Skies of Arcadia is a very adventurous game where you travel around the world meeting many different cultures, and thus the soundtrack reflects this with great diversity and dynamics. Being the one-time show that Skies of Arcadia is, Yutaka Minobe and Takayuki Maeda really give it their all on this album. It stands out being one of the great RPGs on the RPG-lacking Dreamcast and GameCube, and therefore sort of has a classic standing. But how does this RPG soundtrack stand up against the bigger series of the time?
The soundtrack is tied together solidly through the continual use of heavy orchestration. This is first reflected by the "Opening Theme", which is a majestic overture with an extreme resemblance to the Fire Emblem theme actually. When I spoke of that cultural aspect, I really meant it. The town themes are the finest tracks in the game given their diversity. "Kingdom of Ixa 'Taki" is an example of the fine town instrumentation given it demonstrates the specific culture very well. It has a bit of a dark edge, but overall makes me just feel like relaxing on a nice evening thanks to its tropical guitar use. It's one the more memorable tunes on the album and rather nostalgic too. Considering the diversity of the album further, "Remote Town" also has a more medieval feel and "Air Pirate Island" features a swashbuckling flute lead, but both ultimately endear through their very catchy melodies.
Only a couple of the tracks get electric though. "Vyse's Theme" uses a lot of electric guitar and basically sounds like a rock band with a bit of orchestra thrown in. It seems to really fit with the chaaracter of Vyse also. In my opinion, the main battle theme is a bit boring in comparison though. It's just too laid back. Fortunately, things pick up with a few of the other battle themes, many of which blend orchestral and rock elements. I really like the idea of the tracks called "Boss Battle (Crisis and Opportunity)" and "Last Battle (Opportunity)". When the battles begin, there is some frantic rock music, but as the tracks near to their climaxes, the music changes to a more upbeat "I'm kicking your ass" pace. It's a neat perspective on battle music that I kind of enjoy.
A lot of the soundtrack isn't exactly memorable though. The battle and travel themes have a particular tendency to be forgettable, simply due to their lack of melodic charisma, but they're hardly as uninteresting as some RPG soundtracks out there. There isn't too much filler elsewhere, but just some blander orchestration with no real melodies to catch the ear. "Epilogue" and "Credits" offer some of the greater orchestrations to finish the album, though. The two tracks flow so well, and have a very satisfying "end of adventure" sound that may bring emotions to those finishing the game. The horns and woodwinds and every little detail sounds great in these two. The sound quality isn't perfect, but at times you will fully believe you are listening to an orchestra playing these themes. It's also a pretty decent sized soundtrack, and with it being so diverse, there is a lot to choose from.
The overall soundtrack really has a majestic feel to it. Yutaka Minobe and Takayuki Maeda may not have created the most unique or amazing RPG music out there, but it really works for the game especially on a system that didn't get too many good RPGs. There are a few great tracks, a couple catchy tracks and a couple bland tracks. Some tracks can be a bit forgettable on a stand-alone basis, but everything works flawlessly in context. If you are a fan of orchestrated and adventurous RPG music then I highly recommend it.