Alright, so Gil finally convinced me to play Skies of Arcadia: Legends, the GameCube remake of SEGA/Overworks’ Skies of Arcadia for the Dreamcast. I played the original Dreamcast version years ago, and I loved it. This version apparently adds more back story to the characters.
Anyway, I had read some comparisons between the Dreamcast and GameCube versions before, and I’m trying to keep an open mind with the GameCube version, but.. the soundtrack is garbage! It’s obvious that it’s using MIDI, and on the GameCube you can tell it’s using MIDI. One of the things I really miss about the Dreamcast was its MIDI patch set. A lot of games use MIDI instead of ADX for the soundtrack, and you can’t tell. But ugh.. the GameCube trumpet sample is terrible, I cringe every time I enter a battle in the GameCube version and hear it during the intro of the battle song. Their bass sample sounds pretty artificial, too. Some of the sound effects, most noticeably the sound when you use an item in battle, also sound odd because of the change in instruments.
The other thing I noticed right off the bat was the enemy death animation. On the Dreamcast, the enemy fades into a translucent red figure (all the polygons lose their texture, they just turn translucent red), and then they fade into being completely transparent and disappear. On the GameCube, they just fade to being transparent and disappear, no red step in the middle. Not really a big deal, but it was a neat effect and I wish they’d kept it.
It does have its good points too. Loading times are much shorter, since the Dreamcast’s GD-ROM drive isn’t very quick, and is very very loud, and the GameCube is the opposite. On the DC, I could tell when a random battle was coming, ’cause you’d hear the GD-ROM start seeking very loudly. No such luck with the GC.
Another good point is the lack of an epilepsy warning on the title screen. The Dreamcast version makes you read it for 2 seconds before it’ll let you proceed.. every damn time you turn the game on! I’m glad they removed that from the GC version 🙂 Also, the rumble feature in the GameCube controller isn’t nearly as violent as a Dreamcast puru-puru pack. When that Dreamcast controller starts shaking, you’d better hold on tight or you’ll drop it! GC is just a mild vibration.. not sure which I like better. GC is less distracting, but DC is more engaging. When the Valuan ship passes by in the intro on the DC, you see and hear it on the TV, and you feel and hear it in your hands. On the GC, you just feel it in your hands.. no sound of the motors or the analog stick shaking.
Finally, Loading / Saving is much quicker on the GameCube, although the background on the load/save screen is much less interesting to look at. They both show an image of the memory card, but the GC memory card is just a little square of plastic, as compared to the Visual Memory Unit for the Dreamcast, which has an LCD screen, a d-pad, and 4 buttons.
Music issues aside, the game is pretty well done so far. For anyone that’s only played the GameCube version, I recommend at least trying the Dreamcast version just to hear the sound track. It’s not supposed to suck as much as it does on the ‘cube! 🙂