Skies of Arcadia is a Role-Playing Game for the Sega Dreamcast , featuring pirates who sail the skies rather than the seas.Vyse and Aika are two young and eager Sky Pirates who fly under the flag of the Blue Rogues: virtuous pirates who only target the bloated and corruptValuan Empire. One day, they meet a Mysterious Waif called Fina, who is on a quest to recover the six Moon Crystals that have been scattered throughout the floating islands that make up Arcadia. Of course, the Valuan Empire are also after the crystals, for they are the keys to controlling six almighty colossi with enough firepower to easily Take Over the World.A major draw of Skies of Arcadia is its upbeat and optimistic tone, roguishly defying the trend of Darker and Edgier RPGs that dominated the market at the time of its release. It features a setting reminiscent of the "Age of Sailing", as you rediscover long-lost lands and the numerous "Discoveries" strewn across the overworld (whose locations can be sold for a tidy sum if you're fast enough to claim credit). Vyse, Aika and Fina also stand out as one of the few mixed gender teams that compliment each other without descending into a dreaded Love Triangle subplot.While the game does have a long list of flaws (a cliched story, an insanely-high Random Encounter rate and a battle system full of Game Breakers and semi-awkward controls), its colourful charm and vibrant world has allowed its popularity to endure throughout the years.The game received an Updated Re-release for the Gamecube called Skies of Arcadia: Legends. It reduced the random encounter rate to a more sensible level (and increased the XP rewards accordingly), added in new Bonus Bosses, Discoveries and Sidequests, and inserted the content that was originally tied to the Dreamcast's VMU minigame. Sega have also hinted at an HD Rerelease.It also received a manga, which was scanlated. It keeps the game's core story elements, but also takes some creative liberties as well: Vyse is also a lot more reckless, and Fina more angsty.As of 2012, the game was finally inducted into the SEGA Superstars series via Vyse's inclusion as a playable character in Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed. The game also includes a Skies of Arcadia inspired track with remixes of songs from the game.Now with Character Sheet.
After the End: Way after. Society has long since adapted and recovered since the Rains of Destruction wracked the planet so many centuries ago, with the Old World being a thing of legends and tall tales.
Despite his omnicidal behavior, Fina consistently grieves over Ramirez. Immediately after defeating him, Vyse opts to give him an honorable sailor's funeral. Which they do, and it was nice.
Gregorio and Belleza's death, especially since both are AntiVillains.
Also all of Valua. Despite the fact that Empress Teodora and Alfonso did that whole enslaving and taking over the world thing, you can't help feel sorry for them. Most of the people that died in the Rains of Destruction of Valua were innocents, be it the snobby Upper Valuans or the impoverished Lower Valuans.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Repeatedly. First, Galcian lays waste to Dyne's base. Then the Delphinus is (briefly) recaptured by Belleza during her coup d'état in Yafutoma. Last but not least, Ramirez traces Vyse's ship back to Cresent Island, destroying his base again.
Animated Armor: Guardian, the boss of Shrine Island. A tough cookie in its own right — and you face more of them in the final dungeon, except this time, they're in mint condition.
An Interior Designer Is You: After getting your own pirate base, you can design the buildings in various styles depending on the carpenter you choose to build them.
Anti-Grinding: The bounties level up with you, and exponentially besides. Best not put off fighting them too long...
Apocalypse How: The Rains of Destruction that stopped the Ancient Civilizations' endless wars by destroying them happened a few thousand years before the game begins and were a class 2. A few Silvites managed to escape this by flying into space, primarily because as the people who caused it they decided not to use the appropriate superweapon on their own moon. Their decision to call the Rains a second time resulted directly in modern-day Valua being hit with a Class 0.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Four characters at a time, three of which are always Vyse, Aika, and Fina. For most of the game, this is justified by having the characters come and go as the plot demands, but even after Gondor has called for aid you can still only bring four people with you, with the rest stuck doing nothing on your airship.
Aristocrats Are Evil: Alfonso is the only Valuan Admiral without any sense of honor (except De Loco, who is demonstratively insane), and it's made clear that the only reason he even got the job is because he comes from an extremely prominent family. Averted with Enrique, the Prince. Also averted by Illchymis who wants to heal the sick.
This trope is also what causes Ramirez to go mad: he winds up siding with a Four-Star Badass who earned his position, rather than inherited it.
Arm Cannon: The Guardian robots have cannons that extend out from their palms.
Armies Are Evil: Empress Teodora believes she's in charge of the imperial armada. She is mistaken.
