Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
North American cover art
Publisher(s) Namco, Nintendo Australia Designer(s) Yasuyuki Honne
Writer(s) Masato Kato Composer(s) Motoi Sakuraba Platform(s) GameCube Release date(s) Genre(s) Console role-playing Mode(s) Single-player Rating(s) Media/distribution 2 × GameCube optical disc
Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (バテン・カイトス 終わらない翼と失われた海 Baten Kaitosu: Owaranai Tsubasa to Ushinawareta Umi ) is a 2003 role-playing video game that was developed by tri-Crescendo and Monolith Soft and published by Namco in Japan, North America and Europe and by Nintendo Australia for Australia and New Zealand for the Nintendo GameCube. First released in Japan in 2003, it is the first game in the Baten Kaitos series, and takes place after Baten Kaitos Origins, a prequel released in 2006. It tells the story of a young man named Kalas and his companion Xelha, who live in an aerial island-based kingdom in the clouds. The title, Baten Kaitos, comes from Arabic meaning "belly of the sea monster" and is also the name of the star Zeta Ceti.
Baten Kaitos is a role-playing video game with some puzzle elements. While not actually taking on the role of the protagonist, the player is an active participant as a Guardian Spirit who guides the main character, Kalas, on all of his decisions. Maintaining a positive relationship with Kalas can help the player, particularly during combat, by enabling special "Spirit Attacks". The game mechanics rely heavily on magical cards known as Magnus, which absorb the "Magna essence" of real-world objects for storage and later use.
Saving the game and leveling a character up can be done at specific locations in the game, albeit in a somewhat unconventional manner. Large red and blue flowers are scattered through the game. The player can save by directing the character to stand over a flower (both red and blue), although saving can also be done when navigating the sub-world screen. Leveling up can only be done via a blue flower, which allows the player to warp back to a church. At the church, he/she can pray to the priest in order to level up, as well as to upgrade their class. A level up results in an increase in the character's primary attributes such as HP and attack and defense, while a class up results in an increase in the character's deck capacity. The latter can only be done once a certain item Magnus is obtained (one per character per class).
Money is primarily obtained in an unusual way. One of the Magnus that can be put into a deck is a camera, available in three different levels of quality or effectiveness. When in battle, the character can use the camera to take a picture of an enemy. After the battle, that picture will develop in about ten real time minutes. Once fully developed, a photo's value is primarily determined by the enemy photographed as well as conditions in effect at the time. Photos of rarer enemies (i.e. bosses) are worth more. If the enemy blocks a camera shot, the enemy in the photo will appear somewhat distorted and will be worth less. Using light or dark attacks along with the camera will make the photo lighter or darker, respectively. A photo will sell for less if it is too bright or too dark. Photos of PCs normally have very low sellback value, but there is a small chance of getting "rare shots" that are worth a decent amount.
While other Magnus can also be sold, with the exception of a few specific items, they generally sell for meager amounts of money compared to that obtainable from photographs.
There are four major varieties of Magnus: Quest, Camp, Equipment, and Battle. Quest magnus are items from the overworld stored into various blank cards. They are used to interact with other characters and complete puzzles and sidequests. Camp Magnus are items used outside of battle to heal the party members or grant them status bonuses. Equipment Magnus are made up of each character's unique weapon. They are equipped to the characters to provide increased statistics. Some of the Magnus change over time, gaining a stronger, weaker, or all together different effect. Food items may rot and turn into items which cause poison or wine will turn from a healing item into vinegar, an attack card.
Battle Magnus make up the characters' decks. Outside of battle, the player assembles a deck of Magnus for each party member, from which he or she draws random hands during subsequent combats. Hand size, deck size and maximum combo size increase as the player upgrades the party members' class by finding character-specific Magnus and having them applied at the church. Weapon cards are used to fight with, Armor cards to block with, and Effect cards cause different effects, such as healing. Each Magnus has a Spirit Number in the corner ranging from 1-9. The Spirit Numbers are utilized during battle in order to create straights and same-number groupings (pairs, three-of-a-kinds, etc), resulting in an increased damage effect. On cards with multiple spirit numbers, the player can select which number they want to use by rolling the C-stick.
