Skip to main content

Bandai Namco's rather glorious-looking Baten Kaitos RPG remasters are now on Steam

One of the Gamecube's best beloveds returns to challenge today's card-battlers

A scene from Baten Kaitos, showing the main characters running around a vibrant village of glowing coral shapes and piles of white and red material
Image credit: Bandai Namco

Edwin backstory fragment #345: the greatest usage to which I have ever put my failing grasp of mathematics is determining how many different RPGs I could buy using the "same" money, by dint of trading them in promptly at Gamestation for carefully calculated diminishing returns. I'd save up to buy one of the premium headliners, attempt to get my money's worth inside a week, then swap it for a respected double-A and perhaps a sub-£8 oddity with the manual missing - nesting one purchase within the other like a series of Matryoshka dolls.

This was my Big Short, my Moneyball. But it had a drawback: often, I was so eager to leapfrog to another game before the trade-in price changed that I skimmed RPGs that are now considered classics. The big one was Suikoden 2, which I spent only an evening with before gambling that I'd eke more FunValue out of a game with a less traditional battle system. I can't remember what I traded that for, which says it all. Another was Baten Kaitos on Gamecube, which - yes, we are finally getting to the point here - has just been rereleased on Steam in the shape of a Baten Kaitos I & II HD Remaster. I can't remember what I traded Baten Kaitos for either, which again, says it all. Please, gentle reader - be better.

Watch on YouTube

Our hard-beset guides writer Jeremy Blum did play Baten Kaitos properly as a youth, but he can't write this post because he's caught in the anaconda coils of Elden Ring tips-writing (I hear there's some kind of expansion out this week?) so you'll have to settle for my sparse memories and what I can glean from the Steam page. Battle-system-wise, Baten Kaitos is notable for smushing together active-timey combat with card-battling - the essence of your items and abilities are stored inside Magnus cards which are played in real time. I think the CG/real-time mash-up was what had me hurrying back to Gamestation originally - it takes a while to bed in. I'm interested to experience/hear about how it measures up in today's world, where role-playing card games are as abundant as dandruff.

The plot, meanwhile, casts you as a guardian spirit shepherding a party of destiny-defiers through a luxuriant, organic landscape not worlds away from Final Fantasy X's Spira or the archipelago of Chrono Cross. As for what the remasters add, here's a bullet point rundown care of our indispensable ally Mr Blockquote. If Mr Blockquote's insights aren't enough for you, the console versions of the remasters from last year were pretty positively reviewed.

The two titles have been fully remastered in HD, including retouched battle backgrounds, character graphics, and UI.

Enjoy Baten Kaitos with even more vibrant visuals.

・ Aspect ratio expanded from 4:3 to 16:9 for play on wider screens!

・ Main character and boss graphics have been completely renewed in vivid detail!

・ All-new menu screens! Enjoy smoother gameplay with refreshed menu layouts, newly added sorting features, and more.

Pre-existing graphics have been used for in-game maps as well as some screens and character models.

• New Features for Better Gameplay

Along with improved graphics, the features below have been added to make game progression much smoother!

・ Auto-save feature

・ Help menu containing terminology and hints for progressing through the game

・ New Game+ mode, unlocked after clearing the game once, which starts a new game while retaining all magnus, levels, and ranks

・ New Game- mode, a mode with level restrictions for an extra thrilling challenge

Six new game system options have now been added, including adjustable game speeds and no-encounter mode.

Save your settings as a Custom Set and turn them on or off at any time.

It's currently selling for £40.49, $44.99 or 44,99€ with a 10% launch discount. Back in the early noughties I'd have gotten at least four game purchases out of that money, but alas, Gamestation is dust, though I guess there's still the terrible temptation of exploiting that two-hour refund window on Steam. Get ye behind me, Satan!

Read this next