N Amer - 09/25/2006
Baten Kaitos Origins Review
On the role-playing game front, the Nintendo GameCube might not beat out the PS2 or the Xbox but it has had its share of interesting RPGs like Paper Mario 2: The Thousand-Year Door or even Skies of Arcadia. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and The Lost Ocean was another GameCube exclusive title that was not only a surprisingly interesting and fun RPG but also an original romp that deserves its place among the genre’s best titles across the various platforms. So it was good news that a sequel - well, think of it more as an Episode I-styled prequel - is now available. It’s time to spread those wings and get lost in Baten Kaitos Origins.
Origins tell the tale of Sagi, a young spiriter who has enrolled in the Dark Services as Lord Baelheit’s private guard. As a spiriter he turns to you, an unseen spirit force, to guide him on a long and interesting quest of intrigue and action. You see, in the middle of a mission, Sagi becomes involved with a plot to assassinate Emperor Olgan and suddenly nothing is what it seems in this world. In order not to give away any surprises, I’ll only say that Sagi’s story takes many confusing yet interesting twists and turns along the way. Since this is a prequel, however, we do get a look at many new areas along the way.
Once again, the use of cards is implemented and sorted out to be used in either battle or exploration. Magnus cards contain different actions and properties and making use of them is entirely up to you since they can be used during the game’s exploration parts and some can be used during battle. You can sort each deck by eliminating the cards you don’t need to use cards you use often in the game. For example, you can edit your battle deck to include armor cards as well as specialty moves. In exploration, there are moments where the Magnus quest cards pop up. At one point, you need to light a series of torches so obviously you need a flame card.
For the most part, battles are intricate and are actually difficult to manage without skimming through the instruction manual first. What should be a series of turn-based attacks turns into a strategy game where you pick through cards in an attempt to unleash fiery combos or stronger attacks. This makes fighting weak monsters you encounter in the game seem like you’re going up against heavy beasties. Yet the more you play the more you will become accustomed to the combat and soon the many battles will seem like sometimes-annoying distractions. Then again, thanks to the more than 1,000 cards you can collect in the game, you can spice up battles a little with a better variety of attacks and combos or items.
Ok, so battles suck the fun out of the game but the story will have you hooked. The game’s rich world is filled with a lot to see and do and there’s plenty of side quests to complete. Without going into much detail and spoil the many plot twists and turns, Origins will have you playing all the way to the end. It’s also the type of game that will have you completing as many of the side quests as possible even if you’re not the type of gamer that wants to collect every extra thing a game has to offer.
Graphically, Origins looks pretty good on the GameCube. While the character models really don’t stand out, they manage to pull off some dazzling combat moves. The enemies aren’t repetitive either, meaning you will go up against dozens of different species. As far as the backgrounds are concerned, the environments look great but nothing that really stands out. The game’s score, on the other hand, works beautifully as does the sound effects. While there is text dialogue, there are various moments where the game uses voice acting. The voice acting is actually pretty good in places while at other times it sounds a bit forced.
Baten Kaitos Origins might not be as brilliant as the first game in the series but it is still a role-playing game worth your time and money if you’re looking for a good RPG for your GameCube. Let’s face it, the GameCube could have used more juicy originals like this but what a good way to send off a system by delivering yet another challenging game with an excellent story to boot. If you’re new to the series I suggest you give it a try as a rental but fans of the first game will want to buy this one right away.
|Review Scoring Details for Baten Kaitos Origins|
There is a lot of ground to cover in this world and exploring the game world is a treat itself. The story is a good one, although a bit complex in parts. As for the game’s battle system, be prepared to spend a good deal of the game making heads or tails of the combat.
Visually, Origins looks good on the GameCube and most of the backgrounds really stands out. The character models look pretty decent but it’s the visual effects that really stand out.
The game’s soundtrack is actually handled beautifully with soft mellow moments for the exploration or key cutscenes and heavy rock riffs for the battles. It’s nothing really impressive but it works beautifully throughout the game. There’s even some voice acting that’s actually not bad at all.
The battles will be drawn out into lengthy events so even going up against a weak enemy will seem like you’re locked in a battle of epic proportions. The first challenge is coming to learn and accept the battle card system but the more you play the more you’ll become use to the turn-based action.
There are literally over a thousands cards to collect and use in the game and the side quests are actually more fun later in the game. The real heart of the game is playing in this interesting universe filled with neat characters although Sagi’s wings could have been put to even more interesting use in the exploration bits throughout the game.
Probably the only thing that would stop newcomers and casual RPG gamers from buying this game is Origin’s difficulty setting but fans of the first game will have a lot to like about this prequel. It not only tosses you into an interesting world with plenty of quests, cards and battles but it also tells a complex yet compelling tale. This is a 'must buy' for continuing fans of the series.
GameZone Review Detail
Baten Kaitos Origins might not be as brilliant as the first game in the series but it is still a role-playing game worth your time and money if you’re looking for a good RPG for your GameCube
Reviewer: Natalie Romano
Review Date: 10/18/2006