Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (Gamecube) Review


Well, its finally here. After a good few years of development Namcos gun RPG has finally been released. When compared with other consoles the cube hasnt exactly been showered with a large quantity of RPGs with the most notable ones being Paper Mario, and Tales of Symphonia, both of which were of high quality creating a hard act for Baten Kaitos follow. The game promises much, including an innovative battle system and over 60 hours of gameplay. Does it live up to expectations and the quality of the other cube RPGs? Read on to find out.

The storyline is typical of most RPGs. You, a guardian spirit must guide your party of characters through the story and battles. You begin as but one character. The blue haired hero Kalas, who awakens in a strange village with no memory of past events. However this world is different, in that it consists solely of islands floating in the sky. Players can travel between these islands using turtle-like creatures that fly through the sky. The humans in the game are also winged due to their years of living in the sky, but there are legends that humans once lived on the poisoned earth below, which was destroyed in a war against the gods a thousand years before. Its up to you and Kalas to defeat an evil emperor hell-bent on resurrecting an evil god and to restore the world to its original form. Hey, someones gotta do it.

The battles are centred around magical cards called magnus. These cards can be used to trap the essence of objects for later use. Each character has a deck of magnus. They use this deck when fighting battles against enemies. Magnus in battle have a variety of different uses and attributes. They can be used for purposes such as attacking, defence and recovery. Your deck begins with a max of 20 cards, which can be increased during the game by finding power ups. Battles begin whenever you run into enemies in one of the games many locales. Up to three of your party members can participate in each battle. The battle system is turn based, with each character having an attack and defence phase.

Beginning with attacking, you can play a certain number of attack magnus corresponding to your combo level. This increases with your deck capacity. Once you have completed your combo, your turn ends and damage is calculated. Now comes one of the more innovative and interesting aspects of the battle system. Earlier card attributes were mentioned. There are six attributes or elements in the game. Fire, Water, Dark, Light, Wind and Chronos. Depending on which elements you choose you can do more or less damage to enemies. More if you select their weakness, less if you select their strength. The elements also correspond. Fire and water, dark and light and wind and chronos. Playing two cards of opposite elements causes their effects to cancel each other out, meaning that you have to choose your combos carefully before you begin and plan ahead, which becomes harder as the higher your level gets the less time you have to pick your cards. Finally, on top of all this, the cards have spirit numbers. Each card can have up to four. Playing cards of the same number or in order gives a percentage addition to the final damage. Defending works much in the same way. The battle system appears complicated at first but the learning curve is relatively small with players getting the gist of the system within one or two hours. Once understood the battle system is, in truth, nothing short of addictive.

Battles aside, the game plays much like any other RPG. Experience points are still earned from every battle, however your characters dont level up immediately. A visit to the church in another dimension (yes a church) is required to level up your characters stats. Money is earned in a different way also. Instead of earning money from each battle, youre required to use camera magnus during battle to take pictures of enemies, which you can then sell in the shops. One of the games main aims is to collect every single one of the 1000+ magnus that exist, which is no easy task. In order to collect them all youll need the help of time. Sound strange? Baten Kaitos employs a real time gameplay system. Items in your possession change over time, sometimes for the better sometimes for worse. For example, in one quest a cook requires some cheese. There is no place you can find cheese, but if you get milk it will gradually turn to yoghurt and then cheese. Time is often necessary to complete the games many side quests and is integral to gameplay. Food rots, useless coins turn to valuable antiques and then weapons of dark destruction. In fact discovering all the different magnus in the game this way is actually a lot of fun. In conclusion to the gameplay Baten Kaitos shoots a bullseye.

To be blunt the graphics are exactly what youd expect. The many forests, caves and towns that are visited throughout the game are pre-rendered beautifully. From the lush Moonguile Forest, to the dramatic splendour of the cloud city of Diadem. No problems there. Next we come to the battle graphics and animation. Each background has a nice character to it created using advanced textures and lighting, which contributes to the atmosphere of battle. Animations on the characters are flawless. Theyre smooth and fluent, with every attack carefully animated to the utmost of detail to the point where most battles look absolutely stunning. The game never drops below 60 fps either. In short the graphics make the perfect contribution to the gameplay.

I suppose things were proceeding all too nicely. Baten Kaitos does have one horrible, unforgiving flaw. The voice acting. There is no expression in the characters voices in the slightest. Dont get me wrong, some of the main characters voices border on being OK, such as Kalas, but after hearing what most of the others have to offer youll find yourself avoiding speaking to people in the game, especially old ladies. The reason being because they sound like a constipated automated phone message. Like the kind you get when you ring telstra. It is so bad in some cases that it detracts from the story, to the point where non-narrated text would be preferable. Considering how good the other aspects of the game are, to let something as simple as the voice acting be ruined is a shame on Namcos part. On the other hand the music to the game is nice. Not overly spectacular, but still very good. Overall the sound is all right, but the voice narration detracts severely from its score.

Final thoughts
If you even remotely like RPGs then go out and buy this game. Itll keep you captivated for hours on end and have you hunting down every last one of the 1000+ magnus and completing every side quest. In comparison to the competition, its the best. Honestly speaking I can say its the very best RPG on the cube. Disappointments about the quality of the voice acting aside, Baten Kaitos is a truly captivating experience. The gameplay is a perfect mix of RPG action with the perfect dash on the side of puzzling action and problem solving. For the trooper or the hardcore player, Baten Kaitos is an RPG with a breath of fresh air. Get the game. Trust me you wont regret it.


Graphics 9.0

Gameplay 9.9

Sound 7.0

Tilt 9.9

Value 9.9

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Dale Neville

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