Baten Kaitos Origins is the prequel to 2004's Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. The game takes place twenty years before the events of the first game and stars an all new cast with some returning but now younger characters thrown in for nostalgia sake. Having said that, there is no need to fear. Baten Kaitos Origins does not suffer from Prequel-ides and does some aspects better than it's predecessor by becoming a more accessible and more approachable game. But does this streamlining of gameplay hold it back and cause it to lose the original's robust customization? Well let's find out.
In September of 2006 Origins was released. The game was published by Nintendo themselves instead of Namco. The reasons behind why Namco didn't want to publish Origins is unknown but that being said it may of been for the best because Nintendo puts forth a far more published game than Namco did. Origins was developed almost wholly by the original hodgepodge of Monolith and Tri-Crescendo members who made up the team that worked on the previous title. Both the Co-creates returned as well. With both Yasuyuki Honne providing the art and Hiroya Hatsushiba providing all the aspects on the music and sounds side again. Making a brilliant return for this game is Composer and all around music God Motoi Sakuraba who I somehow completely shafted in my last review.
Let me make this clear Hiroya Hatsushiba is one of the co-founders of the series and was responsible for the sound department but Motoi Sakuraba is the series main composer. I feel that my last review didn't cover that and made it sound like Mr. Hatsushiba was the composer. I apologize Mr. Sakuraba somehow slipped my mind. Even I can make mistakes. For the most part the whole team from the previous game made a return. But one key member from the last game was not used. Origins story was penned by Koh Kojima instead of the original game's writer Masato Kato who has had a hand in writing both Chrono games, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy IX just to name a few. Mr. Kojima has some big shoes to fill in. So let's see how this team did.
The first thing you will notice when you start the game is that the localization is of a far better quality. But that's a matter for later on, so moving right along. The next thing you'll notice is that the game waste no time in starting. The player is introduced to a young man named Sagi. Sagi is you guessed it a Spiriter. He's awoken from a night of sleep and a dream sequence. One that I would like to add is identical to the opening movie, I'm still mad about that after all these years. Word of advice the first time you play the game don't watch the opening sequence because you're going to see the same exact three minute video again the second you hit the NEW GAME option. That was waste. Sagi may be trying to figure the dream's meaning, but all I'm trying to figure out is why the title screen is in his dream. Err . . . I digress. Sagi is awoken from his strange and almost opening movie like dream and finds himself in the military barricades of the Imperial Dark Service. Sagi is a new member of the service. He wishes to make money in order to help his small village and impoverished adopted family.
Now I'm sure your wondering just what is the Imperial Dark Service? Well it's an autonomous military unit in the Alfard Empire that only answers to Baelheit a high ranking official in the empire. These guys don't even answer to the emperor. Their above the law. And you better believe that. Sagi' first mission is to assassinate the current emperor, Emperor Olgan. Wow. If you can't tell by now the Dark Service does all of the Empires dirty work. Sagi is shocked by his orders but realizes the money is too good to turn away since his family needs all the help that it can get. After being harassed by some Servicemen and the ever vigilant Johny Young Bosch (is there a game he isn't in?) Sagi then goes to get his friend Guillo who he disguised as an assistant robot issued to all the solders called paramachina. While Guillo is mechanical in nature it is not a paramachina, Guillo is fully aware and capable of emotions and thought.
Together with Guillo, Sagi finally goes on his mission and tries to kill the emperor. Needless to say the assassination goes awry. Before Sagi can kill the emperor some mysterious other party does so. Not knowing what to do Sagi tries to flee the scene but he is caught and accused of the assassination of Emperor Olgan. Quickly Sagi makes a run for it but is stopped by giant beast called an Umbra. Sagi and Guillo are forced into a boss battle with it and all seems hopeless until something inside Guillo changes and it goes all berserker on the monster. It is as if Guillo was made to fight these monsters. Just barely escaping death the two leave. Sagi is blamed for the assassination and now wanted in the empire. While fleeing the two meet a mysterious young girl who saves them when they were in a jam. This girl is named Milliarde or Milly for short. Together the three escape the empire and try to figure what happened on that mission. What the mysterious beast was that he fought, and who that third party was. Baten Kaitos Origins has a considerably smaller cast of character when compared to the original game. The original had six while Origins only has half that at three. Since the cast is smaller though I plan to do do something different with this review and now outline each character for you. Here we go:
Sagi is a the newest member of the Imperial Dark Service and one of the youngest members to join, since he is only 15. He isn't from the Empire and just like Kalas he is a Spiriter. Sagi left his home looking to make money in order to help his adopted family. He remembers nothing of his past before his current family took him in. Sagi is kind and and has a good heart. That's why his first mission in the Dark Service distressed him. He's been suffering from strange dreams ever since before he can remember and can't figure out the meaning behind his dreams. Sagi has been friends with Guillo since he was very young. He is voiced by Crawford Wilson who is a young voice actor that is perhaps best know for his role as Jet in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Guillo is a strange living Doll that can't remember anything from it's past. Guillo was discovered by Sagi when he was young and the two have been friends since then. It is often mistaken for a robot called a paramachnia but Guillo is not one because those robots aren't sentient while Guillo is. Guillo has mostly a no none-sense personality and will often poke fun and make wise-cracks at others expense. It also doesn't seem to get along well with Milly. Guillo has some sort of connection to the mysterious beast called Umbra and whenever it is around one it loses all sense of self and will not stop until it kills the monster. Guillo has this cool thing were it is voiced by both a women and man actor at the same time. The voice sounds really cool. Male Voice: Terrence C. Carson, Female Voice: Maura Gale
Milliarde (Milly for short)
Milly is a mysterious young girl who helps to save both Sagi and Guillo from a younger Giacomo who was kicking their butts as they tried to flee the empire. Sagi decides to trust Milly even though he knows nothing about her and it is obvious she has her own agenda. Guillo doesn't trust her and never misses a chance to insult her. Milly is peppy and all around nice but not very lady-like. She claimed to of helped the two solely because she hates to see people in trouble. Milly is voiced by TV actress Shanelle Workman who has also done some voice work for some game with perhaps her biggest roles being Caren Velázquez from Dino Crisis 3 and Organization XIII member Larxene in Kingdom Hearts
So I'm sure if you read my previous review you can tell that I'm focusing a lot more effort into explaining the plot. Well there's two reasons. One reason is that I don't have to really go into great depth about the games history now since the first review covered that. Nor do I need to explain the fundamental gameplay aspects or terms like how I did in the previous review. And reason two is, well the story in this game is just by far way better and more original. Baten Kaitos 1 had a slower more formulaic plot that over time through plot-twist and character development became a very deep well written story. But Origins waste no time. From the start the story is moving and it doesn't let up. The game is less formulaic and the writing is just tighter. By reducing the members of the cast it creates better chemistry between our main characters. Mr. Kojima's writing by far exceeds the writing in the first game and delivers a powerful and emotional narrative.
