The Let's Play Archive

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

by Artix, Fedule

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Original Thread: O Mighty Ocean, guide us, as we journey through the darkest pit of night. [Baten Kaitos]



(This is a kinda-sorta sister thread to Argate's Xenoblade Chronicles LP which you should also check out)

The mid-2000's was a weird time for video games. With the PS2 generation in full swing, developers had finally (more or less) figured out this new-fangled 3D thing and were starting to make games that really experimented in a lot of ways. The RPG genre, though arguably a bit more resistant than most games, certainly had their own mix of ecclectic ideas - for every Dragon Quest VIII, there was Tales of the Abyss, a Final Fantasy XII, a Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, a Drakengard, a Xenosaga. But arguably, none of them were quite as weird as this game.

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean was developed by Namco and Monolith Soft for the Gamecube in 2003, and is probably single-handedly responsible for my love of weird and off-the-wall shit. On the surface, it's a fairly standard JRPG, especially by 2003 standards. It has a weird card-based combat system, and the decision to go full pre-rendered for all the backgrounds was a little odd, to be sure, but one listen to Motoi Sakuraba's soundtrack and those worries would be washed away... At least, until you actually sit down and play it. Baten Kaitos is probably the weirdest, deliberately-designed game I've ever played in my life. A "deckbuilder RPG" doesn't do it justice - to play Baten Kaitos is to play Slay the Spire and Poker at the same time...with the same cards. Your cards (including your quest items) evolve over time, quite literally - bananas ripen and then rot, ice melts, and fire goes out. The entire game has this weird, tinny filter over the voice acting to simulate the effect of not actually being in this world with the characters. Suffice to say that Baten Kaitos marches to the beat of its own drum, and it does not give a damn if you are along for the ride or not.

(It should come as no surprise that the co-developer, Tri-Crescendo, would go on to make Eternal Sonata for the PS3/360. There will be a lot of parallels with that game as we go.)

Despite the oddities, the game actually reviewed fairly well, with an 80 on metacritic (and an 8.4 user score, for what that's worth), a score which is well-deserved in my opinion. Regardless of your opinion on the game's core mechanics, it's undeniable that the game is gorgeous, with one of Sakuraba's best pre-Dark Souls soundtracks and a story that hits the mark far more than it misses. It is janky, yes, and decidedly not for everyone on a lot of levels, but I love it to death.

My partner in crime, Fedule, has never played this game. He has only heard of it by reputation, which I suspect is the case for a lot of you as well (unless you cheated and read Overrated Sage's excellent LP of it), so let's try and keep the spoilers under control, yeah? Do not post anything we have not seen in a video yet outside of spoiler tags. Updates will be Mondays and Fridays unless otherwise noted.

Table of Contents

Disc One

Part 0: Introduction
Part 1: Cebalrai, the Farming Hamlet
Part 2: Moonguile Forest
Part 3: Nunki Valley
Part 4: Pherkad, the Ancient Capital
Part 5: Lord Rodolfo's Mansion
Part 6: Nashira, the Fishing Village
Part 7: Lesser Celestial River
Part 8: Cloud Passage
Part 9: Sheliak, the Castle Town
Part 10: Castle Elnath
Part 11: The Shrine of Winds
Part 12: Komo Mai, the City of Flowers
Part 13: Ancient Library of Magic
Part 14: Holoholo Jungle
Part 15: Opu, the Waterfall Village
Part 16: The Celestial Tree
Part 17: Heart of the Tree
Part 18: The Trail of Souls
Part 19: Portal to an Outer Dimension
Part 20: Parnasse, the Confectionery Village
Part 21: Detourne, the Mystical Garden
Part 22: Reverence, the Picture Book Village
Part 23: Nekton, the Shrine of Spirits
Part 24: Balancoire, Borough of Illusion
Part 25: Coccolith, Labyrinth of Mirrors

Disc Two

Part 26: Mintaka, the Imperial Capital
Part 27: The Battleship Goldoba
Part 28: Azha, the Mining Village
Part 29: The Lava Caves
Part 30: Mintaka Imperial Fortress
Part 31: Interdimensional Cracks (Part 1)
Part 32: Interdimensional Cracks (Part 2)
Part 33: Interdimensional Cracks (Part 3)
Part 34: The Ice Cliffs of Gomeisa
Part 35: Cursa, the Snowy City
Part 36: Kaffaljidhma, Castle of Ice
Part 37: Mintaka Imperial Fortress Redux
Part 38: The Sanctum of Malpercio
Part 39: A Moment of Respite
Part 40: The Labyrinth of Duhr
Part 41: Gemma Village
Part 42: Capella, the Garden of Death
Part 43: Zosma, Tower of Stones
Part 44: Algorab Village
Part 45: Larikush's Confession
Part 46: The Celestial Alps
Part 47: The Phantom Goldoba
Part 48: Nihal Desert
Part 49: Revenge of the Tower of Zosma
Part 50: The Illusory Fortress
Part 51: Greater Celestial River
Part 52: The Plan
Part 53: Cor Hydrae Castle (Part 1)
Part 54: Cor Hydrae Castle (Part 2)
Part 55: The Final Battle
Part 56: O Mighty Ocean...
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