|Skies of Arcadia|
|Release dates||JP October 5, 2000|
NA November 13, 2000
EU April 27, 2001
|Rating||CERO: All ages|
|Media||2 × GD-ROMs|
Skies of Arcadia, released in Japan as Eternal Arcadia (エターナルアルカディア , Etānaru Arukadia), is a console role-playing game developed by Overworks for the Dreamcast and published by Sega in 2000. It was later remade on the Nintendo GameCube as Skies of Arcadia Legends.
A majority of the gameplay in Skies of Arcadia takes place in dungeons. By controlling the protagonist, Vyse, from a third-person view, players must traverse and defeat these dungeons in order to advance the storyline. Dungeons comprise of a network of pathways with treasure chests, puzzles, and ubiquitous monsters. Completing the dungeons is usually a matter of exploring every possible pathway until the correct pathway can be found. Treasure chests are commonplace and contain some of the most powerful items in the game. Throughout the dungeon gameplay, the player meets compulsory random encounters. If the entire player party is defeated, progress is reset to the beginning of the dungeon. In the Dreamcast version, it was possible to slightly foresee these random encounters by noticing a loud spin-up of the console's GD-ROM drive. This gave the player time to open the start menu and prepare for the battle.
Travel between the numerous dungeons is accomplished by piloting an airship through the overworld. The overworld appears as a three dimensional sky with massive floating rocks forming islands and continents. Some islands are completely uninhabited, while others are filled with sprawling towns and cities. All dungeons are located on these islands and continents, with the exception of a dungeon that is traversed whilst piloting the airship.This form of dungeon contains floating spherical objects instead of treasure chests, and vortex-like tunnels in place of corridors and doors in one case, and a single series of tunnels in the other.
Overworld travel takes place entirely on the player's airship. The world is at first divided by impassable "sky rifts" which bar the player's passage. Throughout overworld travel, unavoidable random encounters occur as in the dungeons. These battles take place on the deck of the airship and are otherwise identical to their dungeon-based counterparts. Later in the game, however, an advanced mechanism is discovered for the player's ship which allows it to rise above the upper cloud layer and sink below the lower cloud layer of Arcadia, presenting two ways to avoid these encounters, and also provides the player the means to pass through sky rifts. In addition, ship-to-ship combat can occur whilst traveling through the overworld; however, the majority of these are unavoidable boss fights which advance the storyline. Random ship-to-ship battles can occur, but they are rare and avoidable.
Main Article: Discoveries
The player can also find Discoveries hidden throughout the world while flying their airship. Information about discoveries can be sold at Sailor's Guilds located in cities throughout the game; the value of a discovery is determined by how well-hidden it is and how much time has elapsed since it was possible to find. When finding a new land, a discovery is recorded automatically, as these Discoveries are part of the storyline.
Combat occurs frequently, especially during the overworld travel. It is not until late in the game that it becomes possible to avoid combat during overworld travel. Combat comprises two vastly different settings: those encountered in ship to ship combat, and character to monster combat. Ship to ship combat occurs relatively rarely compared to the common character-combat. This encounter rate was reduced for the GameCube re-release.
Character combat occurs between one to four player characters and one to eight monsters or NPC's. Combat comprises seven main options: Run, Items (which can be used to change the characters' equipment as well), Guard, Attack, S.Move (Super Move), Magic and Focus. An eighth option, Crew Special, becomes available later in the game by meeting certain criteria (which replaces the Run command). After an action has been chosen for each character, the round will commence.
Main Article: Ship Battle
Ship combat is used when battling other ships and the extremely powerful gigas that are summoned throughout the game. Ship combat follows the same framework as character combat, however there are a few distinct differences. Each round in ship combat is divided into either three or four turns depending on how many characters are currently in the party. During each round, neither team has more than a single turn advantage over the opposition. Ship battles use a color-coded grid system to show each turn in the following two rounds, and the amount of fire the ship will come under during each turn.The green means there is no advantage on either side or the enemy is not going to attack.Yellow means the enemy will fire a cannon.Red means the enemy will fire something strong or has an advantage.Finally, C! means critical hit chance.
The same actions used in character combat are used here, albeit with small differences. The 'Attack' option now has the player pick between four different cannons that have been equipped to the ship. Cannons come in three different types - powerful main cannons, multi-firing secondary cannons, and delayed-effect torpedoes - and each one can only be used once per round. This same stipulation carries over to the S. Move command, which now uses a large, front-mounted cannon. In addition to the standard actions, the ship's crew can be called upon by one of the characters in the party. Whilst each of these can only be used once in each ship battle, the diversity and power of the crew's abilities can be very useful.
