But it’s not all good sailing in the Skies of Arcadia. Since it is essentially a port a two-year old Dreamcast title, there’s no denying that the game looks dated. The characters lack any real detail and the backgrounds have a tendency of repeating more than you’d like. There are a lot of basic polygons that stick out, especially if your eyes have become accustomed to high res visuals. And if you are actually looking for an impressive cinema with tons of poly’s on screen at once, you best be looking elsewhere, because Skies of Arcadia has nothing like that.
The game also lacks any real voice acting, unless you consider Aika’s “Okay!” and Vyse’s “Uh Huh!” This may sound like a small concern, especially since only a few years ago you’d almost never hear real voices in a role-playing games, but nowadays it feels almost as if there’s something missing.
It doesn’t help matters that much of the written dialog is mind-numbingly dull. Filled with cliché characters painted with broad strokes, and back and forth dialog that doesn’t seem like it will ever end. There are entire paragraphs in the game that seemed so unrealistic, I doubted even a rambling lunatic at a mental hospital would say such silly quotes.
Dammit Bill! I said fill the tank with Helium, not Hydrogen!
Thankfully Skies of Arcadia isn’t all text driven cinemas, as it manages to offer up a good-sized helping of action. In fact, this adventure game offers not one, but two extremely distinct ways of getting rid of enemy forces. There’s the tradition, turn-based role-playing game play, that I could try to explain, but would just bore you because you’ve heard it a thousand times before.
It is the second way you dispose of your foes that is what sets this game apart from all the other next generation RPGs. Being as so much of the game has you traveling the world in a flying pirate ship, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are some epic boat fights with you manning the cannons, bombs, and anything else you can throw at them.
When you aren’t in the middle of a life or death battle, you have plenty of time to fly around the world looking for new and interesting areas, plant life, islands, and other oddities. You can actually chart undiscovered areas, and claim prizes for doing so. It’s this aspect that proves to be the most unique, and actually makes Skies of Arcadia Legends stand apart from the crowd.
The world of Arcadia is extremely massive in scale, and design. Throughout your journey you’ll bump into just about every kind of world you could think of, including an ice world, a land engulfed in fire, and even a really bad patch of tornadoes. Nothing especially revolutionary here, but it is all put together nicely. The game has a sense of exploration you just haven’t felt in the recent Final Fantasy chapters, or many of the other new role-playing games, for that matter.
There are a few downsides to flying around, though. The game tends to have some issues when it comes to random battles. While this is usually not a problem when you are in a dungeon or on land somewhere, the onslaught of these battles in the sky really started to weigh on my nerves. There are moments towards the end of the game where I couldn’t travel from one town to another without ten minutes worth of random fights.
The problem isn’t so much the random battles, as many role-playing games are victims of this. Instead it’s the types of enemies you tend to battle while flying over the worlds. Unlike most of the dungeons and land-based enemies, the baddies you fight while you are in the air tend to be dull and time consuming, and generally don’t reward you with much in the way of experience. It’s hard to level up fighting these characters, and most of the experience you need comes from doing the various dungeons. It would have been nice if there were a way to fly without the worry of these time consuming battles.
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