The Baten Kaitos 1 and 2 HD Remaster revitalizes the old games to bring them to a new modern audience. The original titles launched way back in 2003 and 2006 respectively, with the second game actually serving as a prequel to the first game. Prior to this release, they were only playable on the Nintendo Gamecube (well, and emulators) so it’s great to see them both available in one package on the Nintendo Switch published by Bandai Namco.
A quick overview of Baten Kaitos 1 and 2
In Baten Kaitos 1, players take on the role of a guardian spirit that converses and guides the protagonist Kalas and his party. The game kicks off at a glacial pace, but you do get to battle monsters quite early on which helps bring you up to speed with the combat mechanics.
The storyline involves Kalas adventuring out to put a stop to the “End Magnus” falling into the wrong hands. These are powerful Magnus – magical cards to interact with the environment, other characters, and battle with – that will bring about the destruction of the world by unleashing an evil force that’s been sealed away thanks to their power.
Set prior to the events of the first game, Baten Kaitos 2 follows the story of Sagi and his involvement in a conflict between political forces, with plenty of subterfuge all in the name of power and control. It gets quite complicated and convoluted, so you’ll need to play the game to figure out what’s going on. As in the original, you advise the protagonists as a “Guardian Spirit” with some fourth wall moments.
Both Baten Kaitos 1 and 2 feature a complex system based around using “Magnus” or cards, to interact with the environment, influence other other characters, and issue battle commands. Magnus represent cards that capture the essence of something, which can be used later by the playable characters. As an example, you can have a Magnus card of a restorative healing plant, which can then be used in battle to heal your characters.
Combat involves building a deck of Magnus cards and then using them appropriately in turn-based battles. This can get rather complex since you’ll have to strategize in advance and make sure that you have enough offensive and defensive Magnus in your deck to keep you alive during longer battles. Players will have to constantly adjust their decks and set them up for the right task at hand.
Baten Kaitos 2 arguably has the better battle system, since instead of having one deck for each character, you have one deck that applies to everyone in the party and this simplifies things immensely.
The quality of life changes
The remaster doesn’t alter the core gameplay so instead makes things a lot more user-friendly. Players will now be able to play the game at an accelerated speed (up to 300% faster than normal); be able to “One hit” kill enemies, increase the speed of battles; simplify the battle results screen that displays during the end of turns in battles; disable enemy encounters; and even enable an “Auto-Battle” option.
These quality-of-life changes really make a world of a difference, as in 2023 since gamers tend to be used to games that are a lot faster-paced. Speaking of which, both games feature a lot of reading and text and, if you aren’t a fan of games that are very heavily into world-building and character development via conversations, this might not be a title for you. There’s a lot of story to get into in Baten Kaitos’ world and you’ll have to interact with objects and NPCs a lot to get to the full nitty-gritty.
Baten Kaitos 1 feels a bit dated to play and the game’s age shows through, despite the remastered visuals. This is primarily due to the battle system and how tedious it feels in action. Having to sit through long animations and results screens without the use of the increased speed option would have been infuriating. Bumping up the speed makes a world of a difference and you’ll want to adjust this immediately.
Exploring and moving around the world in Baten Kaitos 1 is fairly straightforward and players will have to scout out the environments to interact with objects. Some objects can be a bit obscure and it’s not always clear if you can interact with something. Baten Kaitos 2 handles this in a far better way than its predecessor and, honestly, the entire game is just miles ahead of the first one in most elements. If you play this series the “chronologically correct” way with Baten Kaitos 2, it’ll feel like a massive downgrade in quality when you move onto the first game. The original is fine enough, but it doesn’t hold up as well by modern gaming standards.
When it comes the the remastered visuals, Baten Kaitos 1 looks very artistic with backgrounds and environments that look great even now thanks to the anime and almost painting-like art style that’s been employed. The second game features a bigger jump in visual fidelity and, as with the gameplay, is just so much better overall. The user interface and menu experience are smoother, and the look of the characters, environments, and animations improved.
The soundtrack is good in both games, but the English voice acting has been removed from both titles in the remaster. Only the Japanese language voice acting remains though – so long as you’re comfortable with subtitles – it’s not a bad choice given how much better it sounds.
Overall, the Baten Kaitos 1 and 2 HD Remaster offers a glimpse into Monolith Soft’s past. Despite their faults and dated elements, Monolith Soft’s roots in the Baten Kaitos franchise set the ball in motion for them to eventually work on some exceptionally great titles in the years that followed. These are the two games that put them on the radar and it’s great to see that their knack for compelling storytelling was present way back at the start. The Xenoblade Chronicles franchise has a lot to be thankful for from Baten Kaitos.
They’re a little bit dated, especially Baten Kaitos 1, but they’re still great JRPGs in their own right with a risky card-orientated battle system that works a lot better now with the added quality-of-life improvements (use the fast-forward options!). If you’re a fan of classic Gamecube titles, this remaster will definitely appeal to you.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Baten Kaitos 1 & 2 HD Remaster was provided to gameblur by the publisher
Baten Kaitos 1 & 2 HD Remaster (Nintendo Switch) ReviewBaten Kaitos 1 & 2 HD Remaster (Nintendo Switch) Review
Graphics8/10 Very Good
- Classic Gamecube titles remastered
- Classic JRPG fans will enjoy these games
- Several quality of life improvements
- Tedious combat system
- Dated videogame design elements
- English voice acting was removed from the remasters