You might have seen a sleuth of Skies of Arcadia articles in Retro Gaming Mag this last week. If you didn’t, you should go and read them, because we looked at every aspect of the game we could think of. Skies of Arcadia is a game that holds up well to this day, and perhaps an analysis was due. Fans who played the game knew that while it wasn’t perfect, Eternal Arcadia (the game’s name in Japan) was one of the more unique Role Playing Games of that generation. Pirates versus ninjas are still a hotly debated topic, and this is a game which answers that they would would win against samurai in the least.
The Dreamcast might have been ill-fated from its arrival, but it’s because of Skies of Arcadia that I became a true RPG fan. I must have easily dedicated over a thousand hours of gameplay to the Dreamcast; the majority of those were probably replaying the game to the point where I think the constant loading of battles actually broke the Dreamcast lens. I didn’t regret it one bit, though, and when it was later ported to the GameCube, I went ballistic. But I didn’t buy… it wasn’t until 2012, when my wife got me a surprise present, that I finally had a chance to own it once more. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to get another opportunity at sailing the sky as a blue rogue.
What I discovered was that I really missed out by not playing the Legends version of Eternal Arcadia. Released in 2003, it was the closest we ever got to another game in the series and added plenty of hours of replay. While the graphical differences weren’t too much, the reduced random battles added a moon fish sidequest that explained some much needed backstory, and plenty of discoveries to be made. It made an already expansive game even larger and it was the true definitive version of Skies of Arcadia. While it had a noticeable lack of Pinta’s Quests, a mini-game for the VMU, and a lesser sound quality, it was a sacrifice made in order to fit the game on one disc.
I’m sure Nintendo could have figured something out with the Game Boy Advance connectivity to make the game playable, but Nintendo or Overworks refused. Yet, it held up well and it showed how ahead of its time Eternal Arcadia was. Nowadays, we have more variety in our RPG characters with games like Hyperdimension Neptunia showing us that they can be fun with a silly cast and Final Fantasy XV taking us on a Japanese boyband quest. But Vyse still holds a special place in my heart: he was a trendsetter outside and inside of Skies of Arcadia, and the developers broke the mold when they made him.
I’ll say it one final time, if you ever want to play a Fantastic, but underappreciated RPG of the 2000s, look no further than Skies of Arcadia. It might be cliche, but the game is completely worth the investment, especially if you own a GameCube and buy it online.