Review by SectionX2
Most underrated game of the year? You bet.
Gamecube may be dead, but there is still some life surrounding it. Baten Kaitos Origins is one of those games that make it worth dusting of your cube and enjoy a lengthy RPG for several hours.
When Baten Kaitos Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean was released 2 years ago (3 years in Japan), it got some pretty good reviews and had some unique ideas for a RPG. This game, like the first one uses a card system called Magnus. You store and battle with these cards. There are many different type of Magnus. An example is the quest Magnus that can alter items with time. Another one is the battle Magnus with items, armor and weapons. It sounds weird, but it works very well.
Now Namco Bandai is back with a prequel to the first game. This time a teen named Sagi returns to the magical land 20 years before the events in Baten Kaitos: EWLO. If you were a fan of the first game, it's very inspiring to see the familiar islands along with new areas. Everything is now tied together, and you will even encounter many familiar faces from the first game. The great war, and how the wicked god came to life is also explained. Namco does this in a very satisfying way. The story actually keeps you wanting to know more, and there are several shocking twists. You don't need to have played the first one, but it'scertainly a bonus if you did.
The pre-rendered areas are back again, and they are as beautiful as ever; from green, cloudy and lush atmosphere to dark and gritty areas. They're about the same as the first game, but a little more polished. The backgrounds in the in game battles are pretty ugly, but it's nothing that you really look at anyway.
Now here is the biggest difference. The lengthy and often unrewarding side quests from the first game have been reduced with more and fun side quests. You can now upgrade your Magnus, mix Magnus etc, and the battle system has gotten a overhaul. The battle system is turn-based and fast paced. You all share one deck, but you can customize several decks to your liking. Also introduced are relay combos. You can chain several attacks with your characters and make some serious damage. The weird combo system from the first one has been changed a lot as well and is working much better now. You still link combos with numbers, but the "poker" system from the first one is gone. But when you get the hang of it, I didn't miss the old one at all.
Motoi Sakaruba is back once again with a fantastic piece. The music in this game is great. It captures many different mood; from classical calming pieces to techno. The horrible voice acting from the first game is gone as well. Much better localization this time as Nintendo's treehouse has done it.
Difficulty and length:
BK:O is actually a lot harder. The bosses in this game will make you cuss, and you will need a good strategy on most bosses. This isn't a bad thing in my opinion. To overcome a nice challenge is always satisfying, and if you think it becomes frustrating, change your deck around until you get it. The game length is about the same as the first game which means many hours.
I am giving this game a 10/10 because the game rocks, and it deserves some hype after very lacking media attention. Not many know about this game, and if you look around on the net, you will barley find any reviews at all. I believe this game is worth some buzz, at least if you like RPGs. The story is interesting, and will keep you hooked, especially if you played the first game. The only real compliant I have is that the battle system do have a learning curve, but its great fun once you get the hang of it.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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