Before Valkyria Chronicles graced the PlayStation 3, Overworks (later known as Sega WOW) had developed a unique, little gem for the Sega Dreamcast titled Skies of Arcadia. They were also responsible for Shinobi, which was originally to be released for the Sega Dreamcast but found its way to the PS2 instead. Sometime later, Overworks made the smart decision of not only porting Skies of Arcadia to the Nintendo GameCube but adding additional content.
Thus, Skies of Arcadia Legends was born. The sound quality is said to be a little lower than the original (although I really believe it’s something most people won’t notice) and the loading times and game saves are shorter. The character models are also more clearly defined. Of course there’s more to a game than its visuals.
Skies of Arcadia Legends puts you in the role of Vyse, a young but brave and optimistic air pirate sailing the skies with his fellow Blue Rogues - air pirates who, unlike the Black Pirates and ruling Valuan Empire, only attack airships larger than their own that prey on the weak. During one particular raid of a Valuan Armada battleship, Vyse and childhood friend, Aika, rescue a mysterious girl, Fina, whom they later take back to their base of operations on Pirate Isle. What follows is a grand adventure filled with twists and turns at every corner. Suffice it to say, it’s an unforgettable adventure.
Gameplay is pretty similar to most JRPGs where you traverse an overworld map and fight enemies in turn-based battles using weapons and magic. A major part of the battles is in the form of a bar towards the top of the screen that accumulates Spirit Points (SP) which allow you to pull off Super Moves for each individual character. Crew Special Moves are moves where your entire party bands together to attack on the same turn. You’ll want to unlock more powerful Super Moves by obtaining moonberries. Especially considering how some boss battles can feel repetitive or cheap with their magic spells. It’s also worth noting how the music changes its tune during battles to reflect the near-death situation of a party member.
Doc and Maria are one of the many interesting characters you'll meet on your adventure.
Where the game really sets itself apart from other games in its genre is the inclusion of airship battles. Admittedly, these aren’t as common as random battles. Most of them you’ll experience at different points in the story although if you find the airship of a Black Pirate, Valuan captain or giant monster flying around, you’ll trigger an airship battle. You can also upgrade your airship, much like your party members, to increase your chances of coming out victorious.
You're not fighting this guy on foot, that's for sure.
At a certain point in the game’s story, you’ll command your own airship (bigger than the one pictured above), form a larger crew with Aika and Fina (22 crew members overall) and customize your own base of operations. Don’t get me wrong - you’ll have a lot of fun throughout the game - but this is when the world starts opening up to you. In fact, I don’t recall many JRPGs really giving you the freedom to build your own legacy.
Speaking of which, one additional gameplay content that the Legends port has over the original is the Sailor Guild’s Wanted List. Eight very challenging but ultimately rewarding boss battles spread throughout Arcadia. You can also make Discoveries (finding different landmarks, hidden villages and secrets) and complete a sidequest with a new, original foe that ties into Vyse’s past. On my first playthrough, I logged a total of 70 hours doing everything!
It also helps that the Jules Verne-inspired fantasy world of floating islands and continents is so diverse and interesting. Regardless of how realistic video games have become over the years, I’ll always remember exploring the world of Arcadia. Just to name a few; Glacia, buried within the Lands of Ice, the Temple of Pyrynn, a large pyramid rising out of the Nasr Desert, or even the simple lonely town of Esparanza, not too far from the infamous Dark Rift.
Pictured above, Aika (left), Fina (center) and Vyse (right).
Whether you’re looking to get into JRPGs or are already a fan of said genre, I would highly recommend picking up Skies of Arcadia Legends for the Nintendo GameCube. Hopefully the recent trademark renewal from Sega is an indication of a potential sequel, if not another port of the original (to the PSN or XBLA platforms).
+ Entertaining story with plenty of twists
+ Huge, diverse world to explore
+ Colorful cast of characters
+ Unique gameplay mechanics
+ Faster load times, saves, and fewer random battles
- Lessened sound quality
- Some boss battles might feel repetitive or cheap
Final score: 9.25/10
You'll shed a tear before you even start the game! It's so beautiful.
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[Nintendo GameCube] Skies of Arcadia Legends
Damn dude, nice! I do hope the original comes to PSN or live. I never got around to it when I owned my gamecube.
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Good review bro ill have to check craigslist and see if I can get the game. I maybe doing a gamecube paper mario game soon as well I'm working on a few currently.
Mr Black! Awesome! I hope you enjoy the ultimate feeling of being a Single Cell Organism! Haha I needto ask Mr spyrde to make anew banner thingie for the GC.
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Blacksite you have did it again friend
Awsome work and well done on the review... You really know your stuff and i have never played this game and i am shocked i walked away from this, when i was buying GameCube games in the past
I have a GameCube and i am going to get this some how and relive the good old days
Last edited by claud3; 01-08-2013 at 18:57.Plato and Aristotle, a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge
Good review. I'm a huge fan boy of this game as you already know
Would like to add that this game has a villain that rivals Sephiroth and I'm talking about Ramirez One of my all time fave villains
The only negative I can think of for this game is the battle frequency as it became slightly irritating in the second half of the game with what felt like a battle every 5 seconds. On the dream cast version you could hear the disc spinning faster as it prepared the battle where you could anticipate it and pause the game to skip it or something (there was a method, just can't remember it precisely because it's been so long) XD
Okay, this review has me interested. I have two, GameCubes laying around but the game is worth the equivalent of a full retail release game..
Good review, going to order this on friday when I get paid.
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It's been a while since I've played this game. I have to get another copy of this. Would you know where I can find it?
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