships stats for airship battles, and adding strength to a special attack you can use in regular combat.
Again, that’s a single example of Skies of Arcadia’s layered depth. The game approaches many of its other mechanics and side quests in similarly complex and interesting ways — character battles use different sub-mechanics than airship battles, collectibles act as world building and weapon powerups in addition to quest objectives, and optional boss fights contribute to character titles that feel like a proto-achievement system.
Despite the concession that spending a JRPG’s length of time with the world and characters of Skies of Arcadia makes me a bit biased, I still feel compelled to praise it. At a time where many games were projecting maturity by being grim and cynical, and JRPGs in particular had melancholy antiheroes and reluctant messiahs for their protagonists, SoA and its core heroes of Vyse, Aika, and Fina were unabashedly heroic and optimistic. The closest analogy in current media I can think of would be One Piece and the Strawhat crew. It felt refreshing then and, though we aren’t starved for that kind of energy in games now, I would certainly welcome more of the Blue Rogues hopeful positivity and heroism in the world today.
What I love(d) about Skies of Arcadia
• There are very short voice acting clips during dialog, like laughter and “Yeah!”, and combat, where the characters shout the name of their special attack like a shonen anime, and they’re all SO good. By which I mean they’re perfectly campy. I love them so much.
• SoA maintained a consistent sense of adventure and discovery from start to finish. Areas of its world open up to you steadily and they’re all distinct and feel lived in, and as you travel between destinations there are discoveries to make and airships to be fought.
• I buried the lead here, but, a repeated plot thread of SoA is battling kaiju with your sky pirate airships. If you don’t recognize that sentence as being fundamentally awesome, I don’t understand how you got this far into this review.
• SoA has a top notch soundtrack. Similar to scores by Hans Zimmer, John Williams, and Nobuo Uematsu, the composers for SoA (Yutaka Minobe and Tatsuyuki Maeda) repeatedly tap into ur-orchestrations of heroism and adventure.
• The protagonist trio, Vyse, Aika, and Fina, are just the bees knees. SoA plays at a love triangle, but the characterization never felt like it got further than depicting three friends that care deeply and fiercely for one another. (That said, I can certainly see a reading where the heroes are in a wholesome thruple.)
Why you might want to skip Skies of Arcadia
• The most consistent criticism of SoA in most reviews and retrospectives is its excessive random encounters. The criticism is well deserved, especially in the Dreamcast version, but it certainly doesn’t make either version of the game unplayable.
• SoA hasn’t been rereleased since the Gamecube port. The only way you can play it officially is finding a copy for Dreamcast or Gamecube. I’m not advocating emulation/piracy, but I am saying it’s the only way you can access the game easily.

I missed out on this one back in the day, though it remained in the back of my mind, a constant nag that I need to sit down and play it. A couple years ago I finally did just that, and having now completed Skies of Arcadia, I do feel like I slept way too long on a classic, perhaps one of the better JRPGs of its era. Which is why it's a little surprising to me that there are so few reviews for it here. Maybe I'm overestimating how popular Skies of Arcadia is, or (more likely) the series has been dormant for so long that everyone has long since moved on from discussing it. I don't know.
My usual bullshit of constantly checking my progress was thankfully averted with Arcadia. It's not that I don't give myself enough space to really enjoy a game, but especially with JRPGs (and other lengthy games) I start to feel the pressure to finish them as other games pile up in my backlog. I was far too comforted by Acadia's world to do this, and spent a lot of time just wandering around, exploring the various islands in the overworld and chatting it up with NPCs when I should've been tackling dungeons. Something about this game just puts me into a zone where I can't be bothered by anything else, and that's nice.
Of course, actually exploring dungeons and engaging in combat feels pretty good too. Arcadia isn't the most complex JRPG out there but it's as satisfying as it needs to be. I've seen some people say the game is very slow paced, but clearly that wasn't an issue for me, even if I think that's a valid point of criticism. Some battles can drag, but I was cool with it. I got to play as a sky pirate, what do I care if some of the sky battles are a little glacial when I'm caught up in the spectacle of it?
I've been meaning to play Skies of Arcadia Legends as well. Sure it's just a Gamecube port, but that means I can get it running on my CRT, and that's reason enough to go back and play this game. This is pretty much JRPG comfort food to me.