Attempted Rape: By Vigoro on Aika. Of course, this being a T-rated game, he didn't get far and the dialogue was not explicit.
Awesome, but Impractical: For her Omega Psyclone attack, Aika throws her boomerang into the air, jumps up maybe one hundred feet to grab it, somersaults, and throws multiple copies of it into the ground, which creates the fiery outline of a hexagon, which then explodes and turns every bit of ground as far as the eye can see into a pit of magma. Then that explodes, dealing... half as much damage as Vyse whacking someone in the face with the Vorlick blade would. It's useful while you're grinding until you get your spirit levels high enough to be able to use Rain of Swords on the first turn, as it will clear out most weak enemies and do a decent chunk of damage to stronger ones.
Prophecy and Blue Rogues. The former calls down a moon on your opponents for a huge amount of damage to all enemies. The latter calls members of your crew to either deal damage to your enemies or heal your party. Either attack also makes enemies skip their turns. However, you can only use these attacks after the story event where you get the Delphinus, you have to charge your spirit points to max, and the attack takes all your spirit points. By the time you've completely filled the spirit bar, you could've probably done comparable damage just whacking your enemies with basic attacks and a few special moves.
Prophecy makes for a great bounty killer, especially against Vize and crew with their pesky healer. Just shield yourself with Justice Shield and Delta Shield every round until you can fire it off, and most bounty bosses will be nearly wiped out and easily beaten in the next couple of turns.
Beautiful Void: There are many of these present throughout the entire game, even including parts of the overworld. If an area is uninhabited, it has a high chance of being one of these. The City of Glacia deserves special mention.
Bechdel Test: Passes. Aika and Fina have a close friendship, and their banter is not hindered in the slightest by Vyse being out of the party.
BFS: Grand Admiral Galacian uses one of these. Looks out of place because nearly every other hand weapon in the game is realistically-proportioned. Vyse's Vorlik Blade certainly isn't ideal for holding in one hand. And the Sky Fang... well, enough said.
Given that the Valuan Empire draws heavily from the era when Spain was an absolute world power, this occurs. Alfonso, Gregorio, Enrique, and Teodora are typical Spanish names. "Belleza" means "beauty," and the "loco" in De Loco's name means "crazy." Also, Gordo the Round's name, "gordo", is actually Spanish for "fat," while "Domingo" is the Spanish word for both "Sunday" and the name "Dominic."
The name of Ramirez's flagship, the Monoceros, is in fact Greek for unicorn.
Blinding Bangs: A little girl standing on the balcony of Sailor Island's inn.
Blood Knight: Vigoro says he doesn't care whom he works for or to what end as long as he gets to fight.
Body to Jewel: This becomes a vital development when the location of Silver Crystals is found to be inside the bodies of Silvites.
Bonus Boss: The Bounties in the remake; special mention should go to Lapen, Daikokuya, and Lord Bane. Piastol is an example of That OneBonus Boss, since she has to be fought four times before finally giving up, and she gets much stronger with each iteration. Vigoro also gets a Bonus Boss battle after his change in occupation.
Book Ends: The game starts with Vyse and Aika retrieving the Moon Stone from Shrine Island, which turns out to be the entry way to the final dungeon.
Bowdlerize: The original Japanese version of the Dreamcast game was changed on localization to the West. All of these changes were carried over to the GameCube remake. All of these changes were also carried over to the Japanese version of the aforementioned remake as well, with a lot of kanji being replaced with hiragana so that younger players could read the dialogue.
Rum was the mainstream drink, which was changed to juice called "loqua" in the U.S version. See entry for Frothy Mugs of Water.
Several blatantly drunk characters were removed, e.g. a bald man on Sailor's Island with what appears to be vomit stains on his mouth.
Bread and Circuses: Lower City is full of peasants with no prospects, no food, and no hope. They sustain themselves on the rotten food left behind by the nobles (one little girl has never even tasted non-stale bread). The men work all day building battleships until their knees buckle and their backs break. The only pleasure in life, the only thing which keeps them going, is witnessing enemies of the state being beheaded in the arena. This is as democratic as Valua gets: the coliseum is placed directly between Upper and Lower City.
Bridge Bunnies: Aika and Fina are the two constant companions on the bridge.
But Thou Must: You can't change the plot by refusing to do things, but you can drop your Swashbuckler rating by trying.
It's worth a playthough just to pick all the incompetent-sounding choices. Aika comes out sounding like the real hero!
Eventually, though, the game starts offering up win-win decision trees. Sorry, but thou must.
