Baten Kaitos Origins
|Baten Kaitos Origins|
North American cover art
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Baten Kaitos Origins (バテン・カイトスII 始まりの翼と神々の嗣子 Baten Kaitosu II: Hajimari no Tsubasa to Kamigami no Shishi, lit. Baten Kaitos II: Beginning of the Wings and the Heir of the Gods) is a 2006 role-playing video game first unveiled at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show by Namco and Monolith Soft. The official name was revealed at E3 2006 on May 10, 2006.
It is the second game in the Baten Kaitos series, and a prequel to Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Unlike the first game which was published by Namco in Japan, North America and Europe, the prequel was published in these regions by Nintendo except for Europe, where the game was never released. It was released on February 23, 2006 in Japan, and in North America on September 25, 2006.
Unlike typical role-playing games, the Baten Kaitos series uses a mechanism where everything in the game is stored on magical Magnus cards. Rather than equipping characters with weapons and armor, these are drawn from the deck during battles and equipped only temporarily. Hence, equipment and even attack types exist as cards, rather than as statistics associated with the characters. Because of this, many of the game's quests provide new Magnus cards as rewards, which can then be incorporated into decks as needed.
The combat system is substantially different when compared to that of the original Baten Kaitos. Instead of each character having their own deck of Magnus cards, all characters use cards from a single deck and play from a single hand. Since most armor, weapons, and special attacks are specific to a given character, there are frequently times when one or two of the characters have only a very limited number of options. Because of this streamlining, the game focuses primarily on increasingly numbered card combos, instead of some of the more elaborate combinations that were possible in Baten Kaitos. Nonetheless, it is possible for one to maintain separate decks (such as a fire-based deck, a heal-heavy deck, etc.) and to then switch to the appropriate deck as needed between fights. Combat is more speed driven, and the player does not need to use a turn to 'reshuffle' their deck, as cards are automatically recycled as they're disposed.
As before, the game uses a separate Quest Magnus mechanism which allows various key items to be stored on blank cards. This is expanded from the first game, giving the player a much larger amount of blank Magnus (nearly 3 times as many as the first game), and a much larger variety of magnus, which can provide bonuses or negative effects. These items can be used at the appropriate time, or can be combined using a Magnus Mixer. In many cases, the quest Magnus cards age and decay over time. For example, pristine water slowly becomes drinking water, which then becomes stale water. Battle Magnus can be "upgraded" by being combined with proper Quest Magnus. For example, the battle magnus "Saber", can be combined with the Quest Magnus "Blaze" to create a stronger Battle Magnus, "Flame sword". In contrast to the previous game, the Battle Magnus cards which make up the combat decks don't decay or change over time.
The game also features several new locales, such as Sedna, a town that looks like it's made of childish clay sculptures, and Hassaleh, a new continent that didn't appear in the first game. Sedna is composed of different Magnus pieces which, as the player discovers and returns with the appropriate Magnus cards, spontaneously appear. As the town grows, the player can then interact with the new inhabitants.
Baten Kaitos Origins takes place 20 years prior to the events of the original Baten Kaitos. The main character, Sagi, works for the Alfard Empire in an elite unit, the Dark Service, that reports directly to a powerful politician, Lord Baelheit. He is joined by Guillo, who, while resembling a Paramachina, or mechanized puppet, is actually sentient and animated by magic. At the start of the game, the unit is given a dubious assignment to assassinate Emperor Olgan, although the ultimate source of the order is unclear. Before the two have a chance to actually carry out or reflect on the morality of this act, Olgan is killed by a third party. Blamed for the murder, Sagi and Guillo are then forced to flee. During their escape, they encounter a giant beast called an Umbra, which Guillo has been mysteriously programmed to defeat. While trying to leave the city, they meet up with the third member of the party, a young woman named Milly. The three of them must work to clear Sagi's name while trying to uncover the nature of the threat caused by the maneuvering of Alfard's various power-hungry politicians, as they work under Alfard's Quaestor Verus.
The overall theme is that of a struggle between pro-magnation (the power of hearts, wings of the heart, and magic) and pro-machination (mechanical) forces.
The main enemy in Baten Kaitos Origins eventually turns out to be a being named Wiseman, a sorcerer with a thirst to turn every being in the world into pure Magnus. As Sagi, Milly and Guillo go back and forth between the present and a "dream world", they eventually discover the reason why the evil god Malpercio was created. Near the end of the game, it is revealed that the spirit which the player actually plays is connected to that world, and that Sagi is not a spiriter at all, but is instead part of the Empire's malideiter project. This came about as a result of experiments which Lord Baelheit was ordered to perform on behalf of Emperor Olgan in an effort to create artificial spiriters, rivaling their power with Malpercio's afterlings. Although the experiments were ultimately abandoned after a mishap, the test subjects were released still containing pieces of Malpercio. Years later, while stopping the maniacal plots of the politicians, Sagi learns of his true nature and must attempt to reach equilibrium with the being inside him or risk certain death.
