All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Six of Fifty-Two

Skies of Arcadia

As much of a gamer as I am I often get bored of long games. Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City, Final Fantasy VII,IX and XII, Lost Odessey, Elder Scrolls Oblivion, even Ocarina of time - don't hit me! I enjoyed them, really enjoyed them, but after the first twenty hours I just got bored.
But once in a while a rare game with a great story, interesting characters and a brilliant premice comes along. Like Final Fantasy VIII before it and Fallout 3, the Dragon age series and the Mass Effect series since, Skies of Arcadia for the Dreamcast and Gamecube is one of those games.

The best part of this game is the story, so lets talk about that last.
Otherwise the game is a fairly standard JRPG. It throws you into the world and story and just lets you go. It doesn't hold your hand, it doesn't care if you're doing well and it doesn't make sure you win. Just like games should be.
The Battle system is pretty standard. The only difference to the usual select attack and it attacks is that in each round you select the attacks for all of your characters and when you click go all of your charracters and all of your enemies do their attacks. It makes it harder to react to other peoples movements, but it also makes it harder for them to do the same.
I think it works, but thats just my opinion.

World travel takes place entirely on your pirate ship, moving throughout the world, from island to island, civilisation to civilisation. most of the game takes place in dungeons of varying size and degrees. The only places in the game where you don't fight things in random battles are the towns, but even then you come across battles on occasion.

So the story, I would prefer that you played it and enjoyed it yourself but it took me 300 hours and it's a Gamecube/dreamcast game that's practically impossible to get a hold of (I still have my copy but no gamecube) so expect some spoilers;
The game is set in a world of floating islands - in air, not water - and flying boats. Thousands of years before the game began there were six civilisations, each under one of the six moons. Each one of these civilisations grew so powerful that they built great living weapons of destruction called the Gigas controlled by Moon Crystals and waged terrible wars amongst one another. The war risked the world itself, causing enormous environmental damage.
Eventually the Silver Civilisation used their Gigas to summon the Rains of destruction, pulling meteors from the orbitting moons down onto the planet, destroying the technologies of the world, setting them back centuries and disabling the Gigas.
The Silver Civilisation sealed away their Gigas to prevent the Rains from ever being used again and hid the Moon crystals away.

Cut to the present day the player finds themselved in control of Vyse, a Sky Pirate of the Blue Rogues - Air pirates that only attack armed vessels, particularly ships of the militant, tyranical Valuan Armada. At the begining Vyse is raiding a Valuan ship with his best friend Aika as a part of his fathers crew.
On this assault Vyse and Aika rescue Fina, a silver civilisation girl who is on a quest to find the Moon Crystals before the Valuan Empire can get them and use them to conquor the globe. Initially Fina is reluctant to trust Vyse and Aika - they are pirates, what do you expect - but after she is re-captured and then re-rescued by Vyse she lets them in on her mission and the protagonists agree to help her.

The rest of the game is a long quest to retrieve the moon crystals and destroy the Gigas, encountering many different people and civilisations along the way. The sheer variety of people and environments in the game is staggering considering it came out in 2000 for japan and 2002 in the US.

I'm not going to tell you the ending as there is a small chance you will play it (and if not you can wiki it) but I will say that the finale gave me that giddy feeling you get with really cool scenes. All the allied ships that the player had come across turn up in the final battle to aid Vyse, Aika and Fina in their attempt to stop the main bad guy, who turns out to be a member of Fina's faminly, her brother I believe.

All in all it's one of those awesome, epic tales that you just cant do justice to with description.

I absolutely loved the game from start to finish and if you CAN, you should play it.

- James

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