20 May 2006

No year of August is complete without a few exploding heads!

This rant will be about Skies of Arcadia Legends, the remake -or rather, remastering- of the Dreamcast original Japanese RPG. To put it short: it's stellar. It has excellent graphic design, it's about pirates, it's got cinematic battles between giant armoured airships, it has grumpy old swashbucklers with metallic arms... I can not put this any more appealing.

It took a while for me to get used to the strange design of Japanese RPG's, because they require a massive investment in terms of time and take loads of quite repetitive random battles. You really need to sit down with these things and prepare for that sort of thing. The first game of this sort I played took the bullet and became the object of all my gripes with the genre. That game was obviously Final Fantasy 7. Do I apologize for that? Hell no; I've still got plenty of issues with that mediocre game even if I've come to terms with the once-maligned random battle system. And in any case, I'm a vindictive bastard and the game is just too much fun to poke at.

Right, Skies of Arcadia Legends. This game hits all the right buttons and switches. Come on, the game's main theme is literally the sense of adventure of a band of noble buccaneers! Great stuff. And coupled with excellent design (those airships are a sight to behold) and a vibrant atmosphere, there's much to love. What is also great is the consistency of the game. Every aspect of it feels rich and part of the same world, whether it is the exploring of temples, wandering around villages or zooming around the world with your flying vessel; everything clicks into each other. If I may make the tired comparison to the game from the previous paragraph, the many mini-games and different parts of that game feel not at all part of the same whole and produce a jarring effect. Skies of Arcadia's design then is much stronger.

But, really, let's not compare an adequate game at best with a beautiful gemstone like Skies of Arcadia. Of course I'm just messing around with the Final Fantasy Fans here; I don't mean to stress it all so seriously. But I didn't kid when I said that I've fallen for the wonderful esprit of Skies. In terms of atmosphere, it is something I've never beheld before. Such that I might consider it as one of my favourites on the Gamecube.

Yes. Let it be so. Until next time, when there may or may not be more heads awaiting messy destruction!