Pinta's Quest: The VMU Minigame
Much like the PocketStation game Chocobo World included in Final Fantasy VIII, Skies of Arcadia included a mini-RPG for the VMU, called Pinta's Quest. The game can be downloaded after the player reaches Sailor's Isle and talks to Pinta, a young boy who expresses a wish to sail all over the world and discover things.
Pinta's Quest is essentially a miniature RPG based entirely on random encounters, and any items and money gained within the minigame can be loaded into the main game inventory. Pinta's Quest was not included in Skies of Arcadia Legends.
The story opens with a young Silvite woman named Fina sailing through the night skies in her tiny Silver airship. Not far behind her, Valuan Admiral Alfonso is in hot pursuit under orders from Lord Galcian to capture her. Alfonso opens fire on and disables Fina's ship long enough to capture her before it plummets into Deep Sky, but just as she is being brought onboard his warship, a Blue Rogue vessel arrives with the intent of robbing the Valuan vessel. Vyse and Aika of the Blue Rogues jump from the Albatross onto Alfonso's flagship and fight their way to the rear cargo hold, prompting Alfonso to flee on a lifeboat while leaving Fina behind along with the war beast Antonio, who is quickly defeated by the Rogues. Vyse and Aika bring Fina back to their clan's ship, which Vyse pilots back to their secret hideout, Pirate Island (disguised as a small village).
While watching the sunset, Vyse and Aika see a Moonstone fall from the skies onto nearby Shrine Island. The next day they travel to Shrine Island to retrieve the Moonstone, a concentrated form of airship fuel, leaving Fina behind in the care of their clan. After recovering the moonstone, Vyse and Aika return to Pirate Island to find it obliterated by the Valuan Armada. Fina, Dyne, and his crew have been captured by the Armada and taken to the capital city, with the Albatross destroyed. What starts as a simple rescue mission becomes a struggle for survival amid a looming world war.
Shortly after leaving Pirate Island, Vyse and Aika are shipwrecked by the legendary arcwhale Rhaknam. They are rescued by a callous but good-hearted fisherman named Drachma, who is hunting Rhaknam. They manage to convince Drachma to take them to Valua City and rescue their friends from death row, luring him with the prospect of a powerful "Harpoon Cannon" that is to be found in Valua. Upon going through the catacombs of lower city, saving the Blue Rogues, rescuing Fina from a rail car, and making a miraculous escape from the Grand Fortress (a history-making feat), the Blue Rogues return to Pirate Island, where Fina admits the real reason that the Empire would go to such trouble to capture her.
Fina's mission is to travel Arcadia in search of the Six Moon Crystals, the purest form of moonstones, which can be used to summon living weapons called the Gigas. Created by the Old World, these weapons are very powerful and, with all 6, Valua could control the world, with the threat of unleashing the Gigas to help them. Because of this, Fina is to recover all 6 moon crystals before Valua gains control of them. Fina recruits Vyse and Aika to her cause and together they set off to find the Red moon crystal.
After traveling to the port city of Maramba, Drachma leaves them there to acquire the Crystal while Drachma, again, leaves to find Rhaknam. There the party meets a young dancer named Belleza, who loans them a ship to get to the Temple of Prynn. After recovering the Red Crystal, Belleza reveals that she is actually the commander of the 4th fleet of the Valuan armada, steals the Red Crystal, and awakens the Red Gigas, Recumen. Luckily, the Little Jack arrives just in time to rescue Vyse, Aika and Fina. The party then tries to fight the Gigas, but their attacks are to no avail. Instead, they attack Belleza's ship and convince her to call off the Gigas.
After the fight, the Little Jack acquires the Magic Cannon (allows the ship to shoot spells such as Pyri, Crystales, etc.) and a new engine that allows the Little Jack to cross the South Ocean into the land of the Green Moon, I'xa Taka. The crew then learns that the Green Crystal lies within the Lost City of Rixis. They then head to the Hortekan King's Hideout to find more about the city, but is interrupted by Admiral De Loco, who is burning the forest to look for the Lost City. After defeating him, the crew heads to Moonstone Mountain to rescue one of the High Priests. After escaping Alfonzo and Antonio II, they eventually find Rixis, but the crystal had been stolen by the king and used to awaken the Green Gigas, Grendal, to drive the Valuans away from I'xa Taka. Finally, they manage to lure Grendal into a chasm and recover the Green Crystal.
Next, Vyse heads to Valua to recover the Yellow Crystal. Unfortunately, the gate is sealed and Ramirez, the 6th Admiral of the Armada and somehow close to Fina because of her knowledge about him, ambushes the Little Jack. They manage to escape, but Rhaknam is found and Drachma is bound to catch him. Then, Ramirez's flagship attacks the Little Jack, and sets it on fire. Vyse, Aika, and Fina manage to escape on lifeboats, but are blasted off course. Drachma, however, remained on the ship, now attached to Rhaknam via the Harpoon Cannon. Vyse lands on a deserted isle, while Aika and Fina are rescued by an Air Pirate named Clara and dropped off in Nasrad, the capital of Nasr. Both parties find halves of a map leading to Daccat's Isle, where it is rumored that all treasures of the legendary Air Pirate, Daccat, lie. Vyse, now accompanied by another rogue named Gilder, head to Daccat's Isle, while Aika and Fina go there also, but they land on different sides of it. After the two groups find each other and escape the island, they head back to Nasrad to find it destroyed by the Armada. Then, they are captured yet again by Ramirez into the Grand Fortress.