Cast of Snowflakes: Apart from a few Mooks and (some of) the shopkeepers, just about everyone from the main characters to random citizens has their own character model. Hell, even the two uniformed guards in front of Nasrad's and Yafutoma's palaces look different from each other.
The City Narrows: Valua's Lower City is a hive of thieves, beggars, and hatred, all wrapped in a cocoon of rusted-out metal and pollution.... in stark contrast to the agricultural simplicity of Pirate Isle. There's even a Pow lookalike wandering the streets; but instead of happily greeting you like the previous huskra did, it just growls.
Blue Rogues and Black Pirates. Guess which faction of Air Pirates are Just Like Robin Hood and which are the evil cutthroats.
The moons, moon stones, and civilizations, all six colors - Green, Red, Purple, Blue, Yellow, and Silver, with a lone discovery in the Dark Rift hinting to a Black Moon.
Galcian's admirals. It's like watching a Gothic reenactment of Dick Tracy: Alfonso is yellow/white, Gregorio is Brown, Vigoro is blue, Belleza is pink/red, De Loco is green, and Ramirez is silver/black.
During the Blue Rogues special attack, the back ground color indicates whether the featured crew member is attacking (blue) or healing (red).
Aika: Talk about trying to compensate... That guy's got a complex.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The reason why you'll be using Delta Shield every turn for the last third of the game is because if an enemy uses a Silver Instant Death spell, it will wipe out at least two of your four party members. Worse still is that even though you choose your actions at the start of each battle round, the computer is under no such restriction: therefore, it will use an instant death spell the second you decide not to use Delta Shield.
This is why the optional Gamecube battles are so time-consuming. Most of your skill points will likely be spent on re-casting Delta Shield, Justice Shield et al over and over again.
You'd think that if there were just one enemy in the entire game that you should be allowed to fight, it would be that smug jerk Alfonso. Instead, he goes out with the Empress when Valua gets totaled. Of course, by then you've put him through the Humiliation Conga so many times, a boss fight with him would probably be a joke, anyway...
Hell, Teodora herself qualifies for this. She's the main antagonist for much of the game, yet she is never even shown in anything but her throne. Not only that but she never even meets Vyse and the gang in person before she is smashed.
The Empire: Though, like most JRPG examples, Valua can only lay claim to some parcels of wasteland. Their only colonies (excepting Yafutoma, which is quickly liberated by Vyse and his pirate counterparts in the east) are Esparanza and Ixa'Taka; acquiring governorship of the latter is viewed by Alfonso as being Reassigned to Antarctica.
Aika and Fina become stranded in Nasr at one point, and require money to buy a ship and go looking for Vyse. They get jobs as... barmaids. The bartender and his customers are distraught when they later quit.
The hunt for the fallen Moon Stone at the start of the game and later, the hunt for Daccat's Treasure. Both are necessary sequences in the plot and not actually detours.
The quest to help a woman in Esperanza get reunited with her mother in Nasr (in Maramba), which involves each of them asking you to get things from the other.
Getting all the moonfish in the Gamecube version. You get awesome rewards and backstory for every few fish you bring, so it's not too frustrating most of the time.
Fight Woosh: The screen breaks when you hear the woosh. In the Dreamcast version, this woosh was preceded by the console's trademark loading noise; since the random encounter rate is ungodly high in the Dreamcast version, this was something of a godsend. Simply opening the menu and changing a weapon when you heard the fight load would stop the fight from happening.
Forbidden Zone: The Dark Rift may fool you into thinking it's the most terrifying environment imaginable. Deep Sky takes it Up to Eleven.
Foreshadowing: You can see a verdant-looking Soltis in Fina's narrations.
In Deep Sky, if you squint as you're riding down the vortex tunnel up until you reach the surface, you can see the actual parts of Soltis behind the tunnel. However, it's only fully visible when lightning flashes.
After getting a base Aika comments that Fina is sounding more like an Air Pirate each day and by the time they're done, she'll be dressed like one as Cupil will be wearing an eyepatch. All of this is true in the ending.
Frothy Mugs of Water: Loqua. It's stated that it's just juice, but it's treated as a type of liquor or beer, and the tavern in Esperanza has a couple people who are Drowning Their Sorrows in it. In the Japanese, it's more openly liquor.
For that matter, Bellena has some impressive (though subtle) jiggle physics.
For a male example, you have Pinta's belly jiggles.
