I would like to introduce a new series of articles entitled The Vault, which features the very best games that should be in anybody's collection, starting this week with Skies of Arcadia, one of my favourite games for the Dreamcast and without doubt my favourite RPG of all time. In this game you play the part of Vyse, an aspiring sky pirate who comes to the rescue of a girl named Fina who has come down from the sky. The two set out along with Vyse's best friend Aika and a range of other supporting characters on a quest to stop the Valuan Empire from acquiring and abusing the power of the moonstones and waking the mighty Gigas (huge mechanised monsters) to do their bidding.
During the game you will take part in random battles that are fairly standard for Japanese RPG's as well as some truly epic ship to ship and ship to Gigas battles. Your ship is often dwarfed by the Gigas and it's up to you to figure out a weakness and exploit it in order to stop them.
One of the things I like about the game is that it's bright and bubbly all the time - the graphics are colourful, the main characters are cheerful and always have positive outlook, and the game remains fun to play all the way through unlike some of the Final Fantasy games where the main characters are often angst-ridden teens who quite frankly deserve a good slap.
The graphics may look a little angular and dated in today's high definition world but the game more than makes up for this with the gameplay. The game should take a solid 40 hours or so to complete the main quest, and then there optional challenges for you to take on if you decide to, such as finding all of the discoveries in the world or getting new crew members for your ship which opens new abilities in battles..
If you don't have a Dreamcast or are finding that version hard to track down then you could try Skies of Arcadia Legends for the Gamecube. This version has some extra side quests such as bounties, but in order to squeeze the game onto the two tiny GC discs some of the sound quality is lost which is a shame because the music is another one of the games strong points. It also naturally lacks the VMU based mini game Pinta's Quest. Personally I prefer the Dreamcast original.
Join me again next time when a Gamecube title will get it's turn in the spotlight.
The graphics may look a little angular compared to modern titles, but they still have a lot of charm.