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Skies of Arcadia
  opened by paleface at 21:09:34 01/29/05  
  paleface [sys=DC; cat=Role_Playing; loc=NA]
It's been years since I finished this but, as with most RPGs, it's highly unlikely that I'll ever go back and play it again since I've already seen the ending, so I may as well scribble down what impressions I still have kicking around in my head.
Well, I enjoyed it. I was a little hesitant to start it as I'd read that the random encounters were much too frequent, but I didn't find this to be the case--although it was nice to get an item that reduced them near the end of the game, so I could just cruise the skies freely.
The game is really pretty. Floating islands and pirate ships in the sky is a brilliant setting for adventure, and the designers really made the most of it with all kinds of exotic locations and scenery. You do a lot of travelling across those skies, and sometimes the physical divisions between areas/chapters seem as arbitrary as they really are, but for the most part the world is beautiful and fascinating.
I was a bit less thrilled by the monster designs--for instance, you encounter so many silly-looking plant/bird creatures that you quickly cease caring what they are, just because they're so weird and pointless.
The playable characters and NPCs, fortunately, are much more interesting, and you really do get pulled into their story, which is well told and manages to be less trite and hackneyed than it could have been. The voice acting was also really good, I seem to remember.
One of my main peeves with the game was the battle system--not the actual fighting, which is... okay, I suppose, but the load time before the fight begins. They tried to disguise this by having the camera revolve around the fighting area while the characters/sounds/effects are loading from disc, but it takes a while and gets to be a bit of a pain after a while. The fights themselves can go very quickly, but the load time is always there.
Some of the most momentous battles take place between ships, and here again the battle system got the job done, but doesn't appear to have left an overwhelmingly positive impression on me. It's turn-based of course, and had something to do with having your characters alternate between storing up "energy" versus using special abilities, tools, or the ship's weapons, and then there being specific turns during which it is more or less likely that you'll be attacked, or manage to maneuver for a good shot. The highlight comes when you finally get the right turn and power level to shoot off the ship's main gun, whose effect is always impressive. The final ship battles in the game are suitably epic and satisfying.
If you really want to play the game right you need a VMU rather than a 4x memory card, because you find powerup items for one of the character's pets (which also happens to be her main weapon) by listening for the VMU's beeping to alert you of their vicinity. Stupid gimmick, really, and I do so hate that beeping sound. Come to think of it, they must have had a better solution for this in the GC version--I wonder what it was. The game also has at least one downloadable VMU game but I can't recall ever bothering to get fresh batteries so that I could play it.
· Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)

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