The party then defeats Admiral Vigoro and escapes to the harbor, but luckily Prince Enrique, troubled by his mother's corruption, hands over his flagship, the Delphinus, to the party. Then they blast a hole in the Grand Fortress itself with the all-powerful Moon Stone Cannon. They then head back to the deserted isle, which is actually named Crescent Isle. They then meet a few men who promise to both construct a base there and create improvements to the Delphinus, which allow it to pass through stone reefs and sky rifts. They then set out to the lands of the Blue Moon, but is impassable because of a large sky rift called the Dark Rift. After battling with the 2nd admiral, Gregorio, they find a hole in it and pass through it into Yafutoma, which resembles a mix of Japanese and Chinese culture. The party then ventures into the great mountain and recover the Blue Crystal, but are betrayed by the king's brother. They then escape to Tenkou Island and recover both the Delphinus and the Blue Crystal, and also defeat the Blue Gigas. They also get a scroll, which when built by Braham, will allow the Delphinus to fly much higher and lower. Also, they discover that the world is round by flying east of Yafutoma and ending up into I'xa Taka.
They then take a tour of their newly constructed base and then go to the Lands of Ice, in the far south. They then, after navigating the lost city of Glacia, they discover that Rhaknam is the Purple Gigas, and find Drachma and the Little Jack there too. Rhaknam then dies, but gives off the Purple Crystal too.
Finally, with their new engine, go below Valua and sneak through tunnels to the Yellow Gigas, Yeligar. After waking the Gigas up, the Delphinus then fights it and retrieves the Yellow Crystal from its corpse. With the five Crystals in hand, the party then travels to Dangral Island and recovers yet another engine upgrade to allow the Delphinus to travel into Deep Sky. They then travel below the clouds and recover Fina's ship, which is capable of reaching Fina's home, the Great Silver Shrine. They then head back to Crescent Isle, but are attacked by Ramirez. He then takes the 5 crystals and leaves them. The party then travels to the Great Silver Shrine to warn the Silvite Elders. Vyse, Aika, and Fina then know the truth about Arcadia, and how the Silvites used their Gigas, Zelos, to call down the Rains of Destruction, and then make a magical seal around Zelos and send Soltis into Deep Sky, which also can be seen when heading down to Deep Sky. The 6 crystals combined could break the seal and allow the owner of the Crystals to call down the Rains at will. Then, Ramirez and Galcian arrive and murder Elder Prime. They then gain the Silver Crystal since a piece is hidden in every Silvite, and 1 piece will suffice for the Crystal. Finally, Galcian and Ramirez raise Soltis and create an impenetrable shield around it, blocking access. Then, Ramirez unleashes the Rains on Valua, completely destroying it but allowing Enrique to escape.
Upon returning to Crescent Isle, many of Vyse's friends and foes turn up, including Baltor, Gordo, the Yafutoman Navy, Dyne, Drachma, Gilder, Belleza, and Clara, plus more arrive and assemble a fleet to combat Galcian's forces. The Delphinus then attacks Galcian's airbase, the Hydra, and boards it. They fight Galcian, but he escapes in the Bridge. Then, Belleza sacrifices her and her ship to ram into Galcian and kill him. With the shield still up, the Great Silver Shrine then plummets to Arcadia and rams into the Shield, disabling it to repent their sin of creating the Rains. The party then goes into Soltis to stop Ramirez. Vyse, Aika, and Fina then fight Ramirez, but he sacrifices himself, believing that the party murdered Galcian, to awaken Zelos to its full form. The Delphinus then engages the Gigas and destroys it before it can become invulnerable. Finally, the party fights Ramirez again, merged with Zelos. They then return to Crescent Isle, with Soltis back in Deep Sky. The trio then become fully fledged Air Pirates with Vyse commanding a new ship as they sail off into the sky.
Throughout the game the protagonist, Vyse, is the character that is actually controlled by the player. Vyse and Aika, the female lead, are permanent members of a four character party. At various stages, the player can pick up one, and only one, of the secondary characters. At some points the player has a choice which of these to use, but often it is compulsory for the party to contain a certain secondary character. A short way through the game, Fina changes from a storyline-only role to a playable character and a permanent member.