Finishing moves are a special type of attack Magnus. They have some restrictions on their use: they can only be played after a certain number of Magnus have been played in a combo, and they immediately end a combo even if it has not yet reached maximum size. However, they are very powerful and visually impressive. Finishing moves are character-specific, and each playable character can collect nine of them throughout the game. All bosses and most enemies use finishing moves as well. Magnus can also be combined during battle. When certain Magnus are played, Special combos are formed, thus creating a new Magnus.
The plot in the story revolves around a world made up of a islands floating in the sky. According to the story, an evil god named Malpercio invaded the world and sucked the oceans dry, leaving the islands floating around in the sky. He was defeated by 5 spiritual heroes, who sealed the evil god in the form of 5 "End Magnus."
By the time of the events in the story, everyone living in the sky has grown wings. Enter Kalas, the ill-mannered, selfish one-winged unlikely hero of the story. He awakes in a hospital in a pastoral village on Sadal Suud Frontier. He is quickly joined by Xelha, a good-willed but naive traveler. Together, they inadvertedly release the first of the End Magnus, which is quickly seized by the Empire, a hostile nation on one of the islands.
The two travel to Diadem where they meet Gibari, a fisherman from Nashira, and Lyude, the ambassador to Diadem from the Empire. After lowering the water level of Diadem's Lesser Celestial River, which has recently flooded, they leave with Gibari for the capital where they are welcomed by its King, Ladekahn.
They soon learn that the Empire is after the so-called "End Magnus", Magnus cards that have the power of an evil god named Malpercio. Kalas, Xelha, Gibari, and Lyude find one of the five End Magnus in Diadem, but it is stolen from them. They then travel to Anuenue to find the next End Magnus; while there, they confront the emperor of Alfard, Geldoblame, and meet Savyna, an ex-mercenary for the Empire. The group then travels to Mira, Kalas' home nation, where they meet Mizuti, a strange masked being. They are then arrested for the kidnapping of Lady Melodia and lose their only End Magnus.
Finally, the group of six heads to Alfard, where they intend to stop Geldoblame once and for all. Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Kalas has been working for Melodia all along to try to revive the ancient god Malpercio. Melodia takes control of the Empire from Geldoblame, and his former soldiers drive him into the depths of Alfard's Lava Caves. Kalas absorbs the power of the five End Magnus and falls under Malpercio's control. The other members are captured and imprisoned, but Xelha manages to escape and free the rest of her companions.
Xelha and the rest of the group confront Kalas in order to make him return to his former self, but when they were almost being killed by Malpercio, Kalas himself manages to break free of Melodia's influence and help his companions to escape. Malpercio and Melodia refuge themselves into Cor Hydrae, an ancient fortress sealed in another dimension, and while Kalas and co. have some free time to tie some loose ends into their adventure, the forces of all five nations prepare themselves to launch a simultaneous attack on Cor Hydrae by moving the floating islands. This attack manages to give an opening for Kalas and friends to infiltrate the fortress for their final battle against Malpercio.
The party battles through Cor Hydrae until they reach Malpercio and Melodia in the throne room. After defeating Malpercio, the leaders of all the nations join the party in the throne room. Duke Calbren of Mira begs his granddaughter Melodia to come back from the side of evil, but Melodia spurns him, instead becoming one with the corpse of Malpercio and creating a new, more powerful god. The party pursues Melodia/Malpercio to the top of Cor Hydrae and begin the final climactic battle. Malpercio is defeated, and Kalas "dives into" Malpercio and brings out Melodia. Kalas, Melodia, and the Guardian Spirit use their powers, along with the Sword of the Heavens, the Ocean Mirror, and the Earth Sphere, to release Malpercio's spirit from his body.
