That's just the beginning for the twists you'll find in Baten Kaitos. The game akes heavy use of cards for everything from fighting battles to purchasing items. Cards are actually a central part of the story. The cards are holders for "Magnus" which is short for "Magna Essence." Magnus is the true nature of all things throughout the world, including swords, magic spells and even apples that are gathered in the town in which your adventures start out. A real item can be turned into Magnus form and stored in a blank card. It can then be taken out from the card and will turn back into real form.
This idea seems to be put to use in all facets of the game. If someone in town asks you to get an item for them, you search for the item, store it in one of your blank Magnus cards, and take it to them in that form. You don't buy actual items and equipment at a shop -- you buy Magnus cards containing the items. Gold and experience are also handled via Magnus-based transactions. Finally, a game that doesn't have us wondering why enemies always seem to have gold in their possession.
There are different kinds of Magnus used in the game. Camp Magnus are used for healing your characters and upgrading parameters. Use a Camp Magnus once and it disappears for good. Equipment Magnus, as the name may suggest, takes the place of equipment items found in other RPGs. The various forms of equipment Magnus have different effects on their possessors and are exclusive to some characters. Quest Magnus is the name given to Magnus you've trapped in a blank card as detailed above. Townfolk will often ask you to get items for them, meaning these Quest Magnus items take the place of standard mini-quests.
The final form of Magnus is called Battle Magnus and is used, as the name may suggest, in battle. Battle Magnus includes all the standard RPG commands like attacks, spells, defense and recovery in card form. There's no menu selection in Baten Kaitos -- just lots and lots of card selection.
Prior to going to battle, you assign Battle Magnus to slots in a deck for each character in your party. The deck starts off with 20 slots, growing as your character grows and gains experience. Prior to battle, the deck is shuffled and the cards are spooled out from there, initially four per turn. Reach the end of the deck and the cards are shuffled (taking up one of your turns) and the process repeats.
A typical turn in battle goes as follows. When on offense, you select a target enemy and then choose a series of cards with which to attack that enemy. Meanwhile, the enemy counters each of your moves with cards of his own. When you're on defense, the roles are reversed, with your selecting cards in anticipation of what kind of offensive move the enemy may unleash. The defensive player can select as many cards as the offensive player. The offensive player is limited in the number of cards he can select by his current level. Initially, the game starts you off with the ability to select two cards at a time.
At the end of a turn, the game totals up how much damage you incur or give. The end result of each turn is just this -- a simple number reflecting how much HP you've gained or lost. The game computes the number based on the cards you selected, the cards your enemy selected, and a few other parameters.
Card selection during battle is where most of the strategy lies (although creating a good deck from your stock of cards is also important). The game places no limitation on you regarding which cards you can select. You're perfectly free to select a bunch of offensive cards while you're on defense, although usually this will have no effect. Each card is listed with offensive and defensive ability so you can see in advance what effect the card will have. Normally, you'll want to select cards that have images of shields and armor while on defense and cards that have magic spells and weapons while on offense.
Your best strategy is to pair cards together in logical combinations. For instance, don't follow a fire attack with a water attack in the same turn, as the two attacks will cancel one another. You have to also pay attention to what kind of enemy you're facing -- using a water spell against an water enemy won't be too effective.
Just like real playing cards, the cards in Baten Kaitos have numbers. It's more effective to pair up numbers in poker-style combinations. For instance, using two attack cards that have the number 2 written on them will result in 5% added damage. Later in the game, you'll get cards that have multiple numbers that can be selected during battle to best suit your needs.
It's also possible to combine cards based purely on the images on their faces. Combining a card with a fish on its face with a fire spell will result in a fried fish Magnus. Why would you want a fried fish Magnus? We've no idea. Combinations that have resulted in anything worthwhile are archived for future reference.
Ah, il commento finale fa ben sperare:
Above all else, the game is stunning to look at. Monolith went with pre-rendered backdrops with Baten Kaitos, and we applaud the decision. The backgrounds are full of tiny details that would've probably been done away with fully realtime backdrops. They're also full of movement, more than any other game of this form before. Water flows, giant collections of trees sway, and the most inspiring set of clouds ever shown on the gaming screen floats through the sky. It can be a bit hard to see where you can and cannot go at times, but this is only a problem when the action is viewed from afar.
Characters and battles are all done in full 3D, and with good results. Characters are smoothly modeled and animated. Battles feature lighting and particle effects and massive enemies even when you're just starting off the game. We can't wait to see what's in store down the road.
Music and sound are also worth mentioning. Motoi Sakuraba (Star Ocean 3) took an interesting approach to the dungeon music -- we can't recall having ever heard violin music while trekking through a dungeon, but it ends up working well, with excellent composition. The trademark Sakuraba electric guitar is in this game as well during boss battles. On top of the music, the game is loaded with voice -- so much so that, we have a feeling that much of the two disks is purely voice related. Unfortunately, the voice quality is very muffled, as if the sampling rate is low.
[quest'ultima ve la confermo io, ho un paio di MP3 ]