Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jan 162017

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean is one of those games I’ve meant to play for years and finally got around to.

(I played it at the same time as a friend, who also reviewed it. This was one of my main motivations to finally pull it out of my backlog of doom.)

Anyway, I enjoyed Baten Kaitos, and it’s one of the more unique JRPGs I’ve seen.

First, the combat system is card-based. You set up a deck for each character in advance, and cards (referred to as magnus) are selected from that deck randomly at the start of each battle. During your turn, you select these cards to attack.

The cards are numbered, and these numbers let you get “prizes,” such as selecting cards with matching numbers or numbers that go in order. Your damage is multiplied for doing this.

During the enemy’s turn, you also select defense cards to defend. Everything is handled through the card system, and although a timer forces you to choose your cards quickly, I greatly preferred this to the action card-based combat in Chain of Memories.

Most cards can also be combined in special combos to form new cards. For example, if you have a sculpting knife magnus that says it can be used to carve wood, and you have a wood magnus, you can use them together to get a wooden carving. This can be fun, although also a little frustrating, since some combinations are obscure, many require you to use them in a certain order, and you have to wait in battle for all the cards in the combination to show up in your hand (which is random).

Many cards also change with the passage of time, like milk turning into cheese. Baten Kaitos is either a dream or a nightmare for completionists.

This isn’t the only thing that makes it unique, though. You, the player, are actually acknowledged in the game as a separate being. You are a Guardian Spirit who has bonded with the main character Kalas, you tell the characters your name and gender, and they directly address you and ask your opinion from time to time.

It’s an unusual bit of meta commentary/fourth-wall-breaking that feels odd at first, but works out nicely.

The game is set in a world made up of floating islands. Each island has its own culture and unique style, and you’ll travel from island to island in an attempt to stop the devastating End Magnus from being unleashed. You’ll encounter many battles, side quests, and a few puzzles, and the locations are pretty varied and interesting.

Although I never formed a strong attachment to any of the characters, I found them to be likable and entertaining (especially The Great Mizuti). The story itself is intriguing enough, with some great moments and revelations, including one plot twist I never saw coming.

Click for major Baten Kaitos spoiler
Someone in the party is a traitor? That’s common enough. The traitor is the MAIN CHARACTER?! That stunned me.

Most games can’t get away with that, since the player is supposed to be in control of the main character. Baten Kaitos, however, clearly makes you a separate being from Kalas, which allows it to pull off such a twist.

Now, the voice acting is not good. I don’t often comment on voice acting, but there were points where I had to fight amusement in serious scenes because of it. The voices themselves aren’t the problem so much as their delivery, with unnatural pauses, odd emphasis and inflection, and a general sense that the actors didn’t know what emotion to convey.

But whether you suppress your amusement or just turn the voices off, look past the voice acting and you’ll find a well-written story and an exciting journey.

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean is a unique JRPG and one well-worth experiencing if you can find a copy. And who knows? Maybe we’ll get that third game someday.

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  2 Responses to “Baten Kaitos is a Unique JRPG”

  1. […] enjoyed Baten Kaitos, but I still need to play Origins. Beyond hoping for Baten Kaitos ports or remasters […]

  2. […] a collection of both Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean and Baten Kaitos Origins! I had a great time with the first Baten Kaitos, although I haven’t played Origins yet. I’m so happy to see […]

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