Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean is
a monumental undertaking. It's a two-disk, RPG that
could take up to 100 hours to complete. Weekend warriors
could, in all likelihood, drag this game out for a
year. But is it worth investing all those hours?
Kaitos is not much different than your classic RPG.
It features a team of heroes in a quest to avenge
all that is good while killing enemies, dungeon crawling,
leveling-up and acquiring all kinds of inventory from
health to weapons. However, the delivery is different.
The atmosphere is unique and the story is bound to
captivate you. It's not that Baten Kaitos covers any
new ground, it just kind of feels like it does.
is an enchanting story of a world that exists high
above where we used to. Let me explain: Floating islands,
high in sky, are populated with people that have evolved
wings to get them around. These wings are inextricably
linked to each person's persona and spirit of the
heart. Our adventure begins as we follow a young man
by the name of Kalas. He's only got one wing but his
grandfather has crafted a matching, mechanical one.
don't actually play as Kalas, you basically follow
him around like Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio. As
his guardian spirit you consult, confer, argue and
reason with him based on the situation at hand. The
more you agree with each other the closer the bond.
This is an interesting perspective to play with. It's
similar in concept to Mega Man as an avatar which
is essentially controlled by a third party. Eventually
you become linked to Kalas the point that you're basically
controlling him in the first person.
are card based. Not all battles are random, there
are ways to avoid some of them. Audio clues will help
you make decisions such as when a party member says
that a situation looks like trouble you would be well
advised to avoid a confrontation.
is the essence of the cards which enables you to embed
things into the cards almost like an inventory system.
You can store weapons, armor, health and other items
that will assist you in battle such as spell and elementals.
Other non-combat items can also be stored such as
food and drink and other essential tools and items
which may be traded or sold. When you hold on to some
of these items they will begin to age. It can be a
good thing or a bad thing. For instance, milk will
spoil and grapes can become poisonous. But if you
keep the grapes a bit longer they will turn to wine
and eventually vinegar. Battle items can become stronger
or more effective over time. It's fun to hold on to
something just to see what you might end up with.
cards are used for both defensive and offensive moves.
There are elemental affiliations which can be used
strategically against certain foes. Be careful when
laying out multiple cards because playing two cards
of polarized elementals will cancel out both of their
effects. Each time you play a card you will receive
new ones. Cards you play always return to your deck,
they don't disappear. The cards you receive are shuffled
at random and it's entirely possible to end up with
lots of similar cards resulting in an overall useless
interface isn't really much help as later in the game
the battles become more fast and frenzied. You don't
get much of a chance to react considering that you'd
like to examine each party members' stats to see who
needs the most attention. You will have to pay attention
to the audio sounds which indicate if it's your turn
to attack or you're being attacked. Often you will
be under attack before you know it so it's a good
idea to keep your cards defaulted for defense just
moves are very powerful cards. It's advisable to use
at least two or more in a row if you want to turn
the tide of battle in your favor. It's just unfortunate
that the battle can be decided on the luck of the
draw, which means your opponent can whip your ass
by being dealt a mitt full of these awesome cards.
Keep in mind that these cards will always remain in
your opponent's deck.
have to be leveled-up in the town church. This means
that you'll have to do some backtracking to get there,
often encountering enemies along the way.
crawling is a great way to amass items. You can store
them in the cards or take them to the market where
you can sell or trade them for more useful things.
pre-rendered backgrounds are amazingly detailed but
they are only two dimensional and not interactive.
All of the towns and cities have their own unique
architecture and culture. The sense of wonderment
and discovery is unrivaled. There are lots of voiceovers
in which you'll learn about these unique characters
as well as the characters in your party which unfortunately
we never seem to learn as much as we would like to
about them. The character models take a backseat to
the environments which dwarfs them at times by it
sheer size. Otherwise they animate fairly well and
are capable of displaying a range of emotions through
their facial animation.
the balance of gameplay elements that make Baten Kaitos
an interesting game to play. It's not particularly
memorable but it does capture you in the moment. For
a game of such length not to feel repetitive is truly
an accomplishment. Predictable maybe, but not repetitive.