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Namco / Nintendo






T (Teen)



September 25, 2006




- Interesting story to pull you along

- Complex, deep card-battle system

- Nice, old-school pre-rendered environments



- Random encounters can slow the game to a crawl

- Boss battles tend to be a bit difficult

-Puzzles require too much back-tracking



Review: Baten Kaitos (GC)

Review: Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GC)

Review: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GC)



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Baten Kaitos: Origins

Score: 7.5 / 10


Baten Kaitos Origins is the latest Baten Kaitos game from Namco.  It is a prequel to one of the GameCube’s most popular RPGs and the GameCube has such a dearth of RPG titles that any RPG is greeted with open arms and I was excited to get to review Origins.  Unfortunately, the game has some real problems that dull its strengths a bit, but , eventually, the game ends being one of the cube’s best RPGs.


baten kaitos origins          baten kaitos origins


Baten Kaitos Origins is a so-called card-based RPG.  For those unfamiliar, the card-based element of card-based RPGs usually only come into play during combat, though with BK Origins there is some use of cards in the adventure portion of the game also—mostly to solve light environmental puzzles.  In Baten Kaitos, as in most of these games, players accumulate new cards as they play that can be made into decks to be used in combat.  The deck building interface is simple and it is always pretty evident what you need to do with your decks as new cards are collected.


The story of Baten Kaitos is straightforward.  It is set two decades before the original game and focuses on the character of Sagi, a young warrior with the ability to communicate with a guardian spirit.  The game opens with an 




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assassination gone wrong that is blamed on Sagi — forcing him to go on the run.  From that point on, the story takes a few twists and turns as Sagi works to save himself and challenge the evil that threatens the land.  On the whole, the plot is interesting and the voice over work is excellent.  The story flows smoothly and is quite engaging, though so many random battles occur in between bits of plot that it is sometimes easy to forget the current plot line.



Combat is based on cards, as said above.  The combat system is pretty complex, though it isn’t too hard to get used to.  Basically all cards have action numbers that dictate when they can be played and playing a sequence of cards allows for more powerful attacks and the activation of special abilities and multi-character combos.  The special attacks and character combos are not just pretty: they are invaluable.  The boss battles in the game are so hard it becomes an imperative to set up combos and save up powerful attacks.  Still, many of the battles took me multiple attempts.  A couple were truly annoying.


baten kaitos origins          baten kaitos origins


Also annoying were some of the environmental puzzles.  None are too hard, but I was really annoyed by the fact that the game would hit you with wandering monster encounters while you were moving between puzzle elements.  Even easy battles can last a while in the game and it would have been great to be able to skip “done deal” kind of encounters with a button press.


The graphics for the game are okay.  I enjoyed the creature models, though some of my co-workers were unimpressed with the polygon counts.  The 2D world is very pretty, though the lack of depth sometimes makes finding the path to travel on needlessly difficult.


Value for the buck-wise, Baten Kaitos is awesome.  The main game takes between 35 and 40 hours to play through and side quests could add maybe five to eight hours to that.  Anyone with a GameCube and an RPG jones would do well picking up Baten Kaitos Origins.


- Danny Webb

(November 13, 2006)


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