The really interesting bit is that your two female companions (and a vast majority of other female characters, including Piastol — an otherwise leather-clad dominatrix-looking type) do NOT have any jiggle physics to speak of. This implies that it isn't an artifact of the physics engine, but instead something that someone spent development time on simulating.
Gangsta Style: At short range, Gilder fires his pistol like this. At long range, he uses a more sensible two-handed grip. Somewhat justified since "short range" for Gilder essentially means placing the barrel right in the enemy's face.
Gondor Calls for Aid: The ending, when absolutely everyone you met that has a ship shows up to help Vyse and friends. This is particularly impressive as Gondor did not even call for aid. When the events that lead Vyse into a Heroic BSOD occurred, Drachma, Gilder's crew, as well as all the Air Pirates in the game, both Blue Rogues and Black Pirates alike, as well as the Yafutoman navy and the Tenkou, and finally Vyse's father all just show up unnannounced at Vyse's base because they know he is the only guy crazy and determined enough to take on Galcian's Armada. In a sense, 'Aid calls for Gondor.'
Grand Theft Prototype: The Delphinus was intended to be a prototype for an all-new fleet of Valuan warships. When Vyse jacks it, he puts a serious crimp in their plans.
Green Rocks: Moon Stones, also available in Red, Blue, Purple, Yellow, and Silver. Also the mysterious Black Moon Stones with the power to reverse energy; they're only mentioned in passing and have been a fertile ground for Epileptic Trees in the fandom.
Guide Dang It: It is impossible to find all the Moonfish, Chams, Treasure Chests, Crew Members and Discoveries for the shiny 'Legend' title in the GameCube version of the game without consulting some form of guide.
Guns Are Worthless: Valuan gun troopers are generally amongst the weaker of enemies (even when compared to swordsmen) and Gilder, while a character firmly on the 'physical' side of physical attacks vs. magic, is less powerful than Vyse and Drachma. Can be partway-explained in that personal firearms in Skies of Arcadia are still at the flintlock stage.
Gunship Rescue: The Little Jack comes to Vyse's rescue at the end of the monorail chase. Just as Galcian has Vyse cornered in the engine car, Drachma blasts it in half with a well-placed shot.
Gunslinger: Gilder. He even has a move by this name.
Hopeless Boss Fight: It is possible to fight Galcian and Ramirez three different times before the endgame, but you reallyshouldn't. Luckily, in all three times, it's possible to avoid them.
Hufflepuff House: Different varieties of Blue Pirates, from the Dyne family to Centime, Gilder, and Clara. All of them join the final fight against Galcian.
100% Heroism Rating: One of the benefits of a high Swashbuckler Rating is that NPC shopkeepers- especially on Sailors' Island- will gush over your celebrity status. In addition, getting the title Vyse the Legend - which involves getting 100% Completion - unlocks an optional boss fight and a few other perks.
Industrial Ghetto: Lower City. They built the warships here, and workers are treated like dogs.
Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Justified in the sewers, of all places. The weapons merchant in Maramba knows the story of how they came to be there.
Informed Attribute: The Tricyclone. Its entry in the Discovery Guide says that encountering it is essentially a death sentence. When you do encounter it however, it's barely bigger than the Little Jack and is completely harmless. This is in stark contrast to South Ocean, which you can't even enter before upgrading your ship to withstand the currents from the massive cyclones that litter it.
It's the Journey That Counts: Daccat's "treasure"... Or so it would seem, at first. You can sell the "treasure" later for 20,000 gold. The real point of the exercise is to reunite Vyse, Aika, and Fina. See? Greed really is good.
Just Eat Gilligan: Averted. The Moon Crystals are objects of incredible power, and can control ancient bioweapons. The main point of the plot is to acquire these so the villains can't use them, and yet it never really occurs to our heroes to simply throw them overboard. Even the one character who does think of it decides not to. The avoidance of this trope is mostly a set up for the Plot Twist and Fina also had explicit orders to retrieve them, not destroy them.
Karma Meter: A variant with the Swashbuckler Rating. At various points you're given a choice between whether to act aggressively or more cautiously. Your rating goes up for dashing bravery, but not Suicidal Overconfidence or boorish rudeness. This can get into Guide Dang It territory, as some of the "brave" choices like infiltrating Valua would be suicidal by Real Life standards.
Last Disc Magic: Once Vyse acquires his own ship, "Prophecy" and "Blue Rogues" appear in the battle menu (but only if your Spirit's at max). Not exactly "last disc" magic since it's unlocked roughly at the game's halfway point, alleviating its cheapness.
