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Review – Baten Kaitos

posted on February 5th, 2006 by jay
Cloud town
A visually appealing, but cloudy town. These things happen when you live in the sky.

Sidequests are all based around what the game calls quest cards. A quest card is a blank card that can hold the essence of some object on it. An example of a sidequest is a little girl asks for an apple, you run to the apple stand, trap the essence of an apple on a quest card, then deliver it to the girl (who should wonder why you gave her a piece of paper instead of an apple). The problem with sidequests is you only have a few quest cards to fill with object essences and too many objects appear. So in the first town you have one quest card and there are three objects to pick up. Which do you chose? Your guess is as good as mine. So then you reach someone who wants something, but you picked the wrong object to trap in your card. This can be fixed if you are on the same island as the object they need, but more often than not, you aren’t. Quests then boil down to a random guessing game. Try to pick object essences you’ll need at a point in the future for some unforeseen event. Fun. By the time you are allowed to travel the world freely, you probably won’t want to.

And that’s because the story sucks. The plot doesn’t gain any momentum until 15 hours in and even then it is still clichéd and uninteresting. Evil empire, dark god being resurrected, lead character who doesn’t remember his past, princesses hiding their identity, blah, blah, blah. The characters aren’t very interesting and they have stupid weapons, like a horn or an oar. Note the multiple levels of absurdity here, characters actually attack with a card that has a horn on it. To make sure you know the plot isn’t very good, Namco hired community theater actors then ran their voices through a few effects loops. Everyone sounds distorted when they act their badly written lines poorly, and that’s just one too many layers of suck.

The game is too long. This is mostly because once you’ve had your fill of very entertaining card battles, the plot keeps going. An RPG that has a good story but bad gameplay is easier to play through then one like Baten Kaitos. It was very hard to fight the urge to put down the game forever. I suppose if I gave a shit about Kalas, his guardian spirit Shotizzle, or the great Mizuti, I’d want to keep playing. The good news is maybe you have bad taste and will enjoy the plot.

A weird in probably a bad way design. Those horns must make eating from a troft very dangerous.

Despite the terrible voice acting, the music is usually excellent. Excellent if you like cheesy 80’s metal, at least, which I do. No life till leather. There is a song or two that is so god-awful you wonder if the composer wrote it as his personal revenge against humanity. The game looks very good and makes a lot of use of bold colors. The design is both beautiful and somewhat odd. Not odd like Tim Burton odd, more of a neutral leaning towards bad odd. My favorite town in the game is really well conceived and a good odd, it reminds me of Psychonauts, which is a big compliment as far as visual design goes.

Baten Kaitos should be played by any fans of card based games and any RPG fan that has an open mind about gameplay. The battle system is extremely entertaining and should keep you amused for a good 20 hours. After that, unless the only literature you’ve ever read is Final Fantasy X, you will probably want to play something with fewer deadly attacking oar cards.

4 out of 6 cards in my hand


  1. Shota said on March 12, 2008:

    Awwwe, Jay. You mentioned shotizzle way before i was part of this site. I’m touched. Did i tell you that i now go by sho3zzle.

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