Are Nostalgia and Skies of Arcadia the Same Game?
By: Olen Bjorgo
*Warning! Contains spoilers for Skies of Arcadia and Nostalgia!*
As you might have noticed, I was less than pleasant when I wrote about Nostalgia
and how it was inferior to Skies of Arcadia. However, I had to wonder how much my
preference to Skies was based on, for the lack of a better word, nostalgia. While
I’m not going to back track on my words or ratings, I might have been just a bit
kinder to Skies than I should have been. The game is a ten-
But why would I prefer one over the other? Both games are similar: a world that is dependent on airship technology and experiencing Westernized themes of expansion and exploration, main characters that fight with swords and protect mysterious looking pale women with special powers or abilities, a sinister group seeking an ancient power to rule the world, and the numerous genre tropes that you could come to expect. You could even say they are the same game at the end of the day, but are they really? No. No, they’re not. One executes their ideas and themes better.
And that statement can be taken two ways, mind you.
I do want to make it clear that I don’t see Skies of Arcadia as some pinnacle of what an RPG should be and what all games ought to strive for, and it’s by no means perfect. The game follows a relatively predictable story, just like Nostalgia does, but it still has twists you might not see coming, whereas Nostalgia maybe had one or two. There I go again, being mean to Nostalgia. I’m sorry, sweetie.
“You always say you’re sorry…”
Perhaps I should stop beating around the bush, and explain what I mean by Skies’ developers executing their ideas better than Nostalgia did. First off, the world we’re given to explore seems more whimsical and fun in Skies of Arcadia. While I do love the ideas that you can generate from imaging alternate timelines of our world, the limitless possibilities of history’s many “what if” questions, they are also open to being executed poorly, and in the case of Nostalgia, there’s nothing really explored. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, Atlantis, El Dorado, Lemuria; these mythical locations are simply a part of the world, and explained away as “Wow, these places aren’t myths! Let’s kill monsters, and get the McGuffin!”
“Quick! Before we empathize!”
The world of Arcadia, however, is a place that is similar to our world, but nothing like it: people live on floating rocks, fish and other normal marine creatures fly, chunks of the six moons fall down and are used as a source of fuel for everyday living, and we can identify cues or ideas from our world in Arcadia. You don’t go to Europe, you go to Valua. You don’t go to the Middle East, you go to Nasr. Arcadia has its own legends, its own history, events that affect people you encounter. There’s a larger sense of wonder, and Nostalgia never truly pulls this off effectively until the very end, when you find yourself literally in another world so unlike our own.
“Damn, when you put it like that…”
Then, we have the characters. Granted, neither game really explores in depth to their motivations, but Skies does it more than Nostalgia. Let’s compare, shall we? The leading protagonists of Skies of Arcadia and Nostalgia, Vyse and Edward respectively, are basically the same: both have famous fathers, they surpass their fathers by merit of being the heroes, they captain airships, they fight with swords, they have the same motivation to see the world, they both have the honor of discovering things in their world, and they’ve got some pretty cool outfits. Except for a few minor details, they’re essentially the same person. That leaves the rest of the party, but since Skies of Arcadia has six playable characters, while Nostalgia only has four, that leaves a bit of a disadvantage, so I’m gonna have to stretch a bit.
As far as gunslingers go, Skies of Arcadia’s Gilder is so much better than Nostalgia’s Pad. Gilder is a womanizing Air Pirate with an obsessive stalker, an adventurous spirit, and tends to be a drifter who would love nothing more than to have one arm around a woman, a drink in the other, and enjoy a sunset. He has a suave but carefree style that can be charming but also despicable when you think of how he was before he met Vyse. Pad, on the other hand, is one note. He’s an orphan who grew up as a street urchin, and wants to find his parents. While Pad and Gilder only go along with the heroes because they happen to be dragged along, Gilder will come and go to do his own thing, while we’re stuck with Pad.
“I told you, bitchin’ pirate coat. Bitches love pirate coats.
You mad, bro?”
The mysterious silver women of Fina and Fiona are remarkably different. While Fiona has amnesia throughout most of Nostalgia, and her primary goal is to discover her past and why the Ancient Father’s Cabal wants her, we learn straight away that Fina is a descendant of the Silvites, one of six ancient civilizations that ruled under the Silver Moon during a hyper advanced technological lost age of Arcadia that was lucky to survive the apocalyptic event known as the Rains of Destruction, and her mission is to gather five ancient gems called Moon Crystals to prevent the Valuan Empire from misusing them like the ancients did. We’re given a backstory, a good motivation, and have Fina as a proxy to help us learn about the ancient history of Arcadia, as well as the present time, since she’s initially unaware of concepts like money and ghosts. Fiona doesn’t get any semblance of interesting until much later, when we learn that she’s actually a Princess of the White Order, from another world called Asgard, and was locked away in Pandora’s Box along with the three leaders of the opposing Black Order.
Melody and Aika are the last comparable couple, since the remaining two characters
from Skies of Arcadia, Prince Enrique and Drachma, are both male and not known for
their magic in combat. Both Aika and Melody can be egotistical and selfish, can show
their softer side for their friends, both are powerful magic users, and both are
orphans. Melody had no friends her own age growing up so she’s brash around the party
and is shown to care for the equally brash Pad. Aika, however, grew up alongside
Vyse, and was even adopted by his family after her parents were killed, and, after
getting in danger during a rescue mission when they were ten years old, was indirectly
responsible for Vyse’s signature crescent scar on his cheek. Aika, rather unsubtly,
makes it clear that she has feelings for Vyse through showing extreme concern for
Fade to black, and insert fan-
The addition of Enrique and Drachma possibly play an important role in why I prefer
Skies of Arcadia. Drachma, an old fishing captain from the North Ocean near Valua,
plays a Captain Ahab type of character who hunts for a giant arcwhale he calls Rhaknam,
which destroyed his first ship, killed his crew and son, and made him lose his arm,
and possibly his eye as well. Prior to this discovery, we only know that he finds
the mission of finding Moon Crystals and fighting the Valuan Armada head-
Enrique, Crown Prince and Heir to the Valuan Empire, is your typical male royalty
character: he’s trained in the art of the rapier, is educated about the world and
its workings, but not its day-
If I had to say one glowing remark of praise in recommendation of Nostalgia, it’s
that it’s an adventure in its simplest form that is free from any large pretense
Nostalgia, on the other hand…
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