Last Villain Stand: As long as Galcian has Soltis, he's still in the game, even with his fleet destroyed.
Once he's killed, Ramirez decides the world must burn for not accepting Galcian as its rightful ruler.
Galcian: I don't think they're foolish enough to resist. However, if something should happen... Burn the village and kill them all. Let the bodies rot in the sun and leave one of our flags to set an example for others who may defy us. They weren't foolish enough to resist: the noncombatants were left alone and the Rogues were taken prisoner and later rescued.
Lighter and Softer: This game was released during a time when companies were pumping out nothing but uberdark Final Fantasy VII clones. Mind, there are still many dark and/or poignant moments in the game, but they don't dominate the story as a whole.
Love Triangle: Possibly one of the few love triangles in an RPG where the participants don't care about resolving it- and don't. In fact, it's easy to argue that since only one person seems to express a romantic attraction, it's non-existent. Romantic relationships and hints between characters certainly do exist, but very little emphasis is put on them, and the role they play in the plot is minimal to nonexistant.
MacGuffin Delivery Service: Happens so often with the Moon Crystals that it's a surprise whenever you manage to hang onto one. The last couple crystals do not have this happen, but that's only so you can find all five of the non-silver crystals, and then Ramirez ambushes you by surprise and takes all of them anyway.
Magic Skirt: Fina's skirt only flutters up to her knees when she uses magic. (Aika's goes higher, but she has shorts.)
Magitek: Those previously mentioned Green Rocks power everything even vaguely mechanical in this game, with the exception of a few scattered windmills.
Mineral MacGuffin: The six Moon Crystals: each of them is basically a Moon Stone in its purest form, as Fina describes, and they have the power to summon the Gigas. The Silver Crystal is unusual in that, unlike the others, each Silvite holds their own crystal in their bodies, and it serves as a life force; should it be removed, the Silvite dies (hence its connection to its element of life and death).
Mind-Control Eyes: Characters who are confused in battle get these. Also happens to characters who are hit by Ramirez's "Silver Nightmare" S-Move in the final boss battle.
Missed Him by That Much: The Nasr segment gets downright maddening as Vyse (presumed dead) keeps missing his cohorts, Aika and Fina, as they wait tables in the same city he's staying in. Vyse's partner, Gilder, even hits on them at one point, but doesn't make the connection that they're Blue Rogues.
Mix-and-Match Critters: The Dheerse, Alupas and Rabbats discoveries. The Dhabus used for transport in Nasr seem to be a mashup of camels and T-Rexes with a dash of elephant thrown in.
Mordor: The Valuan continent is a craggy, crater-pocked hellhole under the oppression of permanent thunderstorms. The ruined landscape is also partly due to rampant moon stone mining. So in a sense, it qualifies as Types 1 and 2.
New World Tease: Upper City. You have just enough time to window shop (Aika: This is no time for tea!!), get insulted by the locals, and gape at the glamorous buildings in the middle distance. However, as soon as you're over the first bridge, Vyse is diverted into a train leaving the city — never to return.
No Hero Discount: Subverted; Most shopkeepers steadily rise in prices, but Inns will recognize you the higher your Captain rating is and give you a discount.
No Hugging, No Kissing: Between the main characters, anyway. A dashing air pirate with two lovely ladies, but they're just True Companions, although Aika drops one or two blink-and-you'll-miss-it hints she may harbor something a little deeper for Vyse.
One True Sequence: Due to the game's linearity, it looks like this is going to be the case at first. But in reality, Valua is nowhere to be seen when the Purple and Yellow Moon Crystals are found, Belleza leaves Vyse's team alone to recover the Red one for her, the Green Crystal was recovered by the very civilization that was guarding it, Valua only attacked Yafutoma after Vyse came back with the Blue Crystal, and the Silvites always had their own.
This is because Galcian and Ramirez know that they will have access to the Silver crystal(s) before Vyse and they know the Silver crystal is the last logical step in Vyse's plans, so he uses them as a MacGuffin Delivery Service in getting the purple and yellow crystals when his Admirals have previously failed
Overly Long Fighting Animation: Every special attack in the game. Subverted in that skipping your own characters' moves is optional (except for Prophecy)... but played straight against bosses, which can be irritating by the end of the game since the bosses have even cooler and longer special moves, which are really annoying the twentieth time they're used. Also played straight in ship battles - you can't skip anything.
Our Founder: One of the carpenters offers to chisel your face, Mt. Rushmore style, on your pirate HQ.
