Tales of Symphonia isn't the only RPG Namco is bringing to the GameCube...
Known as "that other RPG Namco is releasing", this two disc behemoth is being developed by Monolithsoft, infamous creators of Xenosaga, bringing together some of the greatest talent since the unison of the Chrono Trigger team:
Baten Kaitos takes place in a fantasy world full of floating continents and winged humans. The player assumes the role of Kalas, who possess only one wing. Evidently Kalas is seeking revenge upon enemies of his family. Joining him on his quest is Xelha, a kind-hearted young woman with wings of her own, who hopes to stop an evil plan that would change the world. Her pet, Meemai, is a strange animal that is able to take the shapes of much larger creatures and mimic their abilities. Other known characters so far are Gibari, a fisherman, Ladekahn, the king of Diadem (one of the floating countries), and Rodolfo, the feudal lord of Sadal Suud (another country).
Kalas and Xelha's (and presumably other playable characters,) curious appendages, called 'Wings of Heart', are not seen in regular conditions, but rather appear when their bearers get tense and concentrate -- which is whenever they enter battle. In addition Kalas appears to have the ability to communicate with the spirits of the dead. These spirits guide him and lend him their strength throughout his journey. Curiously enough, one of the so-called spirits is the player, and Kalas will be asking for your wisdom in various situations.
From the gameplay movies shown, the battle system uses cards known as "Magnus" and appears to combine elements of traditional Card RPGs and MegaMan Battle Network. When in battle, the deck shuffles itself and deals out eight random cards. The player can then select the order in which to move, much like using Battle Chips with the Blue Bomber. Certain actions can create special attacks and devastatingly high damage combos. Characters can only use a certain amount of cards per turn, but interesting to note is that players can select new cards even before the current animation is over.
With detailed polygonal characters traversing over highly animated 2D backgrounds akin to the Resident Evil games, Namco hopes to sell over 500,000 copies of Baten Kaitos worldwide, earning it a place among its other high-quality franchises.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, "Baten Kaitos" is Arabic for "belly of a whale", evidently named after one of the stars that make up the constellation of Cetus, the Great Whale.
Baten Kaitos is currently slated for a holiday release in Japan. Details on the US release are scarce, but since the speech during cinemas is in English, we’ll likely see it sometime in early to mid 2004.