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Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (GameCube) artwork

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (GameCube) review


"The Ocean; a vast area of water over millions of square kilometers, many points reaching a depth of under thirty kilometers below sea level. Creatures survive in spite of water pressure that would make a human explode in under a thousandth of a second, utter lack of sunlight, and very little botanical wildlife. Despite manís subjugation of land over tens of thousands of years, the Ocean is a mysterious place that we know little of. "



The Ocean; a vast area of water over millions of square kilometers, many points reaching a depth of under thirty kilometers below sea level. Creatures survive in spite of water pressure that would make a human explode in under a thousandth of a second, utter lack of sunlight, and very little botanical wildlife. Despite manís subjugation of land over tens of thousands of years, the Ocean is a mysterious place that we know little of.

The Galaxy; Ancient civilizations built great monuments to stars and supposed gods of the celestial above. Planetary bodies, stars, or the entire span of the universe itself, all of them were worshipped by religions that evolved underneath the heavenís guidance. Just like the Ocean, humankind knew precious little of Space until just recently.

Playing on the common manís ignorance of these two vast enigmas, Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean sees a colorful world where the Earth has been ravaged and poisoned and the Ocean sucked up by an evil god of yore known as Malpercio, and five continents in the sky being the last stronghold of humanity. Certainly, though, there seems to be no present danger as you take on the role of the Guardian Spirit Ė an otherworldly force that guides young Kalas, a man on a death-hunt fueled by vengeance for the murder of his grandfather and brother. Waking up in Cebelrai Village, a farming hamlet tucked away in the mountains of Sadal Suul, everything seems peaceful, with an aura of dandiness. Lavishly bright trees and a calm forest nearby illustrate this neatly.

But then you realize. The people are scared. Consciously, they know nothing, and play out their roles as the commonfolk. What they refuse to admit to themselves is that their millennium of peace will come to an end, and that end is now. Getting involved in the affairs of the highly-abhorred Empire, Kalas gathers a motley crew of allies. This is where Baten Kaitos becomes crazy, because these characters are believeable. Kalas relentlessly pursues those whom slew his family in cold blood, whereas Xelha wants to stop the Empire from gathering the End Magnus; powerful magical artifacts that, when all five of them are together, can revive the wicked Malpercio. Put them together, and they stay the same way. Only through a drawn-out storyline do their biased objectives change ever so slightly to match up, and then the truth comes out; you can feel the change. Fisherman Gibari, willing to go only his own way, will soon turn into a diplomatic gentleman coherent of thinking out the situation beforehand. Imperial rebel Lyude, at first a coward before his superiors, forsakes his false fears and meet them with a coat of courage. Savyna, huntress with a dark past, comes out of her cold composure and deals with prior events that have haunted her ever since. The Great Mizuti, a magician of the underworld, eventually learns that being Great is more than just a word, but a reputation.

At first, the story is slow, as your cast of extraordinary heroes pursues the Empire to getting each of the End Magnus, just barely missing out on each of them. But then, BAM! Starting in the Flame Caves of Alfard, several major plot twists occur, each more convoluted than the other yet still beautifully entwined, all of them emotionally backed by the legendary (although underrated) composer Motoi Sakuraba of Tales series, El Viento, and Golden Sun fame. Just when you think youíre able to predict the next line of events, the duo studios of Monolith Soft and tri-Crescendo throw out another excellently executed development. When you finally foresee correctly another twist, then comes the hammering truth; Baten Kaitos takes your prediction, and smashes whatever disappointment you wouldíve expected with a positively brilliant and badass enhancement to the scenario of said plot twist that you had in mind. Baten Kaitos might be clichť, but it exploits every storyline detail so well that it invokes deep thought and emotion, especially leaving you bound after the megaton of an ending. The game doesnít care about what you think; it just intends to leave you in your seat, jaw open, eyes staring, mind blank, and it does it so perfectly that you would build an altar and shrine to the Namco executive whom might announce a sequel to Baten Kaitos.

Of course, only using two of three unknown realms wasnít enough for Monolith Soft and tri-Crescendo.

Throughout the duration of the game, you collect items termed as Magnus. You use these Magnus in battle much like you would with cards and a deck, and can only have so big a hand and so big a deck. Each Magnus serves a specific purpose, whether it be attacking, defending, or healing, and using certain Magnus together can net you a more powerful Magnus that combines the attributes of the two/three Magnus you used to obtain it.

But what is really wicked is that as time passes, your Magnus age and turn into other Magnus. What once started as Chump Change turns into Vintage Coins, and finally turns into Styx Coins, which have an 80% chance of dealing Death. The procedure occurs with a lot of Magnus, awarding those with patience, as many of these Magnus take a long time to metamorph.

Of course, that alone would not be enough of a change to the generic turn-based combat system. The Monolith Soft/tri-Crescendo satanized it, churning out a semi-real-time combat system. Each Magnus has minimum one number, and four values top. By choosing your Magnus in a 1-2-3-4-5 or 9-8-7-6-5 order, pulling off pairs, trios, or more, you can nab bonuses that deal major damage to any foe, up to over 300%! Requiring quick reflexes, the bonuses reward those who can think fast; once you choose the first Magnus, your character acts out their commands, and thereís no turning back.

In the end, Baten Kaitos is a fulfilling experience with more than fourty hours for the main game, several large sidequests, and more than half a hundred mini-quests. Itís provided a fresh combat system, and has certainly made me rethink my outlook on just how capable an RPG is of providing fun. Above all, though, it answered a question Iíve been struggling with for years;

Why do I play video games, and RPGs?

When a world as powerful as Baten Kaitosís is created, backed by an awesome story, a revolutionary way to fight, the highly-underrated music composer Motoi Sakuraba, and a breath-taking atmosphere, there really is only one answer that can be concluded; fun.

Rating: 10/10

yamishuryou's avatar
Community review by yamishuryou (February 04, 2005)

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