I’ve enthusiastically expressed my love for role-playing game Skies of Arcadia in a variety of different ways since I started writing for Kotaku. I’ve gotten a tattoo and reached out to producers almost two decades after the game was released. Released in 2000 on the Dreamcast, Skies of Arcadia’s story of air pirates, heroes, and adventure ignited my imagination and filled me with a stubborn sense of hope that persists to this day. So when I heard that the soundtrack was getting a special reprint, I had to get a copy.
I’m not someone who buys a lot of figurines or collectables. I have odd knickknacks but nothing that feels like a proper collection or hobby. Earlier this year, I saw through Twitter—where I follow someone who actually does maintain a rather impressive Skies of Arcadia memorabilia collection—that the French record label Wayô Records was re-releasing the Skies of Arcadia soundtrack. There was new art by concept artist and manga illustrator Itsuki Hoshi, original piano compositions that weaved the game’s music into a larger suite, and most curious of all, there was a music box. A tiny little box that plays the game’s main theme with a few turns of the crank. It reminded me of something my great grandmother once owned. My heart swelled. I had never seen something that felt like it was made specifically for me, but here it was.
Making a decision to buy a pretty indulgent piece of swag for a well-respected but largely obscure Sega Dreamcast game was strange. I am, if nothing else, a creature of guilt. Shouldn’t I be donating to a charity? Shouldn’t this be money that I put into savings? Maybe. But as I get older, it’s clear to me that one of the most important things you can do is care about things—especially the silly little things. If that means having a little music box and some colorful artwork, that’s OK. It’s fine for me to care about this and to revel in the memories of the heroes that moved me so many years ago.
It took some time for my order to arrive at Kotaku’s offices yesterday. I found myself unexpectedly emotional when I opened the package. Maybe it was the way that the soundtrack’s CD packaging made me remember the Dreamcast jewel case; maybe it was seeing something of that fantasy world that was tangible. There was a music sheet signed by composer Yutaka Minobe, thoughts from director Shuntaro Tanaka and producer Reiko Kodama. I played my little box. After it stopped, I sat in silence longer than I planned. What a thing to care about. What a thing, to care.
I’m still a little embarrassed. Talking about Skies of Arcadia has always put me into a rhapsodic place that I don’t have the words to explain, and I feel a little self-conscious about a video game having such a profound effect on me. This is probably the closest I’ll get to traveling back in time and reliving that first playthrough. Sega’s had plenty of time to release a port and they haven’t. The Dreamcast is dead; Skies of Arcadia is almost 20 years old. And so now I have the music box, a gorgeous little collection of artwork, and a CD. I’ll put them somewhere nice and hold into the feeling I get when I hear its comb wistfully plink out the theme that kicked off the greatest adventure I’ve ever played.