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  -Part 1 :: [02.13.02]
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  -Part 7 :: [03.02.05]
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  -Part 11 :: [02.17.13]


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"'Everybody! Love! And Peace!' Selphie contributes, sounding like she just took a hit off Wakka's blitzbong. This is supposed to be Really Funny, and everyone shakes their heads in unison at her bizarre behavior. Well, except for Squally, because he's lost in thought about loving a piece of Seifer."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy VIII Part 5




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Skies of Arcadia : Part 7
By Jeanne
Posted 03.02.05
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
The last installment of The Ass Pirates Collect Crystals Just Like In Every Other RPG consisted of a nonsensical dungeon, a dastardly double-crossing, fights against a series of giant penises, and me banging my head against my desk at the dumbassitude of Vyse. With the Red Moon Crystal finally in their possession, the Ass Pirates decided to cross the treacherous South Ocean to seek out the Green Moon Crystal. Red and green -- it's like Christmas!

Still floating outside the demolished Pyrynn temple entrance, the group steers the Little Jack back toward Maramba, then southwest toward the blank area on the map. Soon, a series of tornadoes appear, signalling the start of the ungodliest part of the entire game. Some of the tornadoes are thicker than Tidus's skull, and some are as narrow as his penis. Drachma breaks into this lovely analogy to give Vyse an explanation. "Listen up, boy. This area is known as South Ocean. It's considered to be one of the most difficult places to sail through. There's a strong crosswind that blows from the west. Nobody has ever successfully sailed through it." "But the lands of the Green Moon are through here, right?" Vyse wonders. "No, we're just subjecting ourselves to this windy hell for fun. What do you fucking think?" Drachma should respond.

 
It sure does blow.

Vyse regurgitates what Drachma said earlier about Belleza's 1337 engine giving them a slight chance. "Hmm... Perhaps. But my knowledge of this place is limited. You're on your own, boy," Drachma responds, conveniently forgetting said earlier statement. It's so refreshing when people can't remember shit from five minutes ago. Drachma's final word on the matter is that this next leg of the journey is going to suck unspeakable amounts of ass.

And boy is he not kidding. I will back up what I said a few paragraphs ago about this being the worst part of the game. First off, there is indeed a wind blowing from the west, the direction in which I'm headed. This means I must constantly hold the control stick forward in order to move at the speed of a snail on downers. If I let up for a second, I shoot backward and have to redo the last thirty seconds of flying.

So far, this probably seems irritating but manageable. But I've barely even begun to describe the horrors. See, there are frequent random battles. Obnoxiously slow battles, just like the rest of the game. But as an added bit of excitement, the battles all involve these creatures that look like gray bat slugs and have the lovely habit of casting Eternum, an instant death spell. That never misses.

And it's bad enough when I get into a battle with, like, two of them. However, they tend to attack in groups of ten or so. "But Jeanne," you say, "If they're that bad, why don't you just run away?" That's a good question, and I'm glad you asked. See, Skies of Arcadia has implemented one of my absolute favorite battle mechanics -- the rarely escapable battles. Boy, I just love when I'm outnumbered and dying and the game designers won't fucking let me get the hell out of there. It makes the game a lot more exciting and fun! And it's especially awesome in this case, because I choose all my characters' actions at once, and attempting to run cancels out everyone else's moves. So if I try to run away and can't (the usual occurrence), the enemies all get to take a swipe at me before I get another chance to run away and fail.

The only possible saving grace is that I can save whenever I want. I only mention this because someone is bound to point it out to me as a reason why this part doesn't suck nearly as much ass as I claim it does. But they're dead wrong.

When I was recording this part the other day and having absolutely no fun at all, I was trying to think of how to convey the irritation and anger and pain that the South Ocean inspires in my very soul. And after a while, I thought up the only comparison that really makes sense: this part of the game is like having sex with Tidus.

Now I'm not looking for dozens of e-mails and message board posts about "OMG JEANNE HAD SEX WITH TIDUS!!!!!!!!" In case you missed it, he doesn't exist, you fucking freakjobs. Not to mention the more pertinent issue -- that I wouldn't have sex with Tidus even if he jizzed one-hundred dollar bills.

