JRPG Recommendations: Skies Of Arcadia
With Final Fantasy XV being delayed two months each week here at Entertainment Buddha I will give you a different great JRPG that maybe you had missed in the past. These games vary from how well known they are–some being completely unheard of–to others being quite common. Also each of these games are ones that I have played extensively so if there is a game you want to see covered let me know in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to shed some light on that game.
For the first entry I want to talk about one of my favorite games of all time, Skies Of Arcadia, more specifically the Game Cube version which was an enhanced port called Legends.
Skies Of Arcadia was created by Sega and originally a Dreamcast exclusive but after it became clear to Sega that they no longer had a foot in the console race they decided to put some of their more successful games on the other consoles. The Gamecube port had quite a bit of added content including several new side quests like the moon fish hunt, a sort of free roaming side boss that can be fought on several occasions, and additional crew members. One of the thing that makes the Legends version superior is the reduced encounters. On the Dreamcast the encounter rate was legendarily high and many fans complained, so in the remake they reduced it about 50%. It doesn’t mean you can’t grind if you want to but it makes solving puzzles inside dungeons much less of a test of patients.
Skies Of Arcadia’s story while solid does rely on some tropes. Like finding elemental macguffins before the bad guy does, getting in over your head when all you want to do is live your life and plunder booty, and a magical mysterious girl with a secret past. What makes the story good however is the characters themselves. Vyse is a daring sky pirate whose goal is to become the best in the world. Aika his childhood friend whose tragic past makes her “can do” attitude all the more admirable, the aforementioned Fina whose past is shrouded in mystery but holds a special power that the evil Valuan empire so desperately seeks.
Skies Of Arcadia’s main cast and additional party members are not the only ones with personality and lore. Later in the game you can start recruiting people to join your crew and assist you on your journey. Some might make your ship faster, some might unlock rare items, and a few might just save your skin in a really tight ship battle.
Oh did I forget to mention there are amazing ship battles in this game because there are! The ship battles play out different from the majority of your standard turn based combat. Your ship can build up AP like normal but instead of just using attacks or spells you can use these points to position your ship behind an enemy giving you an advantage. Or maybe you should save them up to launch your super weapon. You sometimes will need to save up points because enemy ships can launch their own devastating skills that when successful could turn a major lead to a sudden defeat. Although, it’s never unfair because each combatant has their own tells. For example, one ship captain might halt their engines or try to flank you signaling they are going to use their skill. Stopping each attack also requires a different strategy you might need to simply move out of they way, or blast the ship at a certain time to interrupt the attack. You will learn these patterns as you play and even if you should lose more often then not you can jump right back into battle and try again with a better understanding of what to do. Besides all out warfare you can also buff out your ship with new weapons, engines and other upgrades to make you the deadliest ship in the sky.
I know I focused very heavily on the ship aspect but it’s part of what makes me love this game so damn much, while you can skip 75% of the ship battles you won’t want to as they are so much fun. Another thing that makes the game so great is the free roaming aspect. You travel the skies landing on floating islands to visit dungeons and towns alike but also in the sky are other ships, and hidden locations. These ships could be merchants, npc’s, quests, or the previously talked about ship battles. Most of the time you can tell who and what they are by the mast they fly but occasionally you can be taken by surprise. The hidden locations are a huge part of the game too, because each time you find a hidden location you can turn the info into a guild which will pay you handsomely for the info. But you better move fast as other adventures can also find locations and claim the reward for themselves. These battles and locations don’t just serve as ways to get money and XP, it goes to changing your title. Each time you hit a certain feat like finding all the locations, claiming all the pirate bounties, or even by not doing some of these things your rank changes, with the ultimate goal of becoming Vyse The legend.
Skies Of Arcadia is fairly difficult to find, and when you do find it more often then not it will run you close to 80 dollars used. Amazon at the time of writing is selling it new for 178 bucks so if you can find it for 50 and under grab it and trust me you wont be disappointed. The games length does very depending on how much you want to do but for competitions it could easily absorb 60 or more hours.
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