At one point in the game the four character party is split in two, with Vyse and Gilder, and Aika and Fina being the pairs. This part of the game presents an unusual challenge as the various strengths and weaknesses of the characters are unable to complement each other. The two primary damage dealing characters (Vyse and Gilder) are paired together, with little magical ability, and the two primary magic characters (Aika and Fina) are paired, with little damage ability.
At various stages in the game Gilder, Drachma and Enrique are added and removed from the character pool. This is usually done forcibly, however near the end of the game the player can choose which of the three characters to use for the final moments of the game.
Main Playable Characters
- Vyse: A Blue Rogue, Vyse has an upbeat, optimistic personality and refuses to give up. Sometimes, he is the one who keeps the entire party's spirit up. He is also the character the player controls when not in battle. Vyse fights with twin cutlasses, one primarily used in offense and one for defense.
- Aika: Vyse's close friend since childhood and fellow Blue Rogue. Aika has a strong personality and an easily inflamed temper, yet has weaknesses such as obsession with treasure and fear of swimming. She also was orphaned at an early age, and was cared for by Vyse's family. Aika fights using an oversized boomerang. She also happens to be left-handed.
- Fina: Fina is a "Silvite" (survivor of the ancient, defunct Silver Civilization). Fina is sweet-natured and demure, but hides an iron will. Fina's pet, a silver ball-like creature named Cupil, fights for her. Cupil can morph into various shapes, and gains power by eating Chams, Moon Stone shards that are hidden throughout the game. His most powerful form is Final Cupil, although it required a download in the Dreamcast version in order to get the final cham. When not in battle, Cupil takes the form of a bracelet that Fina wears.
Secondary Playable Characters
- Drachma: A 55 year old maimed man, Drachma lost his right arm, eye, and son whilst fighting the giant arcwhale Rhaknam. He now has a mechanical right arm which he uses as a weapon during battle. His obsession with hunting Rhaknam leads him to search the skies. Drachma is the captain of the small fishing airship, Little Jack. He travels with Vyse and the others for part of the game, and pretends not to care about them, but he shows up just in time to save them quite a few times. With his artificial limb and vendetta against a strangely colored, deformed whale, he seems to be based on Captain Ahab in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick.
- Gilder: A rakishly handsome 32 year old man, Gilder wears a pince-nez and uses pistols as his weapons. Gilder is the captain of the light, swift pirate vessel Claudia. He has a parrot named Willy, who can be helpful when Gilder needs to break out of jail cells. He is a very laid-back individual, and loves good times and women. However, he seems to be constantly looking over his shoulder and running away from Clara, a Blue Rogue obsessed with Gilder.
- Enrique: At 25 years old, Enrique is the crown prince of the Valuan Empire, but disagrees strongly with the imperialist policies of his mother, Empress Teodora I. The name of his father is unknown. Enrique uses rapiers as his weapon in battle. He joins the party and gives Vyse his flagship, the Delphinus, when he escapes Valua with Vyse, Aika, Fina, and Gilder. His frank nobility and chivalry are in direct opposition to the attitudes of most of the higher Valuans, and it is his infectious goodness that ends up saving the entire party later on.
The Blue Rogues' sworn enemy, the Valuan Empire, continually hunts Vyse and Aika throughout the game. The Valuan Empire is ruled politically by the Empress Teodora I, but the real military power lies with the Lord Admiral Galcian. Galcian's five deputies - Alfonso (First Admiral), Gregorio(Second Admiral), Vigoro(Third Admiral), Belleza(Fourth Admiral), and De Loco (Fifth Admiral) - each have a distinct personality, personified by their highly unique flagships. Amongst themselves they are each silently competing for promotion at the expense of the others, especially Alfonso, who thinks he should be Lord Admiral instead of Galcian. Galcian's Vice-Captain Ramirez later becomes the Sixth Admiral of the Valuan Armada and has a mysterious connection to Fina.
In addition, a significant number of lesser adversaries confront the player throughout the game. These are mostly 'Black Pirates,' a faction of unscrupulous criminals who lack the Blue Rogues' self-restraint and hence have earned the Rogues' attention. Notable Black Pirates include Captain Baltor, a bandit from Nasr airspace who pursues a small vendetta against Vyse, and Gordo the Round, an obese pirate whose plundering is driven by his lust for unique food. In the Legends, The Gamecube release, several more of these Black Pirates appear and can be hunted for bounty rewards, including a trio of criminals who resemble Vyse, Aika and Fina in appearance and poison Vyse's reputation unless defeated during an optional sidequest.
Skies of Arcadia was involved in two crossovers with various Sonic the Hedgehog media. These included characters and elements from the series appearing in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and in the Archie Comics Sonic titles. Vyse appeared solo in Sonic Universe #45, an adapt of All-Stars Racing Transformed, while Arcadia and others of its inhabitants would join in Worlds Unite.