Padded Sumo Gameplay: Due to the increasing health and defense of certain types of enemies, it can actually be faster to have your entire party charge up the spirit gauge in order to use Prophecy anytime you come across one such foe.
Palette Swap: Largely avoided by having completely different enemies in each area, but upheld by the Loopers as well as a few other enemy types that come in two or three colors. Justified by the influence of the six moons — you get red Loopers in Nasr, blue Loopers in Yafutoma, etc.
Pirate Girl: Quite a few. Aika's the most memorable for obvious reasons, but there's also Clara and her entire ship, including Belle and her two friends who Clara lets you take on as gunners when it comes time to recruit your own crew. Mabel is a member of the Pirate's Isle group, Piastol is kind of along these lines in Legends, and the game's epilogue shows Fina getting onboard with it too.
Puzzle Boss: Practically all the ship fights, especially the Gigas. The Wanted battles also tend to be so hard that you'll need to plan a very thorough strategy to survive them.
Ragnarok-Proofing: Justified, since it makes sense that the ancients would store their Moon Crystals in a safe spot.
The final dungeon, Soltis, is split between the rotted-out periphery (which has been exposed to the elements for thousands of years) and the pristine interior, which is clean as a whistle and still humming with electricity. In fact, Soltis is in amazing shape considering it's been encased in mud all this time.
Random Encounters: Way too many. However, notably averted when you power up your Cool Ship so it can fly in Upper and Lower Sky, where there are no random encounters, on the world map at least. The encounter rate was thankfully reduced in the GameCube remake.
Rare Candy: Seeds come in different varieties, and each increases a single stat. Once you recruit Ilchymis, a shop will become available on your base that allows you to buy as many seeds as you want (except the evasion ones, for some reason), provided you have an insane amount of money.
Reconstruction: Of traditional fantasy RPGs after Final Fantasy VII's deconstruction. Its idealism stands in stark contrast to the cynicism of other high-profile RPGs of the time.
Vyse gets several throughout the game, culminating in things like Vyse King of Rogues or Vyse the Legend. There's also Vyse the Coward if you really screw up the Swashbuckler system, and Vyse the Fallen Pirate during a sidequest in Legends.
The wanted list on Sailor's Island shows a name for pirates wanted by Valua including Lone Wolf Lawrence, Angel of Death, and Gilder the Unfettered.
The bounties, Baltor the Blackbearded, Gordo the Round, Loose Cannon Lapen, Vize the Fallen Pirate/Legend, and Daikokuya the Wealthy.
Strangely enough, Vyse and Aika fit this description as well. While they are both prone to commit crazy actions, Aika tends to be more impulsive and expressive (she also favors fire based magic and specials), while Vyse is the calmer and more level-headed of the two. This also applies to their appearance; first thing you notice about Aika is her vibrant red hair, while Vyse typically wears a blue coat.
The Silvite Elders, who sacrifice their colony to prevent Ramirez from using the Rains of Destruction and break the barrier surrounding Soltis.
Required Party Member: Each of the above characters leaves the party at some point, and Fina spends the first few parts of the game (before they search for the Moon Crystals) as an NPC. Once they rejoin, though, there's no swapping them out.
The only time this trope's played straight is in the case of the Catacombs.
Rule of Cool: Just look at the way that Vyse holds his left sword. Also, many of the special moves.
Gilder can just warp to his pirate ship, get it simultaneously inside the middle of a floating continent and out on the open skies, and then open fire on his enemies? ...Okay!
Galcian's special attack Terminal. He teleports a hundred of feet above the Hydra, free-falls in a spiraling motion with the resulting shockwave destroying every ship around him and lands his BFS in his target creating a massive explosion that makes the Hydra briefly drift off.
Yafutoma has its own flavor of sky pirates: the Tenkou, who fly around in junk ships and have a hidden base. Their leader is similar to Vyse, right down to his wanderlust, dual sidekicks, and a visible scar.
Sinister Geometry: Soltis is unlike any continent you've encountered thus far: Flat as a pancake, with a giant hexagonal cannon pointing skyward.
Sink The Life Boats: Vyse is surprised at Ramirez's ruthlessness in this regard. Of course, in this game, "sink" means "cause to plummet thousands of feet."
Sky Pirate: Pretty much the whole point of the game.
Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: A boss has two types of music play — the initial theme, the "Uh oh, you're losing" dirge when the party's health is low (get used to that one), and 'victory is at hand' music which plays once the boss in on the ropes.
