Skies of Arcadia is an absolute masterpiece, I can remember back in 2001, when it was released in England and i picked it up immediately after hearing rave reviews. It really did live up to the hype, unfortunately much like the Dreamcast it was criminally overlooked, although im sure most people who owned a Dreamcast did buy it.
The combat itself is nothing special, in fact the turn based battles are pretty slow, not as flowing as the active time battles of most Final Fantasy games. The beauty of the game doesn't lie in the battles though, the plot is where all good RPG's excel and this is no different. Exploring the planet is great fun in itself, despite the random battles (which you can later avoid), and the plot moves along superbly right until the end of the game. Where this game really innovates though is in the ship battles.
The ship battles are excellent, rather than fighting as a party, as you do for most of the game, you instead pit your ship against another ship, sometimes even monsters, though usually an enemy pirate or general from the armada. If you have played the game you will know how good these battles are, and what a joy the game is to play. If you still have a Dreamcast picking up dust and you don't already own this, you could do no better than to pick it up. It also came out for the Gamecube, which I believe was basically the same game.
A truly classic RPG, which deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as other classics like Final Fantasy 7, superb.