Just look how time flies. Here was my first “published” anything; six years ago. A review of a very underappreciated gem of an RPG from a system that had none (funny how that works), at GameFAQs. Almost everything about this game amazes me. The soundtrack, the atmosphere, the unique battle system. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t have the time to play 70-80 hour-long quests again, so being able to reminisce about it is pretty soothing. Ahh….
Quite simply one of the finest RPGs made in a long while
OK, let’s get to the point. Baten Kaitos is one of the best RPGs I have ever had the opportunity to play, and I’ve played dozens. It has one of the most beautiful worlds I’ve ever seen, a remarkable sound track, an interesting story, and a unique battle system that boasts a play time of around 40-50+ hours. To be honest, this is my first review on GameFAQs, and I felt compelled to let people know that this game is not “mediocre”, as other reviews might suggest, but a masterpiece which I hope in time it will get the recognition it deserves.
If you’ve read any other review regarding Baiten Kaitos, then more than likely they will regard this aspect the game’s weakest. However, coming from a person who has actually finished the WHOLE game, I can tell you that what is here is very nicely executed.
The first disc is very linear in its progression and has little character development. And admittedly, there are some pretty standard RPG cliches that come up during the story, but I personally did not feel they detracted from it so much as to say there’s nothing original here. Disc 2 is much more open-ended and the story starts to come together. Character development picks up a great deal during Disc 2 as well. This is not to say that the first half of the game is boring, but a general trend seen throughout the game, in many different aspects, is that it gets better as it goes on.
Normally, talking about controls for an RPG would be similar to talking about a storyline for a sports game, but there are some things worth mentioning. The battle system is very unique and is card-based (think poker, not pokemon) which make full use of every button on the GC controller; less the Z button. L and R target enemy units and ally units respectively, and tapping the L/R button one more time will switch targets. You can either use the D-pad or the control stick to pick which card to use in battle, and the C-stick to actually use the card. Everything is very easy to execute.
Here is where you’ll be spending most of your time. On average, battles usually last for a couple minutes. Some of the harder boss battles can take up to a half an hour. However, the battles themselves are so different from one to the next because you are actively involved during each attack. Your party consists of a maximum of 3 members. At first you start off with a meager deck that continually grows in how many cards you can play at one time, and how many you can have in a deck.
Combos are executed based on the “spirit number” (1 to 9) of the card which are located on the corners, which are played using the C-stick to flick it in the direction you choose, and boost your total damage based on whether you performed a “straight” or a “pair”. Straights do more damage as they are harder to pull of. For example you play 5 cards and use spirits numbers 3-3-3-2-2, this will boost your damage by a certain percentage. It’s such a simple aspect, but is really addicting and enjoyable.
It’s also worth pointing out money is handled pretty differently in this game. You never make any money by finding it or winning battles. You have to take pictures of your opponents and sell them for cash in town. It’s just something different and I thought I’d mention it.
This is simply amazing. Everything in this game is just beautiful. The character models, the locations, special moves; it just doesn’t get much better. Everything runs smoothly, and there are very little if anything loading times. There are just so many little details in every location that just makes you tip your hat to the artists.
If you’ve played Star Ocean 2 and 3, Tales of Symphonia, and Valkyrie Profile like me and liked what you heard, then you will enjoy the music in the game; as it is made by the same composer who created the soundtrack for those games. Every song is very good and there are about 60 in total. Electric guitar is prominent in most of the battle songs and even the town songs are top notch. It’s very hard to say anything bad about the music.
The game features some pretty hefty voice acting. I’d say there’s a few hours in total. There are some pretty bad voice actors (don’t listen to anybody that’s an old lady; just horrible), but I feel for the most part what’s here is good stuff. It’s not gonna win any awards, but I still suggest you keep the voices on throughout the game. There is an option that allows you to turn them off. It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of the voices on Disc 1 sound muffled. They get much better as the game goes on I assure you. There are a few possible reasons why this is so, but the most widely accepted answer is that the voices had to be compressed to fit on the disc. Honestly though, there are some pretty good voice actors here; don’t listen to IGN.
OVERALL: I haven’t had this much fun playing a videogame since I imported Shenmue II for Dreamcast. Personally, I beat Baiten Kaitos in around 76 hours, and even then I’m not done because I still haven’t found everything. There’s so many little things you can do with the townspeople it’s amazing, and the dialogue is excellent; props to localization. Sidequests include finding a man’s family for him (it’s no easy task, it’ll take up the whole game), finding pieces of broken constellation map, and discovering the games over a 1000 cards and 141 card combos; certain cards played in a specific order. I just love it how the game rewards you for talking to every person and checking every nook and cranny for that next elusive card.
Don’t let this one slip by you. If you own a Gamecube you owe it to yourself to play this game. Highly recommended.
Reviewer’s Score: 10/10, Originally Posted: 12/05/04
Link to: Original GameFAQs review