The gameplay in Origins is mostly the same as Baten Kaitos 1 but has become more streamlined. This time you only have one deck that is shared between all three characters instead of each character having there own deck. Each character still has their own signature moves but now there are shared defense and attack cards. The battles are made easier by healing your party after every battle and by giving you an option to start the battle over with no punishment should you die. At first you'll think these features may break the game and make it too easy but the game really steps it up in difficulty later on and you'll need all the help you can get. The battles are also improved by aspects like replay combos and maxing out your burst level. These features let you strike up massive damage and will be necessary on the later boss fights. thankfully there not all too hard to pull off. Over all the gameplay is pretty much similar but more assessable and easier to get into. It's not as robust as the first game but it offers a more enjoyable time and will keep you entertained for hours as you try to rack up combos and max out your burst levels. It can be really fun. The leveling up is now just standard leveling up no more need to visit the church in the sky it'll happen naturally.
The localization in Origins is by far a million years ahead of the job done in the original game. Nintendo hired real voice actors and atcually picked people who haven't been all that oversaturated in the business so it's refreshing to hear them. All the acting is pretty good and the translation flow a million times better. Nintendo has dropped the old bad-phone reception thing that Namco was trying to do so you can now hear all the characters just fine and not have to worry about stupid filters. This translation is just more polished and better done than the original. Needless to say the music in the game is amazing as well. Mr. Sakuraba really is like a music god and his work deserves to be listened to. A give the OST my full approval. It is a mix of re-arranged, re-mixed songs from the original, and some new songs to bout. Over all the sound aspect of the game is flawless in all aspects acting, effects, and music won't disappoint. The game also features Yuri Lowenthal as a bat sh** insane younger Giacomo who demands to be listened to. See for yourself. It'll also help you get a grasp on the gameplay.
The original game was a landmark in GameCube graphics. It was never Final Fantasy XIII good but it boasted some of the prettiest pre-rendered backgrounds and good character animations. The battle graphics were good but nothing special. But the game had a great art direction and it beautiful hand painted art to bout. Origins is pretty much the same way. Since the Baten Kaitos world is so small though every local you visit is the same exact place you vised in the first game. There are some new villages and dungeons thrown int there but the team really did just recycle a lot of the game's graphics from the first. Not really ugly but it is lazy, and you may feel bummed by that. There are some nuances to the same places you visit though. Some of your actions you do this game explain why things look like they do in the original game. The few cutscenes there are are nice and the world is still just as pretty. Overall Origins is one of the best looking GameCube games out there.
In the end Origins does a lot right but is more like an expansion-pack to the original Baten Kaitos than it's own game. The fighting may of been revamped and better but it is still the same battle system from before. A lot of the music is re-used and a lot of the graphics too are re-used. The game is tight and well made but to anyone who played the original it really isn't anything but a better version of that game. Above that the game does go out and retcon some aspects of the Baten Kaitos world that was present in the original. Personally it's not a big deal but some fans out there like to whine and moan about it. Baten Kaitos Origins is a great RPG and is perhaps the bang that the GameCube deserved to go out with. I highly recommend the game to anyone who played and liked the first game or anyone who owns a GameCube or Wii, likes RPG's and likes card-based battle. The game is one of the best that the GameCube has to offer. So what are you waiting for? GO out and buy it.
I give Baten Kaitos Origins a 4/5. It was near perfect but the fact that it recycles a good bit from the first game holds it back. But even still the game is superior to the original and a classic. The only reason why it's score matches the original is because I can't give it a 4.5 and I refuse to say it's perfect and give it a 5 because it does have some flaws. Go out and get it.
Like before Here are some links to some of the better songs from the OST:
Chaotic Dancer 2 (Remix of Giacomo's theme):
Le Ali del Principio (was shorten and used in the Opening):
Valedictory Elegy ~Guitar Version~:
Opening Video (aka Sagi's Dream):
And for the hell of it here are more clips of bat sh** insane younger Giacomo (Minor spoilers but really it's nothing important and you can watch it and nothing will be ruined):
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I'm nothing more than just a poor college student who still lives with his parent. I'm interested in anime, manga, & video-games but I have other interest besides those three. If anyone wants … more
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Released in 2006 it serves as the prequel to the 2004 GameCube game Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Origins improves on a lot of the gameplay aspects of the original but still falls flat in some areas because of how much it recycles from the original. Overall though Origins is a fun and even better game than the first and any fan out there should buy it.