I first played Skies of Arcadia on the Dreamcast almost 10 years ago now, and at the time I enjoyed it and completed it in spite of an absolutely ridiculous encounter rate when flying about in your airship. The Gamecube reduces this significantly, making moving about in the game a lot less tedious.

If you haven't played the original, it's a fairly standard console RPG, but with a unique setting. I'd describe it as Disney meets steampunk, basically. The tone is maybe a little overly "kiddie", but at the time of original release this was actually well recieved due to it being a contrast to the usual broody, angsty RPGs coming out of Japan (and the whole general Nihilistic 90s culture we had going on here in the States.) It's set in a world with no land, and only various small floating islands that everyone lives on, kinda the Waterworld of the skies. Everyone gets about with airships of course, and you play as "air pirates" Vyse and Aika who fancy themselves as Robin Hoods of sorts, robbing from the wealthy Valua Empire. It's a bit of a cliched plot as various hijinks ensue that result in needing to save the world by travelling around and collecting the Crystals of Elements, but the setting and the non-wangsty characters help it come off, along with great environments and a pile of side content.

The lower map encounter rate / higher experience given is the only major game change for the Cube iteration. Character models are very slightly improved, but there is a tradeoff of slightly lowered music bitrate quality (to cram the game down to one Cube disc from its original two GD-ROMs.) And of course you don't have to endure the Dreamcast's grindy loading. Also a bunch of new sidequests and optional content.

On my return trip through the game, I found I didn't enjoy it as well as I did a decade ago. Well, I did at first, but about 7 hours in there's a really shitty "gotcha" moment that can force you to restart the game if you aren't aware of it in advance. After completing a dungeon you get forced into a reaaaally long airship boss battle that basically requires that you have an upgraded airship, a sub-cannon and a shit pile of repair kits or it's unwinnable. All of these are optional things that the game really gives you no indication are vital, so it's easy to be caught unprepared if you're using only one or two save files, and basically forced to restart the game. I brain-dumped most of the game in the past decade so I didn't remember this part and got snagged by it ... I wasn't enjoying it enough to replay 7 hours of it all over again.

Sega missed a chance to address this issue here, as well as maybe speed up battles a bit (they have a ton of slow animations and can really drag.) If you go into the game aware that the airship battles are by far the hardest part, you get ambushed with them out of nowhere, and so you need to be carrying A Babillion repair kits at all times, you'll probably be fine and proceed on your merry way to enjoy the rest of the game, and it's otherwise very well-made. I dropped the score from 4 to 3 solely because of that shitty hang-up, however.
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