Slightly later in the tale, Milly's true intentions are revealed, as well as her past, and connection to Baelheit. Near the ending, Baelheit also reveals that Milly is half-Machina; when she was just a child, a failed experiment (along the lines of the one which created Sagi's "spirit") tore her in half and killed her mother. With the help of his own guardian spirit, Baelheit managed to revive Milly using Machina.
Perhaps one of the greatest obstacles encountered during the quest is the Machina Vanguard, consisting of three high-ranking Mintaken officers, Valara, Heughes and Nasca (who is Heughes' younger brother), who report to Lord Balheit. They hold the power of Machina Armas, the strongest weapons in Machina warfare, and thwart the plans of Sagi and his comrades several times over the course of the adventure. However, after joining powers with the force inside him, Sagi acquires immense strength. With this strength, he is finally able to defeat the Machina Vanguard that were pro-machinating each of the floating continents. He then sets off to defeat Baelheit once and for all. In the interim, though, Baelheit finishes construction on a huge flying fortress built completely out of machina called Tarazed. He orders that everyone move onto the fortress, as he intends to destroy the continents. Verus orders Sagi to stop Baelheit, and although Sagi does so, Verus reveals he has been pulling the strings and using the group for his own ends. The group defeats him, but Wiseman, who had possessed Verus, attacks the group. With the aid of the members of Malpercio, Sagi is able to defeat Wiseman, but this leads to Tarazed's collapse.
In a mad panic, Sagi, Milly and Guillo flee, trying to escape, eventually succeeding, but through sacrifice. The final flight is further aided by defeated villains, Nasca, Heughes and Valara, all of whom do their part in helping the party to escape (although this depends on previous player decisions in sparing their lives). Guillo also sacrifices itself to save Sagi, but it is heavily implied that Sagi salvages Guillo's head from its body.
When Sagi and Milly return to Alfard, the two have a happy reunion with all of their past friends and the various rulers of the continents. Finally, Sagi and Milly decide to elope and move to Mira. Sagi and the power within decide that they will be together forever, and wherever life takes them (although this depends on the choice of the player as well). In a post-credits scene, Verus's prior assistant Geldoblame returns to Alfard and decides to become the new emperor. He tells his senators to locate the five End Magnus as well as to bring him a man named Georg, and laughs maniacally.
The last screen is a picture of a baby, and although many things hint to this baby being Kalas (as only one wing is visible), others theorize that this is instead Melodia, mostly because Kalas was a failed attempt at the creation of the divine child by Georg. In addition, Milly's dress and hair style is similar to the way Melodia's, and her hair color is the same as Sagi's, hinting that Sagi and Milly are Melodia's parents at the end of the game when they go to live in Mira (Melodia's home).
The title features three main playable characters, as well as numerous other non-playable characters, many of whom are returning from Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean.
The existence of the second Baten Kaitos game was first mentioned in Famitsū as one of the titles to be unveiled at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show. Originally planned for release in December of that year, it actually didn't see store shelves until several months later, in February.
Unlike a number of other GameCube titles in development, Baten Kaitos Origins did not make the jump to the Wii, despite the console's announcement prior to the title being released. Asked to explain why, producer Hirohide Sugiura explained, "Because we were almost finalising the development of the game when Wii was announced, we determined that transplanting it onto Wii was not worth the cost and labour hours. And since Wii is very unique hardware, we thought we should start from the basic game design if we [were to] make [a] game for Wii".
When asked about a further sequel during an IGN interview with Sugiura, he indicated that the development staff who worked on the title were pursuing a different game, but remarked, "However, it does not mean the world of Baten Kaitos will end. There is [a] possibility that we could start to develop the title if certain circumstances and conditions are met".
Shortly after the North American release of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, Nintendo revealed a list of upcoming Nintendo DS games including one titled Baten Kaitos DS. While speculation suggested that this was a version of Baten Kaitos Origins intended for the DS, the game never materialized, and instead disappeared from Namco's own list of upcoming games in October 2005.
The Baten Kaitos Origins Original Soundtrack is a three CD album containing the music from the game. It was composed and arranged by Motoi Sakuraba, who was in charge of all musical composition in Origins. A total of 61 individual tracks of music are included within the game.
Released towards the end of the GameCube's life cycle, Baten Kaitos Origins had few other major titles to compete with, particularly within the role-playing genre. IGN described it as "one of the last great gems" on the system, naming it the "Game of the Month" for September 2006.
Review scores were generally positive with reviewers enjoying the game overall, despite complaints over specific elements. While the card battles were noted to be a satisfying test of skill, the need to micromanage decks and the difficulty of some boss battles were faulted. Visuals were described as impressive, with pre-rendered artwork serving as the backdrop against which characters move.
Baten Kaitos Origins debuted at number 15 on the weekly games sales charts in Japan, with roughly 14,000 units sold in the first week.
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- (in Japanese) Official website