Reviews: Baten Kaitos

Definitely worth your time.

Baten unusual name for an excellent game.

The Baten Kaitos games use an unconventional card-based battle system; I won't go into details because it's fairly complex. Unlike most JRPGs, out-of-battle items and equipment are either sidelined or completely averted. Instead, the focus is swung mostly on deck-building, which provides you with the cards you use to attack, defend, and heal in combat. Throughout the games (especially Origins), deck-building is the most important thing you'll find yourself doing.

Of course, the combat systems aren't the only thing worth paying attention to. Both games present a compelling world; Eternal Wings focuses primarily on telling a story (and what a story it is), while Origins swings greater focus on character development.

The graphics and soundtrack are both excellent; despite the 3d sprites beginning to show their age, the visual style is still greatly appealing. Each of the floating continents the game takes place on has its own unique visual style, all of which are beautifully hand-painted and detailed. The soundtracks, meanwhile, are collectively regarded as Motoi Sakuraba's best work, and for good reason; virtually every song is wonderfully appealing.

Granted, the games are not without flaws. Eternal Wings in particular is very hit-or-miss; the plot comes together beautifully, but the gameplay and presentation leave something to be desired. Origins, despite fixing many of the first game's issues, has a steep and unforgiving difficulty curve that may scare some off.

All in all, however, the Baten Kaitos games definitely need more love. If you're a fan of JRPGs, then you can't go wrong with these, and even if you're not a fan they're still worth checking out. Dig up a used copy at your local Gamestop, and your allowance will be well spent.