No, this is simply based on my own predictions of the experience. See, I imagine that a sexual encounter with Tidus would be similar to struggling against a strong wind -- the winds of incompetence. Meanwhile, the irritations keep piling on and you want to run away. It seems to last forever, though it doesn't. It really doesn't, if you follow me. You start to hate the world around you, not to mention yourself. You try to resist certain death, though at the same time you wish you would hurry up and die. There's no reward that makes this experience worth it. It's pointless, aggravating, and sad.

And if that comparison doesn't cut it for you, then listen to this. When I first got my Dreamcast and needed to pick out an RPG for it, I wanted to get either Skies of Arcadia or Grandia II. In the Skies of Arcadia reviews I read, most of them mentioned this part of the game. It was enough to make me buy Grandia II instead. Obviously, that was a mistake, but I think you understand the levels of lameitude now.

Oh, but at least I find the God damn Sky Anemone discovery. That totally makes up for all the other shit. Except not.

It sounds like a fanboy.
 

At about 28 minutes into this flight from hell, some leaves start blowing from the west. If this signals land, I think I'm going to shed tears of happiness. Also, for the sake of everyone's sanity and stomach contents, I'm going to dissociate the word "blowing" from my previous Tidus sex analogy.

A cut scene on the bridge of the Little Jack confirms my suspicions regarding the leaves. And the Ass Pirates are almost as happy as I am. The Informational Text God excitedly informs me that I have discovered "the 'Ixa'taka'". Then, a Thought You'd Like To Know Box pops up to reiterate what I already knew: getting to Ixa'taka is a real bitch so no one ever visits and there may be even more undiscovered lands out there. No shit, Sherlock. It also says that Ixa'taka is a "lush, rich continent," which totally sinks my theory that the Green Moon watches over the land of dirt.

Now, the journey to Ixa'taka blew gangrenous elephant balls for me as a gamer. But supposedly the world of Arcadia is chock full of accomplished sailors with various levels of pimped out ships. I'm supposed to believe that no one can manage to take half an hour, stock up on healing items, and fly through this area? Something's fishy here. I guess we can add it to the pile, along with such gems as Pyrynn's bizarre navigational scheme and the fact that the Ass Pirates never visited an island two minutes away from theirs.

"I'm sure these leaves came from Ixa'taka," Fina contributes after the text boxes have had their say. I can see why the Silvites picked her to carry out their quest -- she's a genius! She also reiterates, because this is such a fucking confusing concept, that the lands under the Green Moon are full of forests. "The life-giving Green Moon has blessed the lands with fertility..." she adds. Holy shit, note to self: don't go there.

This little spiel causes Pippi to drift off into one of her daydreams. And no, it doesn't involve the Ixa'takans breeding like rabbits. A still painting of Vyse, Pippi, and Fina stuffing their faces with fruit accompanies Pippi's ramblings. "I can see it now... piles and piles of fruits and vegetables... of all different shapes, sizes, colors, and tastes..." she squees. Lurking in the background of the painting is a drooling, pointy-toothed creature with soulless headlights for eyes, which Vyse thinks is one of the many carnivores that prey on dumbasses who sit around shoveling food down their gullets. It's probably just a game designer leering at the chicks.

Pippi irritably tells Vyse not to shit on her parade. Back in the non-painting world, Fina giggles, "Haha... If [Pippi] was hungry enough, she'd probably eat the monsters, too!" See, it's funny because Pippi's a girl and girls aren't supposed to eat a lot because they get fat! Pippi whines that they're ganging up on her, causing Fina to go back into annoying mode and apologize for her transgressions. Pippi giggles. This means they're going to do it.

 
And wouldn't the fanboys love that?

Drachma is all, "Stop fucking around, you damn kids." "Aye aye, Captain! As soon as we see Ixa'taka, we'll look for a spot to land," Vyse duhs. Thank God he clarified that, or I might have sailed around forever.

The "continent" of Ixa'taka is actually a series of islands, much like Nasr. The closest island has a foreboding phallic cylinder on it, bristling with machinery. I can't go there yet, but I'm guessing this is Someplace Bad. See, mechanical shit has no place in Green Plant Land.

On the way through the area, Vyse runs into a battle with animated pineapples. Yay, the bat slugs are no more! I'm so fucking relieved over this that I'm totally caught off guard when I get attacked by some stupid green flying things and almost die. It's so fun to get reamed in the ass in unexpected ways! Kind of like being in prison, but without the fast internet connections!

After a while, the crew encounters a medium-sized floating island, complete with waterfalls pouring off of it into nothingness. This island houses the city of Horteka, now called Whorteka because I'm twelve.

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