The energy needed to break the shield around Cor Hydrae drains the energy that allows the five major islands to float in the sky, and the islands fall toward the toxic Earth below. One thousand years have passed since the Earth was spoiled, however, and the Taintclouds covering the Earth part to reveal a lush, fertile land. The islands' fall is stopped by the spirits of five ancient gods who, while holding up the islands, turn into giant pillars of stone, connecting the islands once again to the Earth.
A great celebratory feast is held on Anuenue, and plans for the future are made. During the party, Xelha and Kalas slip away to the spring in Moonguile Forrest. Xelha reveals that the Ice Queens, of whom she is the last, are responsible for holding the long-lost Ocean, and that Kalas and the Guardian Spirit must release it from within her, now that the Earth has been restored. Kalas refuses at first, seeing that he has fallen in love with Xelha, but eventually agrees to restore humanity. The Ocean is about to be released when Geldoblame's spirit, inhabiting the surrounding Earth, returns, claiming the new world for himself. Kalas and Xelha defeat him, but the battle uses the last of Xelha's strength and she dies in Kalas' arms. Before her body disappears, she says that she just wished that she and Kalas could have been like any other couple.
All over the world, a rain begins to fall. People in the five nations comment on how odd this is, and how salty the rain tastes. The rain accumulates into the long-lost Ocean. At the same time, all the world's Greythornes come together and transform into the mighty Whale, with Xelha's Greythorne Meemei becoming the Whale's brain. For a moment, the people of the world regain their lost wings before they disappear in a shimmer of light.
Kalas, the party, and all other main characters of the game all meet in Mira to send the Guardian Spirit home. During the goodbye, a boy gives Kalas Xelha's pendant, saying that he can hear "Xelha's voice" in it. Kalas puts it up to his ear, and Xelha reappears in a flash of water. The Guardian Spirit then leaves the world of Baten Kaitos to a bright new future.
Kalas, the main character of the game, is a youth who seeks revenge for the death of his grandfather, the talented mechanic Georg, and his little brother, Fee. Kalas is accompanied by a Guardian Spirit, who can be seen as the avatar of the player. The spirit watches over Kalas and his party. Kalas occasionally addresses the spirit by turning toward the screen and asking him/her to make a decision. Xelha is a young girl who carries a mysterious pendant linked to the End Magnus. At a certain point in the game, the Guardian Spirit will accompany Xelha for a time when Kalas is temporarily not a playable character.
There are four other playable characters in the game. Gibari is a laid-back but proud fisherman. He is comfortable disobeying village rules when it suits him, though this is usually done to help others, and prefers living by his own rules. Lyude is an imperial ambassador to Diadem, son of a powerful family in the heart of the Alfard Empire. He bears a dreadful secret related to his transfer to Diadem. Savyna is an ex-mercenary whose past is largely unknown. Mizuti is a masked creature who is shrouded in mystery. Towards the end of the game Mizuti's mask shatters and Mizuti is revealed to be a little girl, who possesses greater power than anyone else in her tribe.
The primary antagonist of the game is the Alfard Empire, led by Emperor Geldoblame. He seeks to revive the Ancient God of Destruction, Malpercio, who was sealed away one thousand years ago by the ancient Children of the Earth. He is unsealed as the Alfard Empire pursues Geldoblame's ambitions, and is not pleased about being sealed away. He is described as experiencing hatred and jealousy for all humanity. Giacomo is a high ranking officer in the Imperial Army of Alfard. He is muscular, powerful, serious, prudent, and forceful. Ayme and Folon are high-ranking officers in Alfard's army, under Giacomo's direct command. Giacomo and Ayme were involved in the murder of Kalas' grandfather Georg and brother Fee.
The music of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean was composed and arranged by Motoi Sakuraba. The Original Soundtrack album was recorded by Warner Music Recording Studio and published by TEAM Entertainment, on December 17, 2003. It contained two CDs, a 10-page booklet featuring character art, a central poster, and comments by the producer, director, composer and arranger.
