Ethos’ Relapse Part 3 – Skies of Arcadia

SkiesOfArcadia_LogoI was going to play Dragon Quest VIII here, but since I had more recently relapsed into Skies and since I like it more and it’s just a little less traditional, I decided to go with it instead.

While Skies has a traditional turn-based system and the leveling up and magic is fairly straight-forward, the game succeeds in making it all a ridiculous amount of fun. This is also a product of JRPG conventions with random battles, a search for crystals, and an adventure that takes our heroes across desert, water, forest, and ice. Not really original stuff, no, but Skies of Arcadia isn’t all cut and paste.

It’s really interesting returning to games like this that were among the first RPGs I ever played to realize that some things have still rarely done better. As Riddles has mentioned, JRPGs rely on menus, and Skies – as strange as it is to say – has really great menus. They’re attractive, fast, intuitive, and make all the “admin” stuff of a RPG a lot of fun. But other than making the menus and battle system streamlined and enjoyable, Skies also throws some unique things into the mix. Overworlds are nothing new to the genre, but being able to fly around an expansive sky in a floating boat is something that just didn’t exist before and hasn’t existed since. While most overworlds are boring and a welcome exclusion from newer RPGs, Skies actually makes it extremely fun to explore. The ships are a dream to control and the perfectly timed upgrades paired with discoveries make flying around the overworld a legitimate pastime. And just when you think gameplay is getting stale, the game gives you a new ship, a crew to control and customize, and a new strategy in battle tied to these new upgrades.

Still, 7 games into JRPG Relapse Week and the same themes seem to pop up, and they repeat the things people have been saying for years. Although I think this game is incredible, to enjoy it you have to be okay with random battles. You have to be okay with turn based battles systems, and you have to be okay with upgrading equipment and leveling up and navigating menus. It really seems to be a hefty condition list.

In any case, I’ve been enjoying this admittedly belated JRPG Relapse session, but there’s still one more to go!

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