Skies of Arcadia
Reviewed: 02/23/2003


You may often hear the phrase “few and far between” to describe releases of certain great games. With Skies of Arcadia, it’s more like “Once in a lifetime.”

The setting places you in a world of air. Just air. The only landmasses are islands scattered around the world. Naturally, this calls for an airship. Perfectly fitting for an air pirate such as our hero, Vyse! You take Vyse and his air pirate friends all over the world on a super-unique RPG quest. You even gain the ability to customize a ship, base, and crew of your own made up of people you meet in SoA’s gorgeous world.

Sceen Shot
Every air pirate’s gotta have a signature pose.

So what is this quest I spoke of? What starts out as a good, clean adventure eventually turns into your classic “Evil Empire vs. Young Renegades” plot. Don’t let that turn you off, because SoA’s version of this concept can dance with the best of ’em! There is good execution, memorable characters, and nice twists to move this story along. No flaws in that department.

You can’t have an RPG without battles, and this game AGAIN steps up to represent. There are two battle systems present: hand-to-hand and ship-to-ship. Both are amazingly well done. The land combat has what you’d expect: Attacks, defenses, magic, and special abilities. But where is throws you a curveball is that your all spells will only cost 1 m.p. “Wow,” you say, “I can slaughter the enemy!” Sit down, Jimmy. Your party has a collective “spirit pool.” Spells and Super Moves will all consume a given amount of Spirit Points, which gives these battles a very unique element of strategy. System #2 is the airship combat. You can take different, situational strategies, and even give your crew commands (once you obtain a crew). You can equip your powerhouse with a slew of different cannons, armor, accessories, and torpedoes, making for much customization. The ship battles are hard to describe without actually SEEING them yourself, so I’ll save the space and just say that they may be a bit long sometimes, but they rock.

You also can’t have an RPG (at least not a good one) without an occasional option of how to respond to questions and comments. Arcadia‘s approach to this element rewards the best answers with a “swashbuckler rating.” The more of the optimum (meaning heroic-themed or noble, good-guy-esque) choices you make, the higher your rank will get. This can sometimes affect the way people react to your presence, and other such neat things.

I’m a fan of a solid overworld, and Skies of Arcadia‘s is one of the best I’ve ever “been in.” Being set in a beautiful sky, how could you go wrong? The graphics here are just marvelous. Just looking at them, you get the satisfied feeling that the art director achieved what he was trying for.

I could easily take up pages and pages with an all-aspect-inclusive review of this instant classic, but long reviews just get boring. Suffice it to say that Skies of Arcadia brings more to the table than the majority of other RPG’s, across all systems. You could say that this game has it all: solid gameplay, unique dungeons, interesting towns, cool battles, memorable characters, good music, and two very lovely female companions! With all that and more, Skies of Arcadia is staring perfection right in the face….

-Heath Hindman

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Excellent
Story Excellent
Graphics Excellent
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Great
The Verdict: 10