True Wings of the Heart

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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 Soft’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, it’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 “big ones” like the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Tales series. But I’m not here to compare this game to other big games. I’m here to talk what’s so special about it, and why you shouldn’t dismiss it just because it didn’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 “Baten Kaitos Origins can be played on Wii, so it still applies!” excuse, but I don’t need to).

As the name suggests, “Origins” takes place 20 years prior to the events of the original Baten Kaitos. It tells the story of Sagi, a “spiriter” on his first day as part of the Alfard Empire’s “Dark Service”. What I don’t know, is the reason why Sagi – a kindhearted young man – would work for an organization that’s clearly against his own values. Money? Ambition? I’ll eventually find the answer, I’m sure. I am, after all, his guardian spirit – and to some extent responsible of his decisions. He asks for my help, and I’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 that’s where the story really kicks in. Sagi’s first mission? Why to kill Olgan, the current Emperor of Alfard. Isn’t it a bit too early to assign Sagi – a newcomer – with something as big as an assassination? I think so. I’m sure Sagi thinks so too. However, when Sagi and Guillo go to the Emperor’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, we’re blamed for murder, and we can’t go back. What will we do? How will we clean Sagi’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 can’t help but disagree, but to each their own. However, let me assure you that these “problems” 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 that’s actually authentic (and blends well with the tone and writing of the game), and a soundtrack that’s one of the best I’ve seen recently.


It’s truly a labor of love.

The battle system has also been changed. “Improved” is a hard word to use, as I could easily argue that there was nothing wrong with the first one, in my opinion. Nonetheless, Origins’s battle system forces you to actually strategize a bit more, which can be a welcome addition depending on your perspective. Still, it’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.

It’s hard not to praise Baten Kaitos: Origins based on what I’ve played so far. But it’s even harder to know that some people aren’t even giving this game a chance. Don’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 “next-gen game” 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 GameCube’s real swan song.

How can you miss out on this wonderful experience, and then sleep at night? I know I couldn’t.


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