Toys "R" Us released a bonus CD that came packaged with the game. The CD contains seven songs:
Prior to the release of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, IGN interviewed Namco producer Shinji Noguchi about the game's development. Noguchi shared that, although the game was an entirely new property, its development leveraged Monolith Soft's previous experience developing role-playing games, including series such as Xenosaga. When asked why the game was being developed for the GameCube, Noguchi explained that the goal was to satisfy existing fans of the genre yearning for such games on the system, while at the same time trying to provide an intuitive experience for those new to role-playing titles.
In a later interview, Noguchi indicated that the game concept was first created in 2001, with development beginning 6 months later. Noguchi also provided additional details about Monolith Soft's Tokyo staff, noting that the company consisted of roughly 100 employees (at the time), most of whom were game creators and developers.
Years later, when discussing Eternal Sonata, Hiyora Hatsushiba of tri-Crescendo indicated that the previous work on Baten Kaitos was a "very meaningful and memorable project" for the team. Hatsushiba further expressed his belief that tri-Crescendo was able to create Eternal Sonata precisely because of this earlier experience.
Reception Aggregate scores Aggregator Score GameRankings 81.67% (57 reviews) Metacritic 80 (48 reviews) Review scores Publication Score GameSpot 8.5 out of 10 GameSpy  IGN 8.8 out of 10
IGN gave the title an 8.8, calling it "beautiful and thoroughly engrossing", with impressive graphics and combat. Noting the surprising lack of RPGs on the Gamecube, especially exclusives, "Monolith Software has crafted a beautiful and thoroughly engrossing game filled with great characters, impressive visuals and solid combat."
Critics gave generally positive reviews, however there were mixed reviews due to the controversial battle system and somewhat flat characters. Another common complaint was that the voice acting was considered very poor. However, since the game was not well advertised, it is mostly unknown to the general gaming public. IGN has described the game as having a "cult following" and other sources have called the game a cult classic.
- ^ Namco (2003). Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean - Instruction Booklet. p. 6
- ^ a b c d e Namco (2003). Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean - Instruction Booklet. pp. 14-17
- ^ Namco (2003). Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean - Instruction Booklet. p. 21
- ^ a b Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean In-game tutorial on using the camera.
- ^ a b c d Castro, Juan (November 12, 2004). "Baten Kaitos Review". IGN. http://cube.ign.com/articles/566/566127p1.html. Retrieved February 8, 2008.
- ^ "Baten Kaitos ~Eternal Wings and The Lost Ocean~ OST". RPGFan. December 17, 2003. http://www.rpgfan.com/soundtracks/batenkaitos/index.html. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
- ^ "IGN: Baten Kaitos Interview". IGN. May 3, 2004. http://cube.ign.com/articles/510/510950p1.html. Retrieved July 15, 2010.
- ^ Jonric (October 21, 2004). "RPG Vault: Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean Interview". IGN. http://rpgvault.ign.com/articles/558/558543p1.html. Retrieved July 15, 2010.
- ^ Bowden, Mike. "Eteranl Sonata (aka Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream): Interview". Strategy Informer. http://www.strategyinformer.com/xbox360/eternalsonata/interview.html. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
- ^ "Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean Review for GameCube". Game Rankings. http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/917921.asp. Retrieved July 15, 2010.
- ^ "Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean Review (cube) reviews". Metacritic. 2004. http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/cube/batenkaitos. Retrieved August 25, 2008.
- ^ Massimilla, Bethany (November 18, 2004). "Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean Review for GameCube". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/gamecube/rpg/batenkaitos/review.html. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
- ^ Shatterfield, Shane (November 16, 2004). "Baten Kaitos - Page 1". IGN. http://cube.gamespy.com/gamecube/baten-kaitos/566509p1.html. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
- ^ Bozon, Mark (June 26, 2006). "Top 10: Why We Still Play". IGN. http://wii.ign.com/articles/715/715091p1.html. Retrieved July 4, 2008.
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