Who’s Miguel Yanez? Why do people say he lives in Tree Town? Why is he talking in third person? Well, that’s for him to know, and for you to find out. Thankfully, this blog — which is our new network feature — will lead the way.
I’m Advanced Media Network’s handheld director, meaning that anything related to Nintendo’s handheld systems has to go through me. Hah! Did I sound convincing enough? Ah well. It just seems so easy to the rest of ’em.
I really hope you enjoy the blog as much as I enjoy writing for it.
True Wings of the Heart
I recently started playing Tri-Crescendo and Monolith Softâ€™s latest masterpiece, Baten Kaitos: Origins, and the more I play, the more I really feel bad about how underappreciated this gem of a game is.
Sure, itâ€™s not a well-known franchise. But who cares? I assure you that the game is a genuine labor of love that can easily compete with the â€œbig onesâ€ like the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Tales series. But Iâ€™m not here to compare this game to other big games. Iâ€™m here to talk whatâ€™s so special about it, and why you shouldnâ€™t dismiss it just because it didnâ€™t get enough advertising, or just because Wii is coming, and you need money to increase your library for that particular platform (by the way, I could use the â€œBaten Kaitos Origins can be played on Wii, so it still applies!â€ excuse, but I donâ€™t need to).
As the name suggests, â€œOriginsâ€ takes place 20 years prior to the events of the original Baten Kaitos. It tells the story of Sagi, a â€œspiriterâ€ on his first day as part of the Alfard Empireâ€™s â€œDark Serviceâ€. What I donâ€™t know, is the reason why Sagi â€“ a kindhearted young man â€“ would work for an organization thatâ€™s clearly against his own values. Money? Ambition? Iâ€™ll eventually find the answer, Iâ€™m sure. I am, after all, his guardian spirit â€“ and to some extent responsible of his decisions. He asks for my help, and Iâ€™m glad to help him. We have a connection, and it feels good to be involved directly in the adventure.
A bit later, Sagi is joined by Guillo — a Paramachina (mechanized robots that are constructed exclusively to assist army members) — and thatâ€™s where the story really kicks in. Sagiâ€™s first mission? Why to kill Olgan, the current Emperor of Alfard. Isnâ€™t it a bit too early to assign Sagi â€“ a newcomer â€“ with something as big as an assassination? I think so. Iâ€™m sure Sagi thinks so too. However, when Sagi and Guillo go to the Emperorâ€™s residence to carry out the assignment, they discover that someone already killed the emperor! What? Really? Oh yeah, really. As Sagi (and me, of course) start wondering what happened, and who the real murderer is, they find us — and we are forced to flee! Now, weâ€™re blamed for murder, and we canâ€™t go back. What will we do? How will we clean Sagiâ€™s name? The only way to do it is playing more of the game.
Do you remember some of the complaints about the first game, Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean? They were completely understandable, sure. Lousy voice acting, perhaps? I get it. A somewhat predictable storyline? I canâ€™t help but disagree, but to each their own. However, let me assure you that these â€œproblemsâ€ have been corrected in this prequel. The plot is deliciously told in a fantastic script (the script definitely raises the bar for what RPG writing should be), with voice acting thatâ€™s actually authentic (and blends well with the tone and writing of the game), and a soundtrack thatâ€™s one of the best Iâ€™ve seen recently.
Itâ€™s truly a labor of love.
The battle system has also been changed. â€œImprovedâ€ is a hard word to use, as I could easily argue that there was nothing wrong with the first one, in my opinion. Nonetheless, Originsâ€™s battle system forces you to actually strategize a bit more, which can be a welcome addition depending on your perspective. Still, itâ€™s a dynamic, frantic (Relay combos are that freaking amazing), and most importantly, different battle system, that will sure you keep you attentive every time you play.
Itâ€™s hard not to praise Baten Kaitos: Origins based on what Iâ€™ve played so far. But itâ€™s even harder to know that some people arenâ€™t even giving this game a chance. Donâ€™t ignore this game just because it is not a famous brand, or just because new systems are coming, and they need to have some games — that will undoubtedly not be as good — on it. Baten Kaitos: Origins may not be a true â€œnext-gen gameâ€ or may not have been advertised as much as other games, but it is a true labor of love from its creators, and most certainly GameCubeâ€™s real swan song.
How can you miss out on this wonderful experience, and then sleep at night? I know I couldnâ€™t.