Spoiled By The Manual: Averted — Prince Enrique is briefly mentioned in the manual and has two lines in the game's first act. His recruitment into the party—to say nothing of stealing the Delphinus—is a pretty big twist.
Spoiler Opening: If you wait long enough on the "Press Start" screen, you get a different intro made up entirely of actual scenes from the game. Some aren't huge spoilers if you don't know the context, but many spoil major plot twists that don't happen until late in the game, such as the attack on Crescent Isle and the Rains of Destruction falling on Valua.
Stalker with a Crush: Clara, who is absolutely determined to marry Gilder whether he likes it or not. He doesn't. In her defense, she's pretty much the nicest stalker imaginable. Not so nice is Vigoro and his obsession with Aika. Note that his first meeting with her had him trying to rape her. The game plays further instances of them meeting as comedy.
Sucking-In Lines: The Moon Stone Cannon AND the Harpoon Cannon, the latter despite the fact that it is a wholly projectile based weapon.
Super Prototype: The Delphinus. It's completely unique, and is far more powerful than the standard Valuan warships. Later, the Spectre-class battleships appear, and are basically slightly less streamlined versions of the Delphinus that lack the Moon Stone Cannon. As Enrique notes that the Delphinus is the first of a series of similar ships, it can be expected that these are the mass-produced models of the same ship.
This is supported by the presence of a Spectre-class model in Vyse's office, which was supposedly based on the Delphinus.
The Admirals' flagships are clearly Ace Custom versions of Galcian's Serpent-class battleship, except for Belleza's. Ramirez rides around in a jet black version, but later swaps it out for a custom Spectre-class.
Swamps Are Evil: Lower Sky, which is impenetrable by most modern ships, is shrouded in mystery. No one knows what's down there, though there are colorful rumors. Actually, the sea floor is nothing but miles and miles of... mud. The thunderstorm never stops, and sunlight can't penetrate. The Delphinus can only just grope around with the help of spotlights and sonar.
Technicolor Blade: All weapons are forged from moonstones, and change color accordingly. This applies to Dyne's & Gilder's gun barrels, too.
That's No Moon: Vyse and Aika mistake Rhaknam for an island when they first encounter it. Eep.
Zelos the Silver Gigas, which turns out to be the transformed central tower of the Soltis continent and is possibly as large as the Trope Namer!
Theme Music Power-Up: Music during Boss Battles responds to whether you're winning or losing, becoming tense and dramatic when the party is at low HP, and triumphant when the boss is at low HP. Hearing the shift when using a powerful attack or timely heal is highly satisfying.
Theme Naming : Many of the Air Pirates - Drachma, Gilder, Daccat - are named after defunct forms of currency. Clara was named Krone in the Japanese version. The latter three are named after the same coin in different time periods. The Valuans all have Spanish names to improve their "Spanish Armada" flavor - even Ramirez, who is actually a Silvite. All of the named ships in the Valuan Armada are named after constellations.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: The optional airship battle versus a giant calamari. As it loses HP, the tentacles start flying off, prompting a hungry Vyse to mutter about what a waste it is.
Thrown Out the Airlock: Alfonso kills his first mate in this fashion at the very beginning of the game to hide the fact that he couldn't stop Dyne's band from hijacking his airship. His superior sees through his ploy and demotes him.
Thrown from the Zeppelin: This wound up being Galcian's plan for Belleza, who dared to voice concerns over turning the armada's guns on their own people.
Subverted - Galcian expects her to perish in the meteor rain on Valua. She survives.
Inverted with Galcian's address to his admirals. He proposes a coup against Valua, and is so charismatic that everyone greenlights the plan without a moment's thought — all except for Gregorio (who abstains) and Alfonso, who hurries home to steal Galcian's now-vacant post. However, Galcian is reluctant to dispose of such a valuable solider as Gregorio, and only kills him when the aged Admiral refuses to let him chase after Vyse. As for Alfonso, well, Galcian's not too worried about that clown: He promptly dies in the meteor strike on Valua.
The Unfettered: If you're playing right, Vyse becomes this. Also Gilder's epithet is Gilder the Unfettered.
Unstable Equilibrium: A particularly bad case; worse than most. The game becomes much easier the further you progress and the stronger you get. Money for Nothing comes into full effect around the halfway mark, later skills are far too overpowered for the enemies to provide challenge simply by making them stronger and tougher, and once you get the Delphinus, ship-to-ship combat becomes a joke even against bosses.
