Baten Kaitos
Reviewed: 09/15/2004


Namco has been known for making rather interesting RPGs. The Tales series (Tales of Destiny, Symphonia, etc.), the Xenosaga games, and now, Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (Wow, is that a long title or what?).

You take the role of Kalas, a cocky young man with a tragic past and the rather unfortunate defect of having been born with only one wing, in a world full of floating islands. This is an abnormal defect to have, because most people have two wings. Kalas is accompanied by a being known as a “Guardian Spirit” which grants its partner various powers. The story revolves around mysterious and powerful objects known as “End Magnus,” which have the power to revive an ancient god of destruction and bring about utter annihilation of all things pink and squishy. So what’s a guy to do? Round up a bunch of companions and go stop it! With… Cards?

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They’re not that scary…

Yes. Baten Kaitos uses cards in the battle system. This, however, is by no means a bad thing. Battles are easy enough to avoid if it’s necessary, with enemies appearing on screen, but once you do get into a battle, you’re stuck taking them down with small rectangular pieces of cardboard. Players will stock their deck with “Magnus” which can contain the essence of essentially anything in one handy, easy-to-carry card. Weapons, armor, food–it’s all here. Different cards have different strengths, so you’ll want to stock your deck with strong cards (obviously). Most cards also have one of six different elemental attributes, allowing one to exploit an enemy’s weakness fairly effectively. One thing to watch out for though is that pairing a card with its opposing element will nullify both card’s effectiveness, so watch out. Every card also possesses from 1 to 4 Spirit Numbers, ranging from 1 to 9, allowing for pairs and straights which increases the cards’ power if used correctly. This works for attack cards, defense cards, and healing cards. Another thing to be wary of is that quite a number of cards can change over time, changing its type and effects. For example, a bamboo shoot will heal HP, but given enough time, will grow into young bamboo, which can be used as a weapon, and eventually into a fishing pole, which can also be used as a weapon. Ice will melt, food will rot, and so on. So it’s important to keep track of what cards you have in your deck, how long you’ve had them, and what they’ll turn into if they age long enough.

Leveling up works slightly differently in Baten Kaitos as well. Instead of automatically leveling up once the required EXP total has been reached, players must make a visit to a mysterious church located in the deep nether regions of the outer dimensions, with convenient entrances located at any handy giant blue-green save flower. Visiting the church will allow you to level up your characters (with obvious benefits) and gaining a class level, which requires special items for each character but allows for increased deck and hand size.

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Who would let a flower this big grow inside?

Visually, this game suffers from what I like to call, “WTF Syndrome.” The graphics themselves are phenomenal, but some characters (especially the shop owners *shudder*) look a bit…creepy. The backgrounds and monsters are awesome though. Audio-wise… Well, before you even start playing the game, make sure that the voice acting is turned off. The music is very well done, and Motoi Sakuraba is continuing to show his musical genius, but the voice acting is off in a different dimension somewhere. I’m almost positive some of these “actors” were pulled off the street and offered $50 to say a few lines into a microphone. Pertaining to the score I gave the sound/music below, bump it up three points if you decide to shut off the voice acting. Believe me, it makes the game a lot better.

Overall, Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (title… too… long…) is an enjoyable RPG that features a deep card-based battle system, beautiful backgrounds, crappy voice acting, awesome music, and a rather stereotypical plot. Fans of RPGs that also happen to own GameCubes might be well advised to pick up this title, if the card system doesn’t scare you away.

-Quinton Alexander

Score Breakdown
Very Good
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Very Good
Story Below Average
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Good
Replay Value Below Average
The Verdict: 7