December 2, 2018

Dreamcast 20 #14: Skies of Arcadia

27 November 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games. This project's running behind, like much of this website, since we're at the actual anniversary and we're only up to game #14 in the countdown. Never mind - happy birthday to the Dreamcast.

No games console survives for long in Japan without some role-playing games (RPGs). Starting with Dragon Warriors and Final Fantasy on the Nintendo Famicom, they have always been a key part of a console's success - guaranteeing it hardware sales purely on the back of one or two key breakout titles. The Dreamcast didn't fare outrageously well when it came to RPGs, but it did manage a couple of highlights. One of them was definitely Skies of Arcadia.

The player controls the pirate Vyse, who captains a flying airship while fighting against a tyrannical empire. It was largely a quite traditional role-playing game, with turn-based combat sequences, and the player improving characters' abilities by gaining experience points from each battle. The traditional style of gameplay made Skies of Arcadia (Eternal Arcadia in Japan) a natural hit for Japanese players, but its English-language port was surprisingly successful as well. For fans of Japanese-style RPGs it's a pleasure - although to be fair it is a bit heavy with random monster encounters and fights.

Sadly, despite its enthused acclaim at the time, Skies of Arcadia has not enjoyed much in the way of success in subsequent years. A Gamecube port was released to moderate sales, but a promised PlayStation 2 edition was cancelled. Sega confirmed at one stage that a sequel was in development for new consoles, but was not ultimately produced. A HD re-release has been teased but has not to date appeared on any platform.

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