Actually subverted: On very rare occasions, a boss will just happen to not be immune to one of the Standard Status Effects. For instance, the Rik'Talish is not immune to Stone, and Vigoro II is not immune to Confuse. Of course, finding out which bosses aren't immune to which status effects takes a while.
Variable Mix: The music on the world map changes instrumentation depending on what parts of the world you're in. Boss fights also change the music depending on how much HP you or the boss has.
Broken Bridge: As you might expect from a game that gives you the Global Airship right away, the Broken Bridges in this game are a little more creative than usual, typically requiring you to upgrade your ship or get a better one in order to proceed. The sky rifts (self-contained hurricanes that suck ships into the Deep Sky, where they are crushed) are the JRPG equivalent of mountains.
The Valuans went a little overboard with this in Ixa'Taka: The "Iron Gate", a big honkin' iron fence stretched between two cliffs. Once Vyse sends them packing, the fence is unlocked.
Bleak Level: Lower City. What's worse is that Galcian and his turncoats later obliterate the entire kingdom, including the guiltless peasants. Only Marco made it out.
Soltis. The city has fallen a long way from the eco-friendly paradise it once was.
Chokepoint Geography: Until Vyse gets the Delphinus, sky rifts ensure that there's only one path out of each "ocean." The Dark Rift cannot be breached at all, effectively carving the planet into quadrants. (You can eventually fly over it).
Derelict Graveyard: The Dark Rift is littered with ruined ships that tried to pass through it. Have fun.
Galcian actually refers to Soltis, the weaponized continent, as his new "castle". Orcus on His Throne is averted, though, as Galcian leaves to accompany his fleet around the globe, announcing his reign to each unlucky kingdom. Ramirez will stay behind and keep his finger on the meteor button.
Does the Hydra count as this?
Technically, everything is floating in Arcadia. So any reasonably ominous fortress shaped things counts.
Palmtree Panic: Vyse's unexpected vacation on Crescent Isle. The untamed wilderness is later converted into the player's private town.
Villains Never Lie: Every word of Belleza's backstory, told in order to manipulate Vyse, is true, she just left out which side of the war her father was killed fighting for.
Ramirez is also surprisingly honest with Vyse and the others, particularly during his siege on Crescent Isle, which includes a Motive Rant as well as several Wham Lines that turn out to be 100% true.
Visual Initiative Queue: This happens with guns during ship battles, sort of. Whose action goes when is visible, and select-able, but I don't think you can tell whether the opposition or you will go first in any given turn.
Voice Grunting: Each major character has a few lines of random text played over specific high-energy moments to match the spirit of the text scrolling by. The battles have a lot more lines.
Weird Moon: The six moons are pretty evenly spread, despite the fact that a geostationary orbit requires the object to be directly above the planet's equator. And of course since the moons provide elementally aligned Moon Stones to power all magic and tech on the planet, the moons are thus Color-Coded for Your Convenience. It's stated in-game that the world is believed (then proven, as it's a Discovery) to be a sphere. This raises some interesting questions about the placement of the moons and how Arcadia is, in fact, situated.
Even odder is the implication (from the "Black Moon Stone" discovery) that there was once a seventh Black Moon, which possibly sank under the cloud barrier and is generating the Dark Rift. Arcadia ate a moon.
Although it's only mentioned in passing, most of the moons have notable effects on the lands they orbit. The Red Moon radiates so much heat, that the lands under it are turned into scorching deserts, while the Purple Moon radiates cold which freezes the lands under it. The Yellow Moon generates perpetual thunder storms, and the Green Moon somehow causes animal and plant life to flourish. The Blue Moon apparently generates strong winds. The Silver Moon creates the Vortex, which is where the Elder chose to hide Soltis.
What the Hell, Player?: After you return home from your first adventure and Aika splits off, you can peek through a hole in her wall covered by a piece of tissue... if you want to be called a pervert. It's so blatantly Schmuck Bait (the Schmuck being you the player, as the scene doesn't happen unless you investigate it) that even Vyse wonders why she put it there, after falling for it himself of course.
This also tends to happen whenever you choose an unfavorable dialogue choice.
Wooden Ships and Iron Men: It usually doesn't take long to sail from point to point. But for certain stretches of the overworld (particularly South Ocean and Yafutoma), when you factor in the high encounter rate, the voyage takes a long time. Vyse will remark on this while examining a ship's pantry; scurvy is still a very real terror of his day.
You Can't Thwart Stage One: Mostly accurate, though played with. Galcian is killed after he successfully raises Soltis. Ramirez, shattered by his death, assumes control and decides to destroy the world rather than rule it.