The sky’s the limit in ‘Arcadia Legends’

It’s been nearly seven years since Nintendo fans have gotten to play a truly enjoyable role-playing game in their system.

Sure, there was the so-so Paper Mario released on the Nintendo 64 way back in 1999. Then there was the decent, yet cliché-ridden Golden Sun for the GameBoy Advance in 2001.

But when are we going to get a grand, original, engrossing Nintendo RPG on par with the likes of Playstation’s Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy X? The answer is now.

Enter Skies of Arcadia Legends, a port of the Dreamcast game bearing the same name, minus the “Legends.” The story is the same. You are Vyse, a dashing young Air Pirate of the infamous Blue Rogues. Together with your two lovely female compatriots, Aika and Fina, you travel the skies of the world of Arcadia via airship to thwart the global domination plans of an evil empire.

Granted, it is not the most original videogame plot, but it is woven together so perfectly that you won’t care the slightest bit.

The first thing you’ll notice when you begin Skies of Arcadia Legends is that you have immediate access to an airship. This is unique since the airship is usually a vehicle you are given access to near the end of most RPGs.

Battles in this game are random. Characters learn magic through special gems called Moon Crystals. There are six colors of Moon Crystals in all. Each color represents a different element that when equipped on a weapon, will don that weapon with its attributes. This allows you to learn the stone’s specific spells gradually as you fight battles.

Of course, this being a game that revolves around airships, it wouldn’t be complete without ship battles. At certain points in the game, you’ll be forced to engage other flying ships in strategy-based battles. Periodically, you’ll be able to outfit your ship with cannons, torpedoes and stronger hull plating in order to pull off a victory. This can prove to be very challenging, yet fun.

In case you’re wondering if Skies of Arcadia Legends is a straight port of the Dreamcast original, the answer is yes and no. Legends contains the same story, characters and gameplay that the Dreamcast version had, but there are many new additions.

The most notable ones are more background info on the characters, a new mini-game that lets you hunt down wanted criminals for big cash rewards and a new sub-plot featuring a voluptuous female bounty hunter.

Legend’s graphics are dated. They are not at all ugly, but, despite Sega’s tweaking, the visuals fail to match that of most GameCube games. The random battles get to be a bit tedious as well. Once 20 hours into the game, you’ll find yourself using the same devastating attacks over and over again to easily wipe out all of your enemies in one strike.

All in all, however, if you have any uncertainties as to whether or not videogames could be works of art, play this game and relinquish your doubts. Skies of Arcadia Legends is a grand, beautiful, totally mesmerizing game that